Barnard College: Women and The Hispanic Institute
Women played a central role in the development of the Hispanic Institute from its early years. In a 1925 speech, Carolina Marcial Dorado, founder of the Spanish Department at Barnard College, refers to the rise of enthusiasm for the Spanish language at the University in these terms: “Perhaps it is woman's intuitive knowledge of values that is making her take up the study of Spanish with so much interest, for she is not following in the footsteps of the men students, but is rather directing them to follow in her footsteps." The majority of Columbia's Spanish graduate students in the 1920s came from Barnard College, demonstrating this female leadership.
In March 1939, the Pan-American Society honored Dean Virginia Gildersleeve with a luncheon for her contributions to relations between the United States and Latin American countries. This newspaper clip pictures Dean Gildersleeve, professor Marcial Dorado, and 15 Latin American students of Barnard among authorities of the Pan-American Society at the luncheon.
Up to 1936, Latin American students at Barnard had reached a total of 35. This photograph taken in October 1938 pictures the 16 Latin American students enrolled that academic year, representing Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and República Dominicana. While the caption identifies the photograph subjects as "profesoras y alumnas" Marcial Dorado identifies them all as students in a report.