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Schleman, Helen B. (Helen Blanche), 1902-1992



  • Existence: June 21, 1902 - February 5, 1992

Biographical Information

Helen Blanche Schleman was born in 1902 to William and Blanche Schleman in Francesville, Indiana. The Schleman family moved to Valparaiso, Indiana in 1912, where they owned an 800 acre farm, Breyfogle Ranch. William also had a real estate and insurance business; an ice company; and was involved in land development, including the creation of a subdivision with an accompanying golf course. Schleman entered college at Northwestern University in 1920 and earned her A.B. in English literature and Philosophy in 1924. While at Northwestern, she was very involved in sports, the YWCA, student government, Mortar Board, and was the president of the Women's Athletic Association. On the advice of one of her professors, she attended Welleslay College where she earned an M.S. and a certificate in Hygiene and Physical Education (1928). Schleman's first teaching appointment was at Ohio State University, from 1926-1932, in the Department of Physical Education for Women. Before coming to Purdue, she wrote her book Group Golf Instruction in 1933. Helen Schleman's long tenure at Purdue began in 1934, when she was hired as the Director of Residence Halls for Women and met her life-long friend Dorothy Stratton. She also earned a second Master's degree from Purdue ni Psychology and Education in 1934. In addition to her role in the residence halls, she served as the Director of the Housemothers Training School at Purdue. After the United States' entry into World War II, Schleman took a military leave of absence from Purdue to serve in the Women's Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard (SPARS), where she eventually acchieved the rank of Captain while serving with the Navy. Schleman returned to Purdue in 1947, when she began her tenure as Dean of Women. As Dean of Women, she was able to provide support and mentorship for women students who had often been overlooked. Helen Schleman, acknowledged as an "unapologetic feminist" fought hard for the rights and opportunities of women students at Purdue. During her time as Dean, she was instrumental in terminating the curfew for women students, starting a freshman conference program for women, and fighting for equity in the university's hiring and salary practices. In her continued servive to women at Purdue, she established Span Plan, a program that provided scholarships and support to non-traditional women students in an effort to provide them opportunities for career advancement after their children entered school. Over the years, Helen Schleman received many awards, including honorary doctorates from Purdue and Valaparaiso University. She was also very committed to professional and community service, particularly to organizations that served the interests of Women's Rights and Equality. She published many articles and books, and frequently gave speeches to local and national organizations on women's rights and education. Schleman Hall and the Schleman Award were both named in her honor. Schleman remained an active member in the West Lafayette community until her death in 1992.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Biographical Information, 1921 - 2003

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 334, Series 1
Scope and Contents This series contains materials pertaining to Schleman's education, career, and personal life. Types of materials include notes, programs, curriculum vitae, and personal files.
Dates: 1921 - 2003