Graduation Year

2020

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

History

Major

History

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Anya Jabour

Faculty Mentor Department

History

Keywords

Coeds, women students, University of Montana, Social expectations

Subject Categories

Social History | Women's History

Abstract

Physical Education student Lillian Christensen embodied the reality female students faced while pursuing higher education at the University of Montana in the 1920s. Known as “co-eds,” women were expected to be more than just successful in academics. Coeds were expected to pursue women-acceptable majors, attend clubs, organize events, and participate in the campus traditions that all reinforced gender standards. Essentially, the ideal coed was expected to succeed at everything while their academic achievements were seen only as a path to their ultimate role of wife and mother. Even while women were achieving significant victories for women's rights in the 1920s, coed students were engaged in balancing ingrained social expectations with social progress. In many ways, Lillian Christensen demonstrated a forward progression of women's rights; she was an independent adventurer, a five sport athlete, and a campus leader. She was able to push those limits because she also modeled acceptable social behavior. She participated in clubs, attended formal dances, and led campus traditions. Lillian Christensen's life at UM reflects the experience of other ordinary women students who spent their life balancing their obligations to both social progress and patriarchal traditions.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

GLI Capstone Project

no

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© Copyright 2020 Natalie D. Mongeau