A collection of Jean Walton’s documents covering the founding and development of Intercollegiate Women’s Studies at The Claremont Colleges was donated to the IWS Library in 2003. The Jean Walton Papers are housed at the Honnold Mudd Library of the Claremont Colleges.
About Jean Walton: 1914 – 2006
IWS cofounder Jean Walton, was instrumental in building Women’s Studies at the Claremont Colleges. She earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Wellesley before coming to Pomona to serve as Dean of Women in 1949. Her interest in developing Women’s Studies blossomed in the late 60s and early 70s, as programs were being developed around the country and courses began appearing at the Claremont Colleges.
On sabbatical in 1971, Jean took a consciousness-raising trip across the U.S., visiting Women’s Studies programs and faculty and reading everything she could. On her return, she beganplanting the seeds to develop Women’s Studies at Pomona. Under the auspices of the newly founded Commission on the Education of Women, and with funding from the Lebus Charitable Trust, Jean brought feminist historian Gerda Lerner to campus for a two-week visit in 1978; that visit brought together women from around the colleges who were interested in Women’s Studies and was a transformative experience.
Jean then began organizing regular meetings of interested faculty, which evolved into the IWS field group. In December 1978, the newly recognized “Field Committee” asked the Presidents for a coordinator position, with the expectation that Jean would fill the role. She became the first coordinator in July 1979, upon her retirement from Pomona, serving until 1983. She remained involved in Women’s Studies for many years. Her essay on the founding of IWS was published in the Feminist Press anthology, The Politics of Women’s Studies: Testimones of Thirty Founding Mothers, available in the IWS library. (Another history of IWS, written by Sue Mansfield, who also helped found IWS, is available at our website.) In the words of Jean Lipman-Blumen, another of the wonderful women who helped start Women’s Studies here, “Jean Walton was truly a founding mother for the Claremont Women’s Studies Program. She was the epitome of a feminist role model: intelligent, strong, compassionate, savvy, and dedicated.”