20 Facts About Ada Comstock


Ada Louise Comstock was an American women's education pioneer.


Ada Comstock served as the first dean of women at the University of Minnesota and later as the first full-time president of Radcliffe College.


Ada Louise Comstock was born on December 11,1876, in Moorhead, Minnesota, to Solomon Gilman Comstock, an attorney, and Sarah Ball Comstock.


Ada Comstock's father recognized her capabilities and potential and set about to cultivate them by encouraging an early and sound education for his daughter.


The oldest of three children, Comstock graduated from Moorhead High School at age 15.


Ada Comstock began her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota in 1892, where she was a member of Delta Gamma woman's fraternity.


Ada Comstock returned to Minnesota to complete a graduate course in teaching at Moorhead Normal School, then went to Columbia University for graduate work in English, History, and Education, where she earned a master's degree in 1899.


Ada Comstock was promoted to the position of instructor in 1900 and assistant professor in 1904.


Ada Comstock was appointed the school's first dean of women in 1907 and a full professor in 1909.


In 1912, Ada Comstock came to Smith as the first ever Dean of the College and to teach English.


Ada Comstock believed very strongly throughout her entire life that a college education should inspire women to take a part in the shaping of the world.


In 1917, when the Presidency of Smith College became vacant, Ada Comstock was given the responsibility of its operation for approximately 6 months, but was neither given the title of acting President nor was she considered for the position.


Ada Comstock was a founding member and one of the five American voting delegates to the first conference of the International Federation of University Women in London in 1920 and at the second in Paris in 1922.


Ada Comstock was active in other areas in public life as well.


Ada Comstock was a president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vice Chairman of the American Council of Institute of Pacific Relations and served on the National Committee for Planned Parenthood.


On October 20,1923, Ada Comstock was inaugurated as president of Radcliffe College.


Ada Comstock spent 20 years leading the school, strengthening its academic programs and, in 1943, persuaded Harvard to accept classroom coeducation.


Also under President Ada Comstock, Radcliffe was able to launch a nationwide admission program, improve student housing, construct new classroom buildings and expand the graduate program.


When Radcliffe celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1954, Ada Comstock was called "the chief architect of the greatness of this college".


Ada Comstock Notestein died of congestive heart failure at her home in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 12,1973.