EWHA WOMANS UNIVERSITY (이화여자대학교)– located in Seoul, South Korea – was founded on 1886 May 31 by Mary F. Scranton. Ewha is the first university and graduate school for women in Korea. The private research university’s alumnae include Korea’s first woman doctor, lawyer, judge, and prime minister. 

Originally known as Ewha Haktang (“Pear Blossom School”), the school was a result of Methodist mission work. In 1882, Scranton moved to Cleveland and attended the local United Methodist Church. The church sent Scranton and her son, William Scranton, on a mission trip to Korea in 1885. William used his medical degree to set up clinics, the first Western doctor to do so in Korea. 

Ewha started as classes for girls hosted in Mary Scranton’s home in Jeongdong, Seoul. Women in 19th century Korea were considered not worth educating, which made Scranton’s work revolutionary. College courses began in September 1910, and the school became an official institute of higher education in 1925. 

In Cleveland, the North East Alumnae Chapter of the Ewha Educational Foundation celebrated the 125th anniversary of the university. While Mary Scranton’s contribution is widely recognized, Lucinda Baldwin’s contribution is less known: after reading the missionary accounts, Baldwin donated $88 (adjusting for inflation today: $2,680.70) for the school in 1883. The chapter focused the anniversary activities in August 2011 on celebrating Baldwin.

Margaret Yuna Kim

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