The “we” compromise—negotiated by Knowles just in time for the 25th anniversary celebration of a coed Yard—exemplifies a sincere, if superficial, effort to include women in Harvard parlance.
The Bradstreet Gate was also meant to symbolize the complete arrival of women at the College, but even her story is not as simple as the plaque suggests.
In fact, the quote appears in a letter from Bradstreet to her children— written just a few years before her death—in which she expresses anger at living in a new, foreign world before she “submitted to it.”
“I changed my condition and was marryed, and came into this country, where I found a new world and new manners, at which my heart rose [in protest],” she wrote in the letter. “But after I was convinced it was the way of God, I submitted to it and joined to the church at Boston.”
More than 300 years after Bradstreet wrote these words, her experience was distorted and obscured to fit a plaque celebrating the equality of women—for a gate into a University that has never had an easy time incorporating them.
With this project, we hope to create a more complete record and to foster a deeper understanding of the experiences of women on Harvard’s campus today.
As this investigation reveals, women may have passed through the gates, but subtle obstacles still stand in their way.
LAUREN R. DORGAN
ANNE K. KOFOL
KATE L. RAKOCZY
CATHERINE E. SHOICHET