Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Susan Schramm-Pate


The purpose of this historical biography is to describe the educational experiences of Hilla Sheriff, an extraordinary woman who challenged attitudes about women’s education and employment in the medical field in the United States in the 1920s. Although the majority of women who attended a college or university at that time went to co-educational institutions, they were often limited to traditional gender role coursework such as home economics, nursing, or teaching. This study of Sheriff’s educational experiences particularizes attitudes about women’s education and employment in the 1920s. Many people did not see value in higher education for women. The thread of the “women’s sphere” is woven into the articles about Sheriff and letters she received. A historical lens shapes this study. This interpretive study is the researcher’s effort to recount the meaning the subject gave to the reality around her through the systematic identification of facts surrounding historical events. Further, the study is descriptive in that it documents the academic life of the subject. The findings accumulated through the study reflect the researcher’s endeavor to determine what Sheriff experienced as a student at a coeducational college and medical school. Further, this is an attempt to determine what motivated Sheriff to attend college and medical school. Sheriff’s early involvement with women’s organizations set her on a path to becoming an influential public health leader.


© 2017, Jennifer L. Daniel