Berea’s First Ladies

Daniela I. Pirela Manares ’202 Comments

Information and photos provided by Sharyn Mitchell FD ’65, BC ’69, Rachel Vagts and Harry Rice, Berea Hutchins Library Special Collections & Archives.

In 2016, Temvelo Matsebula ’18, a student archives associate with the Special Collections & Archives was conducting research for Women’s History Month. Finding little information on the spouses of Berea’s presidents, she began a quest for more information on these First Ladies of Berea. Their stories reside in Archives and are told through their diaries, church histories and committee minutes. They are mentioned as “one-liners” in the College archives and sometimes in paragraphs in inauguration reviews. Despite the scant coverage, Berea’s First Ladies made an impact on the continuing success of Berea College.

“All of them made significant contributions,” said Sharyn Mitchell, Special Collections & Archives research specialist. “It is probable many made significant sacrifices as well.”


Matilda Hamilton Fee

Maria Ball Babbit Fairchild

Eleanor Marsh Frost

Anna Laura Murch Hutchins

Louise Gilman Hutchins, M.D.

Anne Cobb Smith Weatherford

Jane Baucom Stephenson

Nancy Lee Albright Shinn

Laurie Mulder Roelofs

2 Comments on “Berea’s First Ladies”

  1. Excerpt from Roberta Larew Allison’s memoir: “President William J. Hutchins would be welcoming his last class. His son, Francis, whose wife was a pediatrician, followed his father. We soon saw many changes. I understand Mrs. Hutchins shocked some of the conservatives. Obviously pregnant, she walked around the campus pushing their two-year-old in a stroller. She shocked some of us when she gave a presentation to the Child Development Class, climaxing the visit with an invitation to see the delivery. (No one had the nerve to accept.)”

    1. Thank you Clark for sharing this detail from Roberta’s memoir! From what I gather, Mrs. Hutchins was not afraid to be herself and maybe push the envelope a little. And she had a huge impact on Berea and the region.

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