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Emma Burkhart Hough
Emma Burkhart Class of 1926
Dual degree in English and Biology. Activities and Accomplishments: Aonia Literary Society; Sigma Tau Delta English Language and Literature Fraternity; Vice President Women's Athletic Association; Secretary-Treasurer (Junior) and President (Senior) Biological Club; Y. W. C. A.; May Fete; Y. W. Pageant; Peacock Staff; Botany Assistant; Winner of Tennis Tournament.
Women had just recently been guaranteed the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment on August 18, 1920. Although conventions were changing in the mid-20s, most working women were single and worked as teachers or nurses as those were considered suitable professions for women. Married women were expected to stay home and take care of the household while their husbands worked.
Emma had been told by her mother that she could enroll at Upper Iowa University if she took sewing and swimming. The sewing class taught students how to make plain and fancy stitches, seams, and simple garments by hand and machine. The goal of physical education for women at UIU was not to develop highly specialized athletics, but instead to "create in all the girls of the college a wholesome interest and pleasure in outdoor exercise." (1922 Student Handbook) Swimming could be substituted for one hour of floor work.
Ideals and morality held prime importance at the university. "The College aims to develop symmetrical men and women, mentally, morally and physically. This development demands a clear mind, a noble soul and a sound body…. As to general conduct it is understood that students will be guided by those social and ethical standards which govern the best men and women everywhere. These laws are too well known to need statement." (1922 Student Handbook, page 3)
UIU students in the 1920s were governed by rules unknown to today's college students. The College designated study and recreation hours expected to be followed by all students on campus and in their boarding houses. "Study hours shall be quiet hours in all houses. Anything that would interfere with study is forbidden." (1922 Student Handbook, page 15) Socials and parties were held with the approval of the Dean of Women or the College Office during general recreation hours between 4:30 and 8:00 p. m. The Dean of Women kept a list of approved chaperons for such activities as auto trips, picnic parties, and excursions. Sunday was set aside as the Sabbath or Holy Day and attendance at Chapel was expected, while study on Sunday was highly discouraged.
Students were only allowed to room and board at such places approved by the College. Men and women were not allowed to room in the same houses, and no students were allowed to receive callers of the opposite sex in their private rooms at any time. Householders approved by the college were expected to maintain hygienically clean premises with sufficient light and heat. The College designated that heat be available between 6:00 a. m. until 10:00 p. m. and that there should be hot water for baths.
The Equal Rights Amendment for equality between men and women was first introduced to the U. S. Congress in 1923, and despite many people's misperceptions, has yet to be ratified on a federal level. Iowa passed its equal rights amendment in 1972. In 1926 when Emma attended school, it was still expected that women were treated differently than men with rules in place to protect women and their reputations.
The 1922 Student Handbook designated special rules for women students. Young women were allowed to receive calls until 10:00 p. m. on Sunday and Monday nights and until 10:30 p. m. on Saturday. Doors were locked at 10:00 all other nights, and lights were out by 10:30. Any student who entered into the marriage relation without the approval of the College authorities automatically severed his or her connection with the College.
A young woman who expected to be absent from her rooming place during the evening was expected to inform her household where she would be and at what hour she planned to return. Girls leaving town were to report beforehand to the Dean of Women and to inform her household. Householders were told to report to the Dean of Women all illness of women students requiring care of physician, and all habits of study, sleep or recreation likely to injure health or reputation of students or bring discredit on school. Householders were to furnish such confidential information to the College Office concerning irregularity of hours or study and social habits of students. (1922 Student Handbook pages 19-20)
Despite these rules that sound so strange to modern ears, it is clear that Emma Burkhart Hough was active and engaged while she attended Upper Iowa University. After graduation she became the physical education teacher and head girls basketball coach at her hometown school. She later taught in Ironwood, Mich., and served as librarian in Manistee, Mich. The adventuresome spirit so apparent during her college years stayed with her as she traveled to 48 states, England and Germany.