Women's History at Perry Library

Alice R. Burke

Copyright © 2000
Old Dominion
University Libraries


Alice Rebecca Burke was a member of the first class at the College of William and Mary to admit women in 1918. During her college years she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was active in literary societies, the Flat Hat (student newspaper) and athletics. 

In 1921 she received her bachelor's degree from William and Mary and went on to earn a law degree from University of Virginia in 1926 and a master's degree from William and Mary in 1931. After graduation she was hired as a lecturer in Government and English at the Norfolk Division of William and Mary (which later became Old Dominion University). Burke was a highly-respected teacher at the Norfolk Division for eleven years. During that time she also served part time in the library, before a full-time librarian was hired, and as college registrar from 1937 to 1942.

During World War II Burke resigned her position at the Norfolk Division and joined the Navy, where she served with the rank of Lieutenant Commander until the end of the war. After the war she served as defense counsel during war crimes trials in Japan. Burke stayed on in Japan as a legal and government officer in civil affairs with the occupational headquarters in Tokyo. Later she continued her legal career in New York.

Alice Burke demonstrated her fondness for Old Dominion University by including it in her will. After her death in 1973 her estate provided funds for an endowment to be used to purchase new books for the library. These funds established the Alice R. Burke Collection of resources focused on the areas of government and political science. The interest from Burke's generous endowment provides continuous funds for acquisition of new books for the library.

Cynthia B. Duncan | Donna L. Koch | Dorothy P. Ladd | Patricia W. Perry

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