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Margaret and Stella Stein
Margaret and Stella Stein

When two sisters, Margaret and Stella Stein, walked up the long winding road to the top of Observatory Hill in Allegheny City, Chancellor William Jacob Holland came out to welcome them. It was 1895, opening day of the fall semester, and they were the first women to enter the Western University of Pennsylvania (W.U.P.) as full time students. The Stein sisters had an advantage over previous female applicants because Chancellor Holland believed that two women could look after each other and keep each other company.

The campus in Allegheny City, now Pittsburgh's North Side, occupied land adjacent to the Allegheny Observatory. The school settled there in 1889 after occupying several different buildings in downtown Pittsburgh and a brief stay on North Avenue in Allegheny.

The First Women | How Women Fared | A New Home | College Life | Targets of Humor | Women's Space | For Women Only
Rites of Passage | Black Women | The Twelfth Floor| The War Years | Women in Sports | Coming Into the 70's


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WUP Class of 1898


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Class of 1898
The first women graduates, Stella and Margaret Stein, covered the first year of college work at Pittsburgh's Central High School and entered the University in 1895 as sophomores. The Stein sisters tied for first place in their class at Pitt. The sisters decided Stella should be the valedictorian.

The Western University of Pennsylvania
(WUP) on Observatory Hill in Allegheny City included the Allegheny Observatory (upper right). The campus moved to Oakland in 1909 with a new name: the University of Pittsburgh.

Why Did the Stein Sisters Choose W.U.P.?
The Stein sisters had one other college option in Pittsburgh -- the Pennsylvania College for Women in Squirrel Hill. The women's college was closer to home, but the program at W.U.P. was more to their liking.

The sisters made the daily journey from their home in the East End to the school on the North Side to study mathematics, their favorite subject. They took all the mathematics courses offered, plus astronomy, mathematical chemistry, and surveying.

Both women were "firsts" again when they returned for their master's degrees in 1901. Stella went on to teach modern languages and mathematics at South High School, and Margaret became principal at Avalon High School until she married.