Russian Department Created in 1918

As part of Dartmouth's 250th celebration all over campus are signs of our history. In 1918 Elizabeth Reynold Hapgood becomes Dartmouth's first female professor. She also created the College's Russian Program.

Dartmouth's first female professor was an accomplished linguist and Russian language expert. Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood had lived in Russia for several years, published articles and established a program in Russian language and culture at Columbia University. In 1918, Dartmouth President Ernest Martin Hopkins '01 recruited her to initiate a Russian program at the College. She expected a dozen students at most. Whether lured by her subject or the novelty of having a female professor, 28 students showed up the first day. An influx of students bound for the army in the last days of World War I swelled the numbers to 89 for the course they nicknamed "Bolzhevik One."

"As the first woman teacher in a man's college I felt I must be sure to assert my authority, and perhaps I was a bit severe. At least I set a high standard!" Hapgood wrote in her journal. She found that not all students had a gift for the language. "There was one of them who used to go down on his knees to me at the end of the class and beg to be 'let out of here.' "

Celebrate our 250th