Link to Reflections of the Women of Fredonia home page


Fredonia Academy
Fredonia Normal School
Teachers College
Faculty Dames
The Post-War Years
Fredonia 1961-Present
Student Reaction
Thanks To

JoAnn Kaufman, Classes of 1969, '77

Who knows what might have happened if Jan McVicker hadn't been sitting on the cement wall outside the Williams Center, enjoying the April sun while correcting papers after an American Association of University Women (AAUW) meeting back in 1998? We began chatting about Women's Studies, and I expressed a perceived need to capture the memories of our own Fredonia Dames while we still could, and the rest is...well, yes, history.

The initial idea was to "somehow" record the experiences of Fredonia women, and the first project description read: "Involve current Women Studies students in capturing the history of women at Fredonia, beginning with Faculty Dames and early women faculty, but continuing to the present, involving professional staff, support staff and women students through the years." Ask any one of us who is primarily responsible for the document you're about to read and we'd all name someone else. Like most women's projects, this is a collaborative effort and we worked from our strengths: Jan McVicker was then coordinating the Women's Studies minor and teaching the Introduction to Women's Studies class; when Sue Jemison found the infamous Secretary's Handbook (that alone is worth a visit to the College Archives) in an old file cabinet, she volunteered to be our classified staff liaison while keeping us organized from start to finish; alumna Judy Clark, long-time Dames historian, was motivated to organize those records and get them into the archives; and I'd been a Fredonia librarian and member of the Fredonia Alumni Association Board of Directors for enough years to know many women - and that Fredonia's 175th Anniversary was fast approaching. Later, Karen West helped us find grant money to get started (thank you, Carnahan-Jackson Humanities Fund) and kept us on track and motivated, while alumna Lisa Eikenburg and Kathy Kolo used their editing skills and alumni experience to polish this document. Carole Somerfeldt valiantly assisted all of us as we negotiated the college history collection, and Jen Champ stepped forward when we needed her help to keep this publication student-centered. SUNY Fredonia graphic design intern Mary Chesebro added her talents in designing the Traditions and Transitions:  Reflection of the Women of Fredonia book.

Please keep in mind our decision to keep this publication student-centered. This is no more an authoritative history of Fredonia than the previous physical plant-centered versions, but any discrepancies are errors of enthusiasm as the project evolved with a life of its own.

The students were given a condensed overview of Fredonia history and the results of a brief, initial survey sent to select women we thought might be interested in helping. By letter, e-mail, telephone and personal interview, our students contacted almost all of the women who returned surveys, and a few additional women of their own choosing. Their assigned women represented a specific time period and all segments of our population. Regrettably, some of the women were never interviewed despite our best efforts, and we know there are many more important stories out there.

This document is an illustrated celebration of Fredonia women, published for the college's 175th Anniversary. It is a very condensed version of all the student papers and there is much more material which could be developed as a scholarly publication, but this isn't it. The complete record - surveys, original student papers, bibliographies, photographs, letters, etc. - has been deposited in the College Archives at Reed Library, where it will remain available to those interested in more detail.

Virtually all of the participating students expressed the hope that someone will repeat this project 25 years from now and enable them to be interviewed. To those women who wish to contribute memories, comments, photographs, scrapbooks, etc., for use in any future projects, we encourage you to send them now (c/o Susan Jemison, Reed Library, SUNY Fredonia, Fredonia, NY 14063). E-mail comments can be addressed to or We'll make sure that everything is added to the College Archives for posterity.

Thank you again to all those who helped make this happen, and now it's the students' turn...

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Women's History Project, 1999-2001.  © March 2002 by the State University of New York at Fredonia.  All rights reserved.

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