IT IS UNCLEAR WHEN AGNES EDWARDS slept. As a sophomore at Berkeley in the fall of 1918, she packed her schedule with social activities. In her letters home to her parents, movies, dances, and hikes with friends mingled with pep rallies and volunteer work at the newly opened Red Cross chapter on campus.
What a journey it has been. This year marks 150 years since women were first admitted to Berkeley. To see just how far we’ve come, the California editorial team designed a timeline of women’s contributions to the university and the world. Today’s students stand on the shoulders of the late 19th century trailblazers studying engineering and agriculture in rooms dominated by men, and every pioneering scientist, artist, and politician who followed.
“Since I’ve gotten old, I have wondered how I did all the things that I did then,” Ida Louise Jackson reflected in 1984 at the age of 82. Jackson participated in some of the major movements of the 20th century: the Great Migration, school desegregation, the battles for equitable education and health, and the Civil Rights Movement. Some of her earliest activism began at Berkeley when she organized the first Black sorority on the campus.
In 1918, America was at war and students arriving at the University of California in the fall of that year found their campus transformed. From the Center Street entrance, the view of the hills was now obscured by large new barracks and the dark smoke issuing from the powerhouse gave the place the look of a factory. Everywhere young men wore the khaki uniforms of the various military outfits represented on campus—the Student Army Training Center, the School of Military Aeronautics, the Naval Unit, and the Ambulance Corps.