Truth to Power
While Croasdale’s journey from Technical Assistant in the Department of Zoology to Professor of Biology is an interesting example of the importance of allyship when combatting discriminatory practices, it is equally important to remember her own self-advocacy. After all, it was her request for a meeting with Deputy Provost Rieser in 1959 that started the ball rolling for the men with administrative power in her Department to become accountable for her situation.
“It’s not what I’d call a brilliant career, but it has been fun most of the time, and I’m still going strong—I hope.”
Similarly, the congratulatory letters informing her of promotions, raises, or awards warranted responses that demonstrate the subtle and age-old power in a woman’s ability to answer. Her replies to mundane professional correspondence, preserved in her Personnel File, often betray a sharp wit and sense of self-deprecating humor at her position, as in a 1968 letter to Rieser in which she refers to her promotion to full professor after 32 years of work at the college a “lucky break.” She demurs at the end of the same letter: “It’s not what I’d call a brilliant career, but it has been fun most of the time, and I’m still going strong—I hope.” Her signature brand of self-deprecation fused with a slight passive-aggression, which is featured most prominently in this closing line, shows that she did stand up for herself in the ways she thought potentially productive.
Croasdale is remembered by her friends and mentees as warm and genuine, but since most of her records are professional letters, that side of her—authentic and unbridled emotion—is rare to see. A selection of her witty replies has been made available below, including the 1968 response to Rieser.