Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grace Raymond Hebard

 “Hard work is the only formula for any achievement.” 
—Grace Raymond Hebard

Born this day in 1861: Grace Raymond Hebard (1861–1936), professor, historian, librarian, suffragist, biographer, and chronicler of the West and woman suffrage.

Hebard was a woman of many firsts: she was the first woman to receive a B.S. (civil engineering) from the State University of Iowa (1882), the first woman to be admitted to the Wyoming State Bar (1898) and the first woman to practice law before the Wyoming Supreme Court. She was also the first librarian of the University of Wyoming, creating it from books she personally collected (eventually expanding the collection to 42,000 books by the time she gave up the unpaid position) and was the first president of the state’s library association (which she helped establish). She was also Wyoming’s reigning tennis champion for a stretch.
Hebard began her working career as a draftsman for the U.S. Surveyor General in Wyoming. She continued her education, as well, earning a master’s degree and later a doctorate. In 1891 became a member of the University of Wyoming (Laramie) board of trustees and also served as secretary. She was a powerful member of the board, using her considerable drive to carve a university out of what she saw as the bleak Wyoming landscape. Hebard also began teaching political economy at this time and by the end of her career was head of the department of political economy and sociology. She was a popular speaker and prolific writer, most remembered for her histories of the American West.

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