Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Adele Hagner Stamp (1893-1974)
MSA SC 3520-13578
Dean of Women, University of Maryland, 1922-1960

Born Catonsville, Maryland 1893. Tulane University, Bachelor of Arts, 1921. University of Maryland, Masters in Sociology, 1924. Graduate work at Catholic and American Universities.  Died October 17, 1974.

Brief Biography:

Social worker with the YMCA and the American Red Cross.  Emeritus rank, University of Maryland, 1960.   Student union at the University of Maryland named after Dean Stamp, 1983.  Elected to Maryland Women's Hall of Fame, 1990.  Founder, University of Maryland Chapter, National Association of Deans of Women.  Founder, University of Maryland Chapter, American Association of University Women.  Founder, University of Maryland Chapter, Mortar Board Society.  Founder, University of Maryland Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma Honor Society for Women Teachers.  Founder, University of Maryland, Women's Student Government Organization.  Founder, University of Maryland Campus Club.  Founder, University of Maryland, Alpha Lambda Delta Women's Honor Society.  Formed student branch of the American Red Cross.  Three time Delegate to Democratic National Convention.  Member, Maryland League of Women Voters.  Member, League of Nations Association of Maryland.  Member, National Democratic Women's Club.  Member, Governor's Committee on Hospital Care.  Member, Baltimore and Washington National Symphony Associations.  Chair of Education and Library Extension Committees,  State Federation of Women's Clubs.  Chair, Status and Education of Women Committees, American Association of University Professors, Washington Chapter.  Inducted into the University of Maryland Alumni Association Hall of Fame.  The Adele Hagner Stamp Fellowship for First Year Student's awarded by Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society.

Extended Biography:

Today, few universities employ a dean for women; however, during the first half of the twentieth century, the position was the highest-ranking one available to women at most universities and colleges.  Originally designed to assuage parents' fears about sending their daughters to college for the first time, deans of women became important advocates for all women on campuses.  At the University of Maryland, Dean Adele Hagner Stamp transformed her job from glorified housemother into a "wedge" career that opened the door for other  women professors and administrators.1  Forty years after her retirement, Dean Stamp is still well remembered for her contribution to her profession, her university, and her community..

In 1893, Adele was born in Catonsville, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore.  After graduating from high school, Stamp began to work and attend college.  From 1913 to 1915, she was an physical education instructor at Catonsville High School.  She then enrolled in the Sophie Newcomb College, the school for women affiliated with Tulane University in New Orleans.  The college was not one of the typical elite colleges of the South.  While some wealthy women attended, most came from families impoverished by the Civil War and who expected they would have to work for a living.  During the summers, Adele continued teaching physical education, first at the Alfred University summer school in western New York, and then at the University of Maryland summer school program.2  On the eve of World War I, Stamp was hired by the War Work Council of the YWCA.  For two years, she was the director of recreation for the Old Hickory Munitions Plant in Jacksonville, Tennessee.  She then was director of the YWCA's Industrial Service Center for women workers in New Orleans.  There, she gained considerable administrative experience by developing a recreation program for five thousand women workers.3  The war slowed down Adele's studies, but she finally graduated with a degree in sociology in 1921 at the age of 28.  She went on to earn a master's degree in sociology at the University of Maryland in 1924 after finishing her thesis on community organization of welfare groups.

After graduation, Adele Stamp had already accepted a position with the Red Cross when she was asked to become dean of women at the University of Maryland for the 1922-23 school year.  Expecting to stay for one term, Stamp remained for thirty-eight years.  As the first dean of women for a school which had only admitted women six years before, Dean Stamp was in charge of ninety college women, and her job description was vague.  Much of her career was spent demonstrating all that a dean of women could accomplish.  She knew that the professionalization of the position was key to being treated seriously by the administration.  Dean Stamp organized the Maryland State Association of Deans of Women in 1923; the organization prospered and, as deans from Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia joined, became an important regional resource for professionals.  Dean Stamp also became active in the National Association of Deans of  Women and helped identify four important roles responsibilities for positions like hers: academic, administrative, advisory, and social.4  She took all four equally seriously and divided her time among them.

One of Dean Stamp's main accomplishments was bringing an academic honor society for women to the campus.  Early in her career, she organized honor societies for freshmen and senior women, but it took ten years to bring in a national organization.  In 1934, Mortar Board, the national academic honor society for women, came to campus.  Soon after, the freshmen honor society became a chapter of the national Alpha Lambda Delta honorary scholastic sorority.5  Along with recognizing academics, Dean Stamp organized several other organizations.  In her first year, she organized the Women's Student Government Association to provide leadership opportunities for her students.6  Then, in 1929, she founded the College Park branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), which is still active today.  Her most memorable initiative was the May Day festival to recognize women students' artistic and academic achievements. The first ceremony, in 1923, was an important ritual for the women of the university, helping them to connect to the mostly male campus.  During the event, the junior class presented a play for the departing seniors and then the seniors tapped the women who would be initiated into the honor society for their senior year.7  Dean Stamp attended every May Day ceremony until 1959, thirty-six in all.8

The largest difficulty that Dean Stamp faced was the challenge of finding adequate housing for her women students.  In her first year, she and some of the ninety women enrolled at the university all lived in an old World War I barrack on the campus.  The building was designed as a temporary structure and did not meet the needs of the women living there.  The issue was important to Dean Stamp because she felt that it was impossible to properly supervise and encourage the women students when they were housed all over College Park.  She lobbied the administration for more permanent housing, but to no avail.  Then, she gained the bully pulpit in 1930 when she became president of the National Association of Deans of Women University Section.  At the time, the housing for women on campus was designed for only fifty students while over three hundred female students attended the university.  Her campaign was a success and, in 1931, the first dormitory for women - Margaret Brent Hall - opened.  Dean Stamp was eager to celebrate the accomplishment and invited prominent members of various religious and civic groups for the opening.  Members of the Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations, the International Federation of Catholic Alumnae, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and deans of women from George Washington University and American University all attended.  Mrs. Charles E. Elliott, president of the Maryland League of Women Voters, spoke and called the dorm: "an aggressive recognition of them [the women students] as an integral part of the University."9  While the first dormitory was a huge success, it was still not adequate for the increasing enrollment of women on campus.  Housing remained a problem for Dean Stamp until she retired.

In addition to her duties as dean, Stamp was active in her community.  She served on the board of the State Federation of Women's Clubs.  As the chairman of education for the clubs, she gave speeches throughout Maryland on better schools, higher teacher salaries, and in support of important education legislation.10  Along with her work for women's clubs and the American Association of University Women, Stamp belonged to the League of Nations Association of Maryland, the League of Women Voters, and the Women's National Democratic Club.  She attended the national conventions for the Democratic Party three times with the Maryland delegation.11

Dean Stamp's retirement in 1960 was a major event on the campus of the University of Maryland.  The Board of Regents unanimously voted her "Dean of Women Emerita;" she was the first woman at the university to be honored with the "emeritus" status.12  Dean Stamp had served the campus exceptionally well for thirty-eight years.  She had an amazing memory and recognized former students on her travels in such unlikely places as Paris, Salzburg, Oslo, and Carcassone.13 She never lost sight of the importance of her students and truly loved her work with them.  In an interview at the time of her retirement, she commented: "The students are always one jump ahead of me - nobody ever catches up with them - and that's what I love about youth."14  She passed away in Silver Spring in 1974 at the age of 81, and has received numerous honors posthumously.  Alpha Lambda Delta now awards an annual scholarship in her name and, in 1983, the university named the student union after her.  She was inducted into the Prince George's Hall of Fame, the University of Maryland Hall of Fame, and, in 1990, the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.  The special citation Adele Stamp received from the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors accurately praises Stamp as "one of the most loved people in Maryland - a woman of grace and charm, beauty and remarkable achievement."15

Endnotes:

1.  Bashaw, Carolyn Terry.  "Stalwart Women:" A Historical Analysis of Deans of Women in the South.  New York: Teachers College Press, 1999: 2.  return to text

2.  Bashaw 32.  return to text

3.  "Maryland's Woman Dean has World War Experience,"  The Baltimore Sun, 15 October 1939.  return to text

4.  Bashaw 68.  return to text

5.  Hailey, Jean R.  "Adele Hagner Stamp, Emeritus Dean at Maryland U., Dies," The Washington Post, 18 October 1974.  return to text

6.  "Dean Stamp Retires Today; Ends 38 Years of Service," The Diamondback, 1 December 1960.  return to text

7.  Bashaw 76.  return to text

8.  "Dean Stamp Retires Today; Ends 38 Years of Service," The Diamondback, 1 December 1960.  return to text

9.  qtd. in Bashaw 41.  return to text

10.  Hailey.  return to text

11.  Ibid.  return to text

12.  Bashaw 11.  return to text

13.   "Dean Stamp Retires Today; Ends 38 Years of Service," The Diamondback, 1 December 1960.  return to text

14.  McPherson, Bill.  "She's Leaving Her Old Stamping Grounds," The Washington Post, 11 December 1960.  return to text

15.  "Dean Stamp Retires Today; Ends 38 Years of Service," The Diamondback, 1 December 1960.  return to text

Extended biography written by 2004 summer intern Amy Hobbs.

Return to Adele H. Stamp's Introductory Page
 


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