Penn People

Sara Yorke Stevenson

1847 - 1921

Penn Connection

  • Sc.D. (hon.) 1894
  • Founder of University Museum

In 1894, at the age of 47, after a long and distinguished career in archaeology, Sara Yorke Stevenson became the first woman to receive an honorary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. She was one of the founders of the Archaeological Association of the University of Pennsylvania, which later became the University Museum. Stevenson became the first women to lecture at the Peabody Museum at Harvard University and the first female member of the Jury of Awards for Ethnology at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, both in 1894. She was also the first president of both the Equal Franchise Society and the Civic Club of Philadelphia.

In addition to these achievements, Stevenson pursued various non-archaeological interests, including becoming a columnist for the Philadelphia Public Ledger under the pen names “Peggy Shippen” and “Sally Wistar” and writing essays as diverse as Insurance and Business Venture in the Days of Shakespeare and Those of William Penn. As one of the principal founders of the University Museum, one whose contributions to the building program of the Museum was essential to its success, Stevenson set a powerful example for generations of women to follow.