Before 1900, women were denied entrance to many Eastern colleges, which were strictly for men only. But in the western states, where there were fewer people, many colleges were coeducational, including Washington Agricultural College and School of Science. The small land-grant college in farm country did something the larger Eastern universities would not do: give women the chance to use their intellect and demonstrate the benefits of higher education for all.

A new exhibit in WSU’s Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections, “Ambitions and Intellect: Pioneering Women at WSU,” explores the stories of early women contributors at the fledgling college. It is part of this year’s events around Women’s History Month and the Common Reading book “I Am Malala.” An opening reception is planned from 3-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22, in the MASC lobby.

The exhibit also highlights women’s determination to get an education and how they made their mark in society afterward.

“Countless contributions and achievements of women are absent from our historical memory,” said Lipi Turner-Rahman, exhibit curator and WSU Libraries’ Kimble database coordinator. “The 1862 Morrill Act helped remove educational barriers for women in Washington State at a time when most women were not encouraged to go to college.”

For more information about the exhibit, contact Turner-Rahman at ilipi@wsu.edu.