Some 2,300 historians from 220 institutions in 31 countries traveled to Vassar for the triennial Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Started in 1936 by a group of female historians from Northeastern colleges in response to the exclusion of female scholars from the prestigious history conferences of the day, the “Berks” was the largest regular meeting of historians, except that of the American Historical Association. Vassar professor emeritus Evalyn Clark ’24, who joined the conference in 1939, noted in a 1993 New York Times article that the men’s conferences were dedicated to “introducing grand old men to young men of promise.” She said that she supposed she was now “a grand old woman.”

Dean of the Faculty Nancy Schrom Dye ’69 observed that her professors “like Evalyn Clark, who exemplified a tradition of women who were scholars,” were her most direct influences, and Cynthia Russett, a historian from Yale, said that without women’s colleges like Vassar, Smith and Bryn Mawr, “there for sure wouldn’t have been a Berks.”     The New York Times