Woman of the Century/Alice R. Jordan Blake
BLAKE, Mrs. Alice R. Jordan, lawyer, born in Norwalk, Ohio, 10th October, 1864. She bears the distinction of being the first and so far the only woman to be graduated with a degree from Yale College. She received her high-school education in Coldwater, Mich., where from childhood she was considered a prodigy in learning. After graduating from the high school, the youngest of her class, she entered the University of Michigan at the age of sixteen years, being at that time the youngest pupil who had ever entered the course. After graduating from the literary department at the end of four years, Miss Jordan decided to study law, and she entered the law department of the University, then under Judge Thomas M. Cooley. So diligently did she prosecute her studies that, at the end of the first year, before she had even entered the senior class, she passed a most rigid examination in open court and was admitted to practice in all the courts of Michigan. Being ambitious that the foundation of her future work should be thoroughly assured. Miss Jordan wished to continue her studies, and with that view she applied for admission to the Law Department of Columbia College, but admission was refused because she was a woman. Not daunted by refusal, she applied to Harvard, but with like result. The authorities there were, if anything, more hostile even than those of Columbia had been. Then she opened correspondence with the authorities of Yale, but with the same discouraging reply that the constitution forbade the granting of a degree to a woman. So it did, but by perseverance against every obstacle, the door was finally opened to her, and she entered the senior class. So strange was it to see a young lady passing to and fro in those halls, dedicated only to young men, and to be reciting in the classes, that a few of the more conservative professors anticipated dire results, but in less than a fortnight ALICE R. JORDAN BLAKE. the refining influence was felt in hall and class-room, much to the satisfaction of the faculty. At first a few of the young men felt that their prerogatives had been invaded and their standard lowered by admitting a young woman to equal standing with themselves, but it was not for long. That feeling soon changed to one of respect and admiration, and cordial relations existed with every member of the class. As the college year drew to a close and Miss Jordan had with great credit passed the final examination, came the question whether the corporation could exceed the powers granted by the constitution and confer the degree of LL.B. They offered a compromise sort of certificate, but it was declined. The exitement was intense. How hard it had been to overcome the prejudice and drive the entering wedge for woman's admission may best be comprehended in the remark of its retiring president, Noah Porter: "Would that I had never lived to be called upon to sign a Yale College degree granted to a woman." A special session of the corporation was called and. notwithstanding the opposition of the president, it was voted to grant the degree with full honors. The result of this decision was almost electrifying. A banquet followed, and it was thought at that time that the battle for women to enjoy equal advantages in the college had been fought and won, and that one more progressive step had been taken in the history of the age. After leaving college, Miss Jordan continued her studies in California for two years, when she was married to George D. Blake, an attorney and former class-mate, and since her marriage she has resided in Seattle, Wash.