Constance Page Daniel

Constance Page Daniel (Col ‘31)

Constance Page Daniel (Col ‘31) had an unusual opportunity to study at Cornell. “This rich woman came by my father’s office one day and said she had an interest in sending Southern women to Northern schools,” says Daniel. Her father was mathematics professor James Morris Page, dean of the faculty, and Daniel had grown up on McCormick Road in the heart of the University, but she moved north and studied at Cornell until “the [stock market] crash came and there was no more money.”

When Daniel returned to Charlottesville, her father said, “We’re going to get you to be the first woman to graduate in the regular winter school.” At the time, women could attend summer classes and study nursing or education. There were female graduate students, but undergraduate women in the College of Arts & Sciences were uncommon.

When reflecting on the news that more than half of the students currently at the University are women, Daniel says, “I’m glad my father’s not here to see that. He thought women at the University were anathema.” She laughs. “And I was the worst of all.”

After raising a family and working in Newport News, Va., Daniel returned to live in Charlottesville. Luca DiCecco

Growing up on Grounds, Daniel’s family had often hosted Sunday night dinner for students. She’d gone to dances at Mad Bowl and attended fraternity parties. “If you were a woman and could breathe, you usually had four or five men following ‘round behind you,” says Daniel. “So my social life was more than anyone could expect.”

Daniel’s experience in UVA classrooms was less hospitable than her time as simply a faculty daughter. “When I’d walk into a classroom, the students would all stomp,” Daniel says. “It was their signal of derision. They didn’t want coeds at the University and I was a woman, so I had no business there. And if I dared to answer a question or make a comment, they’d stomp again. So I was stomped my whole way through school.”

Read more: A conversation with Constance Page Daniel on the ‘20s and ‘30s at UVA

Next: Margaret Sutherland Coleman and the post-World War II years