Ada Comstock Notestein, Delta Gamma


Ada Louise Comstock Notestein was born in Moorhead, Minnesota. In 1892, she entered the University of Minnesota where she became a member of the Lambda Chapter of Delta Gamma. After two years, she left Minnesota and enrolled in Smith College in Northampton. Massachusetts. In 1897, she graduated from Smith. She headed back to Moorehead and completed a graduate course in teaching at Moorhead Normal School (now Minnesota State University, Moorhead) and again headed east. In 1899, she earned a Master’s degree from Columbia University, and went back to Minnesota where she taught rhetoric at the University of Minnesota. She also served as the institution’s first Dean of Women.

In 1912, she became the Dean of Women at Smith College.  In addition, she served as President of the American Association of University Women from 1921-23.  Comstock became President of Radcliffe College in the 1923 and held that post until she retired in 1943.

After her retirement she married Wallace Notestein, Sterling Professor Emeritus of History at Yale University. They had known each other at the University of Minnesota. She served on the Smith College Board of Trustees. Although she has buildings named in her honor at the University of Minnesota and on the Radcliffe Quad, a program named for her at Smith College has the ability to change lives. Since 1975, the Ada Comstock Scholars Program has helped hundreds of non-traditional age women to complete a bachelor of arts degree at Smith College.  “Ada Comstock Notestein considered education and personal growth to be a lifelong process. As Ada Comstock Scholars, our lives epitomize these ideals. Active and involved in her work for higher education for women until her death at 97, she inspires all of us with her enthusiasm for life and perseverance in the attainment of personal goals,” states the page on the Smith College website.

She is another of the early National Panhellenic Conference women of whom we can all be very proud.

© Fran Becque, 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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