Clara Paulson

One of the first female faculty members (1939-1971)

Early Years

Clara J. Paulson was born on June 10, 1907 in Buxton, North Dakota. She attended Buxton High School and was a 1930 graduate of Concordia College where she graduated summa cum laude. Paulson served as the assistant dean of women at Concordia from 1930-1935 and again in 1937-1939. She was a student dean at Syracuse University from 1935-1937, where she graduated with her master's of arts degree in 1937.

Years at Luther

Clara Paulson was an English faculty member at Luther from 1939 until 1971.

Paulson was the first woman to receive tenure and move up through the ranks to full professor. Paulson served as the Dean of Women from 1940-1947. Paulson was a Fulbright Exchange Teacher to Bergen, Norway in 1950-1951.

She established Luther's chapter of the American Association of University Women and student organizations for women. Paulson was repeatedly described as being instrumental in defining the place of women on the campus. In 1964, she was initiated into Iowa Upsilon, the state chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, an international honor society for women educators.

She offered Luther's first regular African American studies course, Black Expression in Literature. She attended the Northwestern University 1969 summer workshop on "Race and Class in an Urban Context," a workshop partially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation. The purpose of the workshop was "to help college teachers in American literature, history, civics, social science, and the humanities to strengthen existing courses and to prepare new courses stressing the historical context of American race relations and the impact of urbanization on black Americans and on their position in the class structure." (Center for Urban Affairs)

After Luther

Upon retirement, Paulson moved to northern Minnesota. She was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus. In October 1976, she was awarded the Alumni Achievement Award from Concordia College. Paulson died April 14, 1977.

Other Information

Resources in the Luther College Archives

  • Clara Paulson -- collected materials
  • Luther College 1861-1961 by David T. Nelson
  • Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century by Leigh D. Jordahl and Harris E. Kaasa

Works Referenced

  • Jordahl, Leigh D. and Harris E. Kaasa, Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1986.
  • Nelson, David T., Luther College 1861-1961, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1961.