MWHC “Adds HERStory to history to tell OURstory” at University of Notre Dame Maryland’s Renaissance Institute 

Maryland Women’s Heritage Center board members and volunteers lead a 7-week lecture series, More Maryland Women of Achievement, during University of Notre Dame of Maryland’s Renaissance Institute. The discussions highlight memorable women in civil rights, the arts, science and community service. Dr. Pamela Young, a MWHC board member, leads the coursework. Recordings of each session are available here. 

More Maryland Women of Achievement
Notre Dame Maryland University Renaissance Institute 
October 18 – December 6, 2022

Virginia Poe, Muse, Poetess, Child Bride & Daughter of Baltimore (October 18, 2022)

Erica Jane, Executive Director, Poe Baltimore / The Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum, shares details of Virginia Poe’s short life as Poe’s young cousin, then wife, her tragic early death, and Virginia’s influence on his work.

Sister Mary Meletia Foley: Pioneer in Catholic Female Higher Education (November 1, 2022)

Dr. Amy Rosenkrans, a double Notre Dame University of Maryland graduate, shares the history of the founding of Notre Dame as a women’s college by Sister Mary Meletia Foley. Beginning in 1876 as a teacher in the then Institute of Notre Dame, a Catholic girls finishing school, Sister Mary Melitia’s students demanded more challenging studies equal to those that male students received in all-male institutions of higher learning.

She then advocated tirelessly for higher education for 20 years, ultimately seeing the birth of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, the first Catholic college for women in the U.S. 


Joyce Scott: Artist & Community Member (November 15, 2022)

Gina Lewis, an artist/educator/activist uses acts of creativity, and community engagement to facilitate community participation in the telling of their historic and cultural stories. Based on her conversations with another artist/activist, Joyce Scott, Gina presents Ms. Scott’s work of a wide range of artistry that includes mixed media, sculpting, jewelry making, writing, acting and singing.


Dahomey Women: The Power and Poetry of Lucille Clifton (October 25, 2022)

Sidney Clifton, Senior Vice President of Animation and Mixed Media at the Jim Henson Company and daughter of Lucille Clifton uses her mother’s poetry as a background to describe her life growing up in Baltimore with her famous mother. Lucille Clifton was a Maryland Poet Laureate, feminist and proud Black woman. An artist herself, Sidney is now preserving their West Baltimore home, Clifton House, as a space for other artists in her mother’s memory.

A Woman of Determination: The Life and Contributions of Senator Rosalie Abrams (November 8, 2022)

By Neetu Dhawan Gray, Johns Hopkins University, Center for Talented Youth and Odyssey Program

As the director of the Department of Aging for Baltimore City, Neetu Dhawan Gray first knew Rosalie Abrams as a mentor and the director of the Maryland Office on Aging, but her presentation follows Abrams beyond that into state government noting her many firsts: as first woman to be majority leader of the Maryland State Senate, chair of the Maryland Senate Finance Committee and the Maryland Democratic party. As a former nurse, Abrams’ interests and influence spanned broad areas from healthcare to women’s issues and mental health.


Discarded Legacy Redeemed: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (November 29, 2022)

Dr. Ida Jones, historian and archivist at Morgan State University presents the discarded but now redeemed legacy of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a poet, lecturer and reformer. Harper, born a free Black woman in Baltimore in 1825, became an anti-slavery activist using her published poetry and outstanding oratorical skills on the lecture circuit throughout the northern states, drawing both Black and white audiences. She also championed women’s rights, supporting the women’s suffrage movement. Her lasting legacy is the relevance of her works continuing today.


The Renaissance Institute is a lifelong learning program for adults 50+ that functions under the auspices of Maryland Notre Dame University and has offered classes for over 30 years on the University’s campus. Members suggest class topics. In Fall 2022, the Institute offered 60 classes both on campus and via Zoom. They range from history, science, art, music, literature to politics and furthering our understanding of our community. With the latter in mind, the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center was invited in both 2021 and 2022 to present Maryland Women of Achievement.