Former Prof. Faye Dudden is mourned

Publication Date

Colleagues are remembering Faye E. Dudden, the former professor of history and founder of what is now the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program at Union. She passed away Oct. 16 at the age of 72.

She taught at Union from 1983 until 1997, when she accepted a position at Colgate University. She retired from Colgate in 2016 as the Charles A. Dana Professor of History.

Faye Dudden

A pioneer in the field of women’s studies, her published work focused on women’s occupations and the women’s rights movement in the 19th century.

Her book, Women and the American Theater 1790-1870, won the 1995 George Freedly award for the best book on the history of the American theater. Her most recent book is Fighting Chance: The Struggle Over Woman Suffrage and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction America.

Teresa Meade, Florence B. Sherwood Professor of History and Culture Emeritus, recalled Dudden as a mentor to junior faculty, a conscientious and popular teacher, and an established scholar.

Meade also noted that Dudden was very active in College service, at one point chairing the Faculty Review Board. “No doubt there are several [current faculty] who owe our promotions and tenure to her work as a member of ad-hoc tenure committees, member and chair of the FRB, and generous informal advisor,” Meade said.

“Faye was especially important to me as one of the very few female tenured faculty members in the entire college, and the only other woman in the history department, when I came in 1987,” Meade added.

Dudden authored the entry titled “Women at Union” in the Encyclopedia of Union College History (Wayne Somers, ed.) which begins with Union’s founding as a male-only school. By the 1990s, she observed, “women were a normal presence on the Union College campus, but there remained subtle (and not so subtle) ways in which they did not enjoy the same conditions or status as Union men.”

From 1984 through 1986 at Union, Dudden held a McArthur Foundation Fellowship, which supports a promising junior faculty member.

Dudden, a native of Camillus, N.Y., earned her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.

Survivors include her husband, Marshall Blake.