Skip to main content
Idaho Harvester home, Baby Joe Vandal logo
Special Collections and Archives, University of Idaho Library home
Featured Image

Noted Educator Aurelia Henry Reinhardt

Series: Wonder Women

In 1898, the University of Idaho hired Aurelia Henry before she graduated from UC Berkeley to teach elocution and physical culture–physical culture being women’s physical education. While at the U of I, she started the first dramatics club on the university campus.

Reinhardt as Kate Hardcastle from "She Stoops to Conquer"
Aurelia Henry poses as Kate Hardcastle in Idaho drama's production of 'She Stoops to Conquer'.

Their inaugural production was Richard Sheridan’s The Rivals performed on June 9, 1900, in Moscow’s Grand Army of the Republic Hall. It was the earliest documented play produced by the University of Idaho. One of their performances was a fundraiser for a university gym.

During her tenure, the Idaho legislature debated breaking up the university and moving departments around the state. To boost favor with the legislature, the university sent The Rivals production to Boise. They traveled by train, stopping at towns along the way to perform. An edition of the Argonaut,” 30 years after the fact, claimed that the legislature was so won over by the production that the university was saved from being dismantled.

Rivals performance flyer
Rivals performance flyer
The Rivals' full cast picture [01]
Cast of the Rivals. Reinhardt is center wearing the shirt waist.

Reinhardt went on to be accepted to Yale for doctoral study–a rarity for a woman at that time, then she became president of Mills College in California, the only women’s college on the west coast. She returned to the U of I in 1919 to deliver the commencement address. It was the first time in the university’s history that a woman gave the graduation keynote. She became one of America’s leading educators.

Esther Thomas scrapbook program
Esther Thomas scrapbook program with newspaper clipping pasted on top. In the clipping, Reinhardt's name was misspelled.


Boaz, Martha. “Review of Aurelia Henry Reinhardt: Portrait of a Whole Woman by George Hedley.” California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 2, History of Education Issue (Jun., 1963), pp. 154-156. Published by: University of California Press in association with the California Historical Society. Stable URL: Accessed: 03/09/2014 13:10

Fischer, Clare B. “Aurelia Henry Reinhardt: Mills College President, 1877-1948.” http://www.harvard square biographies/aurelia-henry-reinhardt. Last Accessed: September 3, 2014.

UI VF CLASS, Box 6. University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives, Moscow, ID.

Spokesman-Review. “Woman Speaker at Idaho ‘U’.” May 22, 1919. Figure 2. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt.

Have Feedback on this post or the site?

Send us your thoughts!