Hanna Holborn Gray was the first female President of the University of Chicago. But, the journey to that esteemed position passes through plenty of trouble. In 1934, Hanna and her family flee Germany as Hitler comes to power. Hanna lands in Britain where she learns English and adapts to life in the UK. Hanna’s father manages to get a teaching job at Yale University and the family moves again. Life in New Haven manages to be both exciting and dull at the same time. Hanna wants to live in New York City. Despite her initial resistance, Hanna decides she’ll pursue an academic life like her father did. She departs from her father’s career path when she becomes the first female Provost at Yale.

An Academic Life shows the resistance universities had to women teachers and administrators. Hanna Holborn Gray struggles to change the “Old Boys” club and be recognized for her accomplishments. I found her story compelling and inspiring. You would, too. GRADE: A-

8 thoughts on “AN ACADEMIC LIFE: A MEMOIR By Hanna Holborn Gray

      1. george Post author

        Rick, librarianship is a female-dominated profession. When I was a librarian, I was deferred to because I was a rarity. Even now, my local Public Library staff tries to recruit me to work there (full or part-time) because they have no male librarians.

  1. wolf

    It wasn’t only Hanna, her whole family left or had to leave when the Nazis came to power. Her father and grandfather also were famous scientists.
    Don’t know if they were Jewish or just antifascists though.
    This reminds me of a similar case:
    Emmy Noether who was the first woman in 20th century maths and one of the best mathematicians generally. She was not allowed as a prof at first, her lectures were officially done by her mentor Hilbert. Even Einstein admired her!
    Since she was Jewish she lost her job, went to the USA but died in 1935 from an illness – only 53 years old, what a pity!


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