Women’s History Month: UMN Faculty

Learn about some pioneering University of Minnesota faculty members in honor of Women’s History Month!


Katherine Densford (1890-1978) was Director of the College of Nursing for almost 30 years, retiring in 1959. Dr. Densford is credited with early growth in the University of Minnesota’s College of Nursing. Under her Leadership, the University of Minnesota was the first to offer a degree program for nurses. She was the first woman at the University of Minnesota chosen to deliver the Cap & Gown Day (Honors Convocation) Address.

unnamed-2Dr. Josephine E. Tilden (1869-1957), Professor of Botany. Dr. Tilden was the first woman scientist hired at the University of Minnesota in 1895. She was an authority on pacific algae and led an exhibition to British Columbia. After this exhibition, she used her own money to establish a biological research station there (the Minnesota Seaside Station).

unnamed-4Anna Norris (1874-1958) was Director of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Physical Education for 30 years and a pioneer in the field of education for women. Dr. Norris wanted to be a physician but women were not allowed into medical school at Harvard or Tufts so she went to Northwestern University and graduated with her medical degree in 1900. She came to the U in 1912 and in a short time secured funding and completion of a gymnasium for expansion of programming for women and physical education. The former Norris Hall was name in her honor.

unnamed-5Ruth E. Boynton (1896-1977) became Director of the Student Health Service in 1936. She was the only woman in the U.S. to service in this position when she began. She served as Director from 1936 – 1961. In 1975, the Health Service was named in her honor. When she retired she left behind the most comprehensive university health service anywhere in the world.

unnamed-6Dr. Geneva Southall (1925 – 2004), Chair of Afro-American Studies and Professor of black music culture courses, was a musicologist and former concert pianist. In 1960, she became the first woman and African American to receive a doctor of philosophy degree in music literature and piano performance from the University of Iowa. Dr. Southall also served as president of the University of Minnesota’s African American Faculty Association.

Information courtesy of the University Women’s Cabinet


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