Ada Comstock and Shevlin Hall

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Ada Comstock 1910.png

    Professor Ada Comstock, The Minnesota Alumni Weekly, May 10, 1910, Courtesy of University Archives, University of Minnesota

One of the most significant figures in Alice Shevlin Hall's history is Professor Ada Comstock (1876-1973), Dean of Women.[1] As Dean of Women, she held regular office hours in Shevlin Hall along with many teas so that she could get to know as many young women as possible.[2]  Dean Comstock's goal was to get to know each of the 900 young women at the college.[3] The 1907 Gopher was dedicated to Shevlin Hall and included an inscription by Professor Comstock. She wrote that the building served for health, comfort, the education and refinement of women and, most importantly served to help create: ". . .A sort of personal cultivation which women students derive from free, helpful intercourse with one another; and which manifests itself in tact and sympathy and comprehensions and the open heart."[4] Shevlin Hall was meant to provide women with a space where young women could interact with one another and gain skills that would serve them both as students and later in life.


Student Council of Women's League, Gopher vol. 20, 1907, Courtesy of University Archives, University of Minnesota

Evidently, Shevlin Hall lived up to the purposes that had been used to justify its existence in the first place. In a letter to The Minnesota Alumni Weekly Professor Comstock wrote that: "A student's building is, in my estimation, worth more than any other single addition which can possibly be made." She went on to describe the importance of Shevlin Hall and wrote the building contributed to the health of young women who had to remain on campus all day, as it provided them a space to rest and study and a place to have a meal. Women at Shevlin Hall also were able to use the building as a place to entertain and thus learned how to be good hostesses. Comstock argued that, most importantly, having a shared space encouraged women to look out for one another.[5]


[1] "Ada Comstock Notestein: 1876-1973," The Harvard Crimson, December 20, 1973.
[2] "Dean Comstock Gives Teas," Minnesota Alumni Weekly, October 28, 1907, 7.
[3] "Co-Ed Dean Has Plans," Minnesota Alumni Weekly, May 20, 1907, 7             
[4] Ada Comstock, "The Alice A. Shevlin Hall," Gopher, V. 20, 1907.
[5] Ada Comstock. "What the Building Means," Minnesota Alumni Weekly, March 21 1910, 4.

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This page contains a single entry by Caitlin Cohn published on October 31, 2012 1:18 PM.

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