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Kolb, Mary Ellen Rathbun


Biographical Note

Mary Ellen Rathbun was born on March 3, 1923 in Palmer, Massachusettes. She is the only daughter of Oliver and Daisy Rathbun. Mary grew up in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. and graduated from high school around 1940. Mary attended Bradford Junior College, located in Haverhill (formerly Bradford), Massachusetts. Mary completed her two years at Bradford which offered liberal arts courses solely for women to prepare them for bachelors degrees. In September, 1942 Mary's mother Daisy responded to an advertisement in the Troy Record (a local Troy, New York newspaper) announcing that Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute would be accepting applications from qualified women to be admitted to the Institute. Mary entered RPI in the first week of the advertisement, matriculated as the first female in Metallurgical Engineering at RPI. Mary entered RPI during WWII. During the War, RPI began to accelerate degree programs with three terms of sixteen weeks each year, marking the end of the traditional seven week courses.The four-year curriculum was replaced by one of only two and two-thirds years, and new classes entered three times yearly. Mary graduated on April 22, 1945 with one other female student, Lois Graham. Shortly after graduation, Mary worked briefly in the field of engineering. Soon after the War was over, she married Edward Paul Kolb who graduated from RPI on August 20, 1944. Mary has five children, Mary Jane, Paul, Jean, John, and Nancy. Mary Jane Kolb Stanley graduated from RPI in 1969, John Kolb graduated from RPI in 1979, and Mary's grandaughter Kristy graduated from RPI in 2008.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Mary Ellen Rathbun Kolb oral history

Identifier: 2014-1

Two oral history interviews with Mary Ellen Rathbun Kolb.

Dates: Created: 2013-2014; Other: Date acquired: 11/23/2013