Flora Richardson, who has the double distinction of being both a member of KU’s first graduating class and its first female graduate.
Richardson’s intellectual life didn’t end with her baccalaureate. She would earn her Master of Arts degree from KU in 1875, and engaged in a small amount of post-graduate study afterwards. She enrolled in the famous Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, one of the nation’s first book clubs, and earned another diploma after four years of home study. Apparently, Richardson also engaged in a bit of social activism. In her obituary, daughter Nellie Colman Bigsby praised her reformist spirit, claiming, “There has been no movement for the benefit of her community or for women and children that did not receive her ardent support. Women’s suffrage, the women’s rest room, the various plans to provide high school privileges for rural pupils and the farm bureau for rural women, each in their turn were things she was untiring in her efforts to secure.”