10 + 2 Sorority Women With Pulitzer Prizes

In sorting books for the upcoming Friends of Carbondale Public Library Book Sale, I came across a vintage copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. It has a “Pulitzer Prize Novel” prominently displayed on it. That got me to thinking about sorority women who have won Pulitzer Prizes. Here’s Harper Lee and 10 other members of National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) sororities who have won a Pulitzer (or three). 

photo (38)

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, Kappa Delta, Randolph Macon University, Novel (1932), The Good Earth. 

Shirley Christian, Alpha Delta Pi, Pittsburg State University, International Reporting (1981). Her dispatches from Central America appeared in The Miami Herald.

Doris Kearns Goodwin, Delta Delta Delta, Colby College, History (1995), No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II.

Marguerite Higgins Hall, Gamma Phi Beta, University of California – Berkeley, International Reporting (1951). She was the only woman in a group of six reporters who received the award for their work on the reporting of the Korean War. She was also the first woman to win in that category. She worked for the New York Herald Tribune at the time. See http://centennial.journalism.columbia.edu/1950-the-korean-war/ to read one of her dispatches.

Harper Lee, Chi Omega, University of Alabama, Novel (1961). To Kill A Mockingbird. 

Joyce Carol Oates, Phi Mu, Syracuse University, Fiction: (2001) Blonde; (1995) What I Lived For; (1993) Black Water. 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Kappa Alpha Theta, University of Wisconsin, Novel, (1939), The Yearling.

Nan Robertson, Alpha Phi, Northwestern University, Magazine Writing (1983), for the article published in the The New York Times which recounted her struggle with toxic shock syndrome.

Carol Warner Shields, Alpha Delta Pi, Hanover College, Fiction (1995), The Stone Diaries.

Lois Wille, Alpha Gamma Delta, Northwestern University, Editorial Writing (1989), for her Chicago Daily News editorials on a variety of local issues. She also was part of the Chicago Daily News team which won a 1963 Public Service for raising awareness of the need for birth control services in area public health programs.

Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Zeta Tau Alpha, Florida State University, Music (1983), Symphony No. I (Three Movements for Orchestra).


Before I left town a week and a half ago, I wrote this post. I had the name of Mary Wells Knight Ashworth, Gamma Phi Beta, in my spreadsheet of notable sorority women, but when I went to the Pulitzer Prize official website I did not find her name. Therefore, I did not include her.  However, after some more research, I see that she should have been included on the list; I apologize for not mentioning her (I will also edit that post. Perhaps someone should alert pulitzer.org because they seem to have forgotten her and her associate). 

In 1924, she graduated from Hollins College (now University) in Virginia where she was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She worked as an historical associate for Douglas Southall Freeman. Freeman died in 1953 before the sixth volume of his definitive history of George Washington was done. Ashworth, along with John Alexander Carroll, finished the project. Together, they completed the seventh volume, First in Peace. Freeman is listed as the winner of the 1958 Biography (or Autobiography) Pulitzer Prize, but there should be two additional people named. Ashworth and Carroll shared the award for the seventh volume.

Freeman was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1955. She also won a Columbia University Loubat Prize in 1958. She died in 1992.


(c) Fran Becque, www.fraternityhistory.com, 2014. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest www.pinterest.com/glohistory/

This entry was posted in Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Colby College, Delta Delta Delta, Fran Favorite, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Delta, Northwestern University, Phi Mu, Sorority History, Syracuse University, University of California at Berkeley, Women's Fraternities, Women's Fraternity History, Zeta Tau Alpha and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.