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Interview with Sarah B. Holmes, February 28th, 1978

Part of Charles T. Wethington University of Kentucky: General Oral History Project

Interview with Sarah B. Holmes, February 28th, 1978
Sarah B. Holmes; interviewee. William Cooper; interviewer.
oral histories
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Sarah B. Holmes was born in eastern Pennsylvania near the Pocono Mountains. She was valedictorian of her class at East Augsburg State Teacher's College. Holmes later taught in Glen Ridge, New Jersey while she continued her studies at the Teacher's College, Columbia University, where she met her husband. Her husband obtained his M.D. from Bowdoin College. She recalls they married in 1910 and traveled to Mexico City to start a health program, just as the Mexican Revolution began. Holmes recalls some of their experiences during this time. They later worked at Ohio Wesleyan, during which time Dr. Frank L. McVey asked her husband to help establish a new health center at the University of Kentucky. Holmes's husband died in 1924. By this time, they had four children, so she accepted the position of Dean at Sayre School in Lexington. She also became involved with the University of Kentucky by taking classes, supervising the residence halls, teaching, and serving as a chaperone for social affairs. She recalls that by 1932, the Depression began to affect the university. Funding was cut, salaries were reduced or frozen, but the enrollment still continued to increase. Holmes explains that she helped to organize a cooperative living program for students. She became Assistant Dean of Women at UK upon the recommendation of Dean Sarah Blanding, and then became Dean of Women in 1941, when Blanding went to work at Cornell University. Holmes remembers UK presidents Dr. Frank McVey, and Dr. Herman L. Donovan, who she claims was who she claims was "one of the best administrators" she has ever known. Holmes mentions several Kentucky governors and their involvement with university affairs and she talks about the increased emphasis on athletics. Holmes describes a lack of student interest in the events of World War II. She discusses the changes in the students after the war, and the integration of UK's campus in 1949. She recalls some of the most serious problems she encountered as Dean of Women, including an incident where Ruby Graham, a female student was barred from graduation after climbing a trapeze. Holmes explains this decision has "haunted" her. She recalls satisfying and dissatisfying experiences associated with her position and several faculty members whom she admired. Holmes also remembers the disparity of salaries between men and women. She mentions a lack of etiquette education for current students.
Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky--History., Holmes, Sarah B., Holmes, Sarah B.--Interviews., University of Kentucky.
Charles T. Wethington University of Kentucky: General Oral History Project
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