In 1843, as Margaret Fuller returned from her trip to the western prairies and began to prepare the manuscript of Summer on the Lakes, the book that recounted her journey, she conducted much of the supporting research for her writing in the Harvard University Library. She was, according to biographer Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the first woman to be allowed that privilege. As he recalls, she sat "day after day, under the covert gaze of the undergraduates who had never before looked upon a woman reading within those sacred precincts" (194).
Some thirty years later, when Catharine Beecher was in her seventies, she decided to enroll in a course at Cornell University. As her biographer recounts, when she announced her decision to Andrew White, the university's president, he replied, "with some embarrassment,"
"I regret to say, Miss Beecher, that as yet, we have no courses open to women."
"Oh, that is quite all right, Doctor White, in fact I prefer to take it with men," she disarmingly replied.
That question seeming to be settled, Doctor White inquired whether he could be of service in finding her a place to lodge in town?
"No, thank you, Doctor White," she answered, "I shall room in..." one of the dormitories on the campus.
"But, Miss Beecher," protested Doctor White, "that is a dormitory for young men, it has no accommodations for ladies!"
"I have inspected the accommodations and find them entirely satisfactory," imperturbably replied Miss Beecher, "and as for those young men, who are of appropriate ages to be my grandsons, they will not trouble me in the least." She stayed, took the course, roomed in