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One of The First Professors of Women's Studies in the United States, Gladys Beckwith, Died of COVID

Gladys Eloise Beckwith (1929 – December 8, 2020) was a co-founder of the Michigan Women's Studies Association and the founder of the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. She was one of the first professors of women's studies in the United States, teaching at Michigan State University. She was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame in 2012 for her accomplishments in the fields of education and women's rights.


Lansing State Journal File Photo

Beckwith was born in 1929 in Flint, Michigan. She held a B.A. and M.A. in English and a Ph.D. in Education from Michigan State University. MSU then hired her in 1967 to teach in the Department of American Thought and Language (now the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture in the College of Arts and Letters). She retired in 1999 after 32 years. In early 1970, she lobbied for, and with several other MSU faculty, established the women's studies discipline at MSU, focused on women in America. One of the first courses in the program was called "Women in America," focused on national figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1973, MSU Women's Studies department founded the Michigan Women's Studies Association so that those doing research on female authors and historical figures could more easily share their work. With a sponsorship of the association, Beckwith then founded the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame, of which she was the unpaid Executive Director for more than 30 years. Beckwith died of COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan on December 8, 2020, at the age of 91.

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