Martha Barksdale of Charlottesville enrolled on September 21, 1918. She majored in English and Education and graduated in June, 1921. Because of her position in the alphabet, Barksdale was the first woman to graduate from William & Mary. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Barksdale continued her studies and later received a Master of Arts degree in 1929. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1931.
As a William & Mary student, Barksdale was a high-profile leader. She was the first president of the Women's Student Council, the first house president in [the original] Tyler Hall, and the first "Miss William and Mary." She was one of the founders of the Alpha Society, which still exists as a secret society for women at William & Mary. She played on the basketball team.
Barksdale later became a professor of physical education and a coach of women's sports. The Martha Barksdale Award is given annually to the top senior-class woman student-athlete at William & Mary.
Barksdale retired in 1966. For her volunteer works in the City of Williamsburg, she received the university's Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 1970. She died in 1974. After her death, three of the playing fields on the main campus were named the Martha Barksdale Athletic Fields.