Ada Comstock Notestein
Inducted Saturday, September 25, 2004
Ada Comstock graduated from Moorhead High School in 1892 at age 15. She attended the University of Minnesota for two years before transferring to Smith College. Comstock graduated from Smith College in 1897 and returned to Moorhead to attend Moorhead Normal School, getting her teaching certificate.
Comstock taught Rhetoric at the University of Minnesota, and in 1907 she established the first Dean of Women’s Office. Later she served as dean at Smith College.
In 1921, Comstock helped found and was the first president of the American Association of University Women. She gave up that position when she became president of Radcliffe College.
Comstock received many honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates from Harvard, Oxford and Smith College. A building is named after her at each of the three campuses with which she was affiliated — University of Minnesota, Smith and Radcliffe. In 1929, President Hoover appointed her to the Wickersham Commission, which studied alcohol prohibition.
Comstock retained her loyalty to Moorhead all her life. She was a director of the Northern Land Company where her father, Solomon Comstock, served as president until his death in 1933. In her will she bequeathed money to Minnesota State University Moorhead where it has funded an annual series for visiting poets, artists and other programs.
After retirement, Comstock married Wallace Notestein, a professor of history at Yale.
Ada Comstock Notestein died in 1973 at age 97.