The large building in your view was opened in 1971 and carries the name of Helen C. White. It houses a popular student study spot, College Library, and a handful of academic departments, including the English Department. Helen White taught English at UW for forty-eight years, from 1919 to her death in 1967. As mentioned in a previous stop, she was the first woman to become a full professor in the College of Letters and Science.
White was a lifelong devout Catholic and an expert in early modern religious literature, two passions that converged in her many books. She wrote important works on spiritual mystics like William Blake and, in another case, on the social criticism embedded in the religious literature of sixteenth century Britain. She also wrote well-received novels about early modern missionaries that combined detailed historical reconstructions and explorations of religious devotion and contemplation.
White’s career at UW also included constant public and social engagement. She agitated against racial and gender discrimination on campus and was known by her many graduate students as an advocate for their interests. She served on dozens of organizational boards and represented the United States at UNESCO conferences following World War II.
For most of her time at UW, White was a parishioner at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Her career represents the growth of Catholic faculty at UW—there were more than 100 faculty associated with St. Paul’s by the 1950s. She also modelled scholarly and personal religious integration that was replicated by other prominent UW faculty through the rest of the century. Later examples of such integration were Robert Kingdon, a prominent historian of the Protestant Reformation, and Michael Fox, a longtime professor of Hebrew and Semitic Studies who was also an ordained rabbi. There have been, and continues to be, hundreds of other UW faculty who have integrated their religious commitments into their scholarship.
Return to Langdon Street and walk down the hill. Pass the Memorial Union on your left and then look to your left for the small Alumni Park.