Black at Bryn Mawr: a Timeline

The work of many students, faculty and staff made it possible to construct this timeline, which is based on information currently available.

1900 | 1901 | 1927 | 1931 | 1934 | 1940 | 1942 | 1950 | 1962 | 1966 | 1969 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1985 | 2008 | 2012 | 2015 | 2017 | 2018 | 2020

1900: Sally Brown, a maid on Merion Hall, is one of 68 Black workers on campus. Click here to read more about Sally Brown.



1901: Jessie Redmon Fauset is the first Black person to enroll but is sent to Cornell after Bryn Mawr becomes aware that she is Black.



1927: Board of Directors vote to admit POCs only on a non-residential basis.

1931: Enid Cook ’31 is the first Black persons to graduate. W.E.B. Du Bois speaks at a student-organized conference on Black Americans and the economy.



1934: Lillian Alfrebelle Russell '34 is the second Black graduate. Both she and Cook live with local Black families during their four years at the College.



1940: The first Black doctoral student, Madeleine Sylvain-Bouchereau, arrives on campus.



1942: Residential restrictions for Black students are removed.

1950: There are only four Black undergraduate students on campus.

1962: There are only 14 Black undergraduate students on campus.

1966: Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers the baccalaureate address to the graduating class.



1969: Dolores (Dodie) Norton, M.S.S. ’60, Ph.D. ’69, is appointed an assistant professor in the GSSWSR.

1970: Black students present a list of 10 demands to the College administration. Sisterhood* is founded. (The asterisk denotes that Sisterhood* is open to all genders and gender expressions.)

1971: Bob Washington, the first Black professor, is appointed to the sociology department at the undergraduate college.



1972: Perry House opens in response to demands from Black students.




1985: Mary Osirim is a  lecturer in sociology. She joins the professoriate in 1991 and becomes Bryn Mawr College's first Black provost in 2013.



2008: The Black Alumnae/i Fund is established, and is revitalized in 2020.

2012: Perry House is closed after the building is condemned.

2015: The Enid Cook ’31 Center is founded. Students protest racist symbols on campus, including the naming of Thomas Hall.



2017: The Tapestry Alumnae/i Affinity Group is established.

2018: Students protest the continued inscription of M. Carey Thomas’s name on Old Library. Angela Davis is the 2018 commencement speaker.

2020: Bi-Co students strike after the murder of Walter Wallace Jr. in Philadelphia.

This issue of the Alumnae Bulletin presents reflections from Black alumnae/i and students spanning 65 years in the life of the College.