The alumna lauded for being the first woman to receive the College’s Alumni Medallion in 1932 is now being honored with a historical state marker.
Cornelia Storrs Adair (1888 – 1962), who attended the College of William & Mary in the early 1920s, became the first classroom teacher elected president of the National Education Association in 1927. A noted education pioneer, she began teaching in Richmond City Public Schools in 1904, and went on to serve for more than 25 years in the Virginia Education Association. During the great Depression, she directed the Works Progress Administration’s Emergency Education Program in Richmond.
Adair’s marker is among the 13 new markers recently approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), which sponsors the program. The final location of the highway marker has yet to be determined.
Throughout the past century, the Adair family has retained strong ties to the College. Adair Hall is home to the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences, and also houses studio space used by the Dance Program offered through the Department of Theatre, Speech, and Dance. The building is named in Cornelia's honor. Her nephew, Douglass Adair (1912 – 1968), taught at William & Mary from 1943 – 1955 and championed for the W&M Quarterly, a magazine of early American history and culture, serving as the editor. Renowned poet Virginia Hamilton Adair (1913 – 2004), Douglass’s wife, also taught classes part-time at the College from 1948 – 1951.
The Virginia highway marker program, which began in 1927, has more than 2,200 official historic markers thought the Commonwealth, according to the DHR. Additional state markers recognizing William & Mary alumni for their significant contributions to Virginia include former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler and former Virginia Governor William Giles.