Women's Rights Activism and Deans of Women at the University of Kansas

Admitted to the University of Kansas from its beginning, women have always been welcome on the hill. However, welcome would not be enough when the women’s rights movement swept the campus in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Before then, for KU women and those across the country, a women’s virtue was upheld through restricting rules and regulations.

Student personnel administrators like the Dean of Women fulfilled the university's responsibility for in loco parentis. As such, they provided discipline in place of the student’s parents on behalf of the university. KU women were accustomed to this type of control through the 1950s. 

Concerns over these restrictions and other women's issues started to grow in the 1960s, reaching its peak in February 1972. A group of women calling themselves the February Sisters occupied the East Asian Studies building overnight and presented a list of demands. They hoped to gain equal opportunity for women and certain services like a day care center on campus. Supported by then Dean of Women Emily Taylor, the group succeeded in getting most of their demands realized.

In this exhibit can be found original documents, photographs, and memorabilia that tell the story of the women’s right movement at the University. 

This is an online exhibit from Fall 2015. The exhibit was created by Letha Johnson, Associate Archivist, University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.


Advisory Board for the Emily Taylor Women's Resource Center

Taylor (seated center) joins members of the newly formed board for the ETWRC.



Emily Taylor

New dean of women, Taylor, in her office.



February Sister, Christine Leonard

Leonard speaks at a press conference about the proposed child care center and the possible places in which to house the center.