VWIL Helps Honor Remarkable Virginia Women

October 24, 2019

Located at the state capitol in Richmond, the Virginia Women's Monument features founder Mary Julia Baldwin's name on the Wall of Honor. (Photo credit: Library of Virginia Events)

The Commonwealth of Virginia recently unveiled the first monument in the nation to recognize the full range of women’s achievements on the grounds of a state capitol. It was therefore fitting that the nation’s only all-women corps of cadets was part of the official dedication on October 14.

Located at the state capitol in Richmond, the Virginia Women's Monument features founder Mary Julia Baldwin's name on the Wall of Honor. (Photo credit: Library of Virginia Events)

Cadets from the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) presented the colors at the beginning of the ceremony, followed by special musical performances and remarks by state officials, including Gov. Ralph Northam, and members of the Women’s Monument Commission.    

“MBU and the VWIL corps are honored to partner with the state to celebrate 400 years of women leading positive change for Virginia and our nation,” said Gen. Teresa Djuric, VWIL commandant of cadets.

Cadets from the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership were part of the dedication ceremony on October 14. (Photo credit: Kathy Taylor Scott Photography)

Voices from the Garden: The Virginia Women’s Monument honors women from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities for their significant, but often unrecognized, achievements over the past 400 years of Virginia history. 

University founder Mary Julia Baldwin is listed among the 230 women who helped shape the Commonwealth on the Wall of Honor surrounding a granite plaza. Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell, dean of Mary Baldwin from 1929 to 1935 and the first woman elected to a school board in Virginia, also has her name inscribed on the wall.  

Surrounded by the wall are life-size bronze statues depicting seven historical women: Cockacoeske, Pamunkey chieftain; Anne Burras Laydon, Jamestown colonist; Mary Draper Ingles, frontierswoman; Elizabeth Keckly, seamstress and confidante to Mary Todd Lincoln; Laura Copenhaver, entrepreneur in the textile industry; Virginia Randolph, educator; and Adèle Clark, suffragist and artist. There are plans to add five more statues, and there is room on the Wall of Honor for additional names in the future.

The monument hopes to spotlight women’s contributions and stories, which are significantly lacking in public historical sites, with only 10% of all monuments nationwide representing women.

VWIL presented the colors at the ceremony, which honored more than 200 notable women throughout Virginia history. (Photo credit: Kathy Taylor Scott Photography)