Since its earliest days, women at Utah State University have had a huge impact on the cultural, scientific, economic, and social fabric of the institution. The Year of the Woman shares these critical voices simply because their stories matter.
“I rejoice to say that here no hairbreadth distinction will be made between the sexes. Here the young lady may enter side-by-side with her brother, and if sufficient mental power be hers, she may keep by his side, or go ahead, if she can.”
-Sarah Walker Eddy (1890)
Then: Sarah Walker Eddy
On September 4, 1890, Utah State officials and Cache Valley locals gathered for the Utah Agricultural College (UAC) dedication services. In attendance was newly appointed Utah Territorial governor, Arthur L. Thomas, who had invited fiery Methodist Sunday School teacher Sarah Walker Eddy to participate in the ceremony.
Born in Ohio in 1860, Sarah Walker Eddy was a world traveler. Following her marriage to Barton Thomas Eddy in 1883, they set sail for India as Methodist missionaries. In 1885, while still residing in India, Mrs. Eddy suddenly found herself a widow with a one-year-old baby and another child on the way. Within the year, they travelled back to America where Mrs. Eddy earned an income as a missionary. Several years later, Mrs. Eddy was offered a teaching position at a Methodist school in Salt Lake City. While serving in this position, she became known for her ability to “give a good speech,” which led to her invitation to speak at the UAC ceremony.
The governor asked Mrs. Eddy to address the topic of “The Higher Education of Women” and she gave an excellent speech, which foreshadowed the lasting USU tradition of female education and accomplishment. She said that:
The all-absorbing ambition of the enlightened mother now is to have her daughter well-educated, able to converse learnedly and fluently on any subject, and, perchance, able to advocate the various reforms of the day… I rejoice to say that here no hair-breadth distinctions will be made between the sexes. Here the young lady may enter side-by-side with her brother, and if sufficient mental power be hers, she may keep by his side, or go ahead if she can.
The Governor was so impressed by her remarks that she was offered a position at the Utah Agricultural College and taught there from 1891-1896, making her the first member of the history faculty at UAC. During her time in Logan, Utah, Mrs. Eddy served as an advisor to the Philadelphia House, a boarding establishment for young women, as well as a representative of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, as they attempted to eradicate the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
After four years at UAC, Mrs. Eddy went on to teach history in Berea, Ohio at the college from which she had graduated. She taught there for seven years before returning to evangelistic work. In a diary printed by her daughter, Harriet Barton Eddy (Binkley), it is reported that Mrs. Eddy journeyed again to India for a period of five years for the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Church to be principal of a local school. Upon her return to the U.S. in 1908, she continued in evangelical service until she died on March 18, 1943 at the age of 83.
Now: Tammy M. Proctor
When the centenary of World War I was commemorated in 2014-2018, Dr. Tammy M. Proctor’s scholarly work was impressively relevant. Several of her books, Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War (2003); Civilians in a World at War, 1914-1918 (2010); An English Governess in the Great War: The Secret Brussels Diary of Mary Thorp, co-edited with Sophie de Schaepdrijver (2017); Gender and the Great War, co-edited with Susan R. Grayzel (2017); and World War I: A Short History (2017), explore the “war to end all wars” in diverse ways. Readers of Proctor’s work are impressed with her focus on typically silenced or invisible populations during the time of war, with her research making gender history visible, and her focus on ordinary people in a changing world. As a result of her expertise in World War I and unique perspectives on certain wartime populations, Professor Proctor is a highly sought after speaker in the United States and in Europe.
Proctor joined the Utah State University faculty in 2013 as the first female department head in History. While at USU, she has been named a distinguished professor and awarded Researcher of the Year for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. She also chairs the steering group for the Voting Rights 1870, 1920, 1965, 2020 Symposium, an event that has been postponed from March to September 2020.
Proctor graduated in 1990 from the University of Missouri with degrees in history and journalism. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in modern European and women’s history from Rutgers University in 1995. Over the years, Proctor has taught in universities across the nation, spending time at Princeton University as a preceptor, Lakeland College, Sheboygan as an assistant professor, and several years at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Proctor joined the Wittenberg faculty in 1998 as an assistant professor of history and also directed the Women’s Studies Program and the Honors Program, and chaired the History Department there. In 2010, Proctor became the H. O. Hirt Endowed Professor of History, a position she held until she joined the USU faculty.
In addition to the books she’s written and edited on World War I, Proctor has published on the history of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts/Guides in Britain and internationally: On My Honour: Guides and Scouts in Interwar Britain (2002), Scouting for Girls: A Century of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (2009), and Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century (2009), co-edited with Nelson R. Block. Proctor’s current book project, Saving Europe: Food, War, and American Intervention, examines wartime relief programs in Europe from 1914-1924, with an emphasis on food aid, cultural rebuilding programs, and the shaping of American attitudes toward Europeans.