In recent months, the Office of the Bicentennial sponsored two events intended to increase public recognition of underrepresented individuals who have shaped Indiana University. First, on September 23, the Student Building on the Bloomington campus was renamed the Frances Morgan Swain Student Building. Frances Morgan was born in Knightstown, Indiana, in 1860 and attended IU around 1888-1890 (the exact dates are unclear). While at IU, Morgan married Joseph Swain, and returned as first lady of the university when Swain became president. As first lady, Frances Morgan Swain lobbied the trustees for a space devoted to female students on campus, and now, over a century later, that space bears her name.
On March 27, the Office of the Bicentennial honored IU’s first female African American student, Carrie Parker Taylor, with a portrait. Carrie Parker was born in 1878 in Enfield, North Carolina, to former slaves, and moved to Indiana as a toddler with her family. Determined to get an education, she persisted through high school despite being repeatedly flunked by a school principal dedicated to preventing her from advancing. She matriculated into IU on January 4, 1898. After a year of working full time and taking a full load of classes, Parker took a leave of absence from IU. She intended to return, but instead married John G. Taylor and never completed her degree. Nevertheless, she remained an inspiration to her family and community, and her portrait, by local artist Ashley Smith, will occupy a permanent spot in the Indiana Memorial Union women’s exhibit.
Both of these Bicentennial events will help make the contributions of women more visible at IU.