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The Boston Globe
August 7, 2003, p.1, 3 (Globe West)


Marking 150 Years in Town

Book Documents History of Firsts at State College

By Eun Lee Koh, Globe Staff

In 1946, as a young World War II hero named John F. Kennedy began his quest for elective office, Framingham State College was one of many schools he visited while campaigning for a seat in Congress.

Framingham was also the college where Ruth Graves Wakefield, who would go on to invent the Toll House chocolate chip cookie, earned a degree in household arts.  And Framingham State was the alma mater of Christa McAuliffe, the New Hampshire school teacher who died in the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion.

Those are but a few kernels of Framingham State lore contained in a slender new history of the school written by state Appeals Court Justice R. Marc Kantrowitz and his wife, Marianne Larson, an alumna of the college, to mark its 150th year as a Framingham institution.

Framingham State College, which began as the first public teachers college for women in the country, is a school of many lesser-known first; now, for $19.99, anyone can learn about them through the volume's photographs and captions.  Published by Arcadia Publishing, it will hit bookstores later this month.

The college was established in 1839 in Lexington as the Normal School (from the French ecole normale - model school).  It relocated to West Newton in 1844 and, finally, to Framingham in 1853.

Through photographs, the book traces the school's story - from its birth, with just three registered students, to its current identity as a state-run liberal arts college on Bare Hill that draws nearly 6,000 men and women from all over.

"This is a book geared towards anyone who has a connection to Framingham State College or to Framingham," said Kantrowitz, who has written similar pictorials on Ashland and Canton.  "I hope they come away with the feeling that this is a school with a deep and rich history."

Kantrowitz and Larson began their book project a year ago when they wrote the college's president, Helen L. Heineman, outlining their needs.  Heineman, who is featured in the book as the school's first member, as well as the first woman, to become president, asked college staff, including Christopher Carden, special collections librarian and archivist to pore over old photographs, students' diaries, yearbooks dating back to the early 1900s, and Historical Society material.

"After graduating from school, many [alumnae] went back to Boston or Brockton or other places to teach, but still others wrote about teaching in Argentina and China and a number of other places that you wouldn't imagine people went to during that time," said Carden, recounting some of the lives of the college's earliest graduates.

The book including photographs of notable buildings, everyday life at the college, famous graduates, such as Olivia Davidson, an 1881 African-American graduate who helped found the Tuskegee Institute with her husband, Booker T. Washington and famous visitors, including the late House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. and President Jimmy Carter.

The book also features grainy snapshots of students in some of the earliest graduating classes in the late 19th century and a 1964 photograph of the first men - all 13 of them - to be admitted.

"I want people to know how much this school has contributed to women's higher education," said Larson, a 1976 graduate who majored in French and Spanish. "It began at a time when women didn't have the same opportunities as men did, and this school focused on giving those opportunities to women."

Framingham State University

100 State Street

PO Box 9101

Framingham, MA 01701-9101

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Phone: 508-620-1220