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Remembering Jill Ker Conway, The First Female President Of Smith College –Fresh Air npr
Released June 14, 2018
Today we’re going to remember Jill Ker Conway, who influenced many women as a feminist, memoirist, women’s history scholar and the first woman president of Smith College, one of the largest women’s colleges in the world. She served in that position from 1975 to 85. Conaway died June 1 at the age of 83. We’ll hear excerpts of my three interviews with her recorded between 1989 and 1998. We talked about establishing her career at a time when many doors were closed to women, how she became a feminist, how she married historian John Conway in spite of the fact she had always thought marriage would be the wrong choice for her and how she later dealt with his depression and then his death.
Our first interview was recorded in 1989 after the publication of her first memoir, which became a best-seller and a touchstone book for many women. Titled “The Road To Coorain” (ph), it covered her childhood growing up on a remote sheep farm, which her parents ran in the Australian outback where she was physically and intellectually cut off from the world. The book ends with her decision to leave Australia in 1960 when she was 25 to attend graduate school at Harvard, hoping to find more opportunities for women in the U.S. than she’d found in Australia.
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