About the Project

First Coed Graduates

Beyond Bow Ties is a collaborative effort to familiarize the Washington and Lee community with the turmoil created by President Wilson’s introduction of coeducation in 1985. Our topic grew out of a profound interest in uncovering an aspect of Washington and Lee University’s history that has been largely ignored after its initial inception, but one that affects both social and academic sectors of our lives as students each day.

As members of the Spring Term Digital Humanities course, we are interested in where the core humanities courses intersect with larger digital environments. We began our research in the Special Collections department in Leyburn Library where we found letters between President Wilson and alumni. We then explored archived Ring Tum Phi articles, performed interviews with alumni, and finally collected propaganda pieces that represent both negative and positive sentiments toward coeducation at a university steeped in male tradition.

Gathering information taught us about a piece of Washington and Lee’s history.  However, the process of organizing that information on our public WordPress site demonstrates the point where a Digital Humanities course differs from core humanities courses. Uploading all of our information onto a publicly available site provides more immediate access to documents, photos, surveys, and articles previously dispersed in binders and folders throughout the Special Collections department. By tracking the origin of alumni letters written in 1983 to President Wilson and applying them to Mapplication, we have access to a special representation that allows us to gain a better understanding of alumni views on coeducation. Using visual representations such as Mapplication and easily navigable documents and images, we can make a more convincing argument that directly addresses our hypotheses. Presenting our information in an accessible environment provides more force that we would not have access to if we presented our information in a confined essay characteristic of a humanities course.

Project Mates

Christian Martine ’14, Project Cap’n
Melissa Coggins ’16, Design Co-Cap’n
Kelsey Cotter ’14, Design Co-Cap’n
Patrick Ozark ’17, Development Cap’n