“She was hired to be a bridge between the righteous anger of the young radical feminists in the divinity school classrooms, and the millennia of theological education that had been exclusively in the hands of men,” Dr. Braude said.
Ms. Buchanan gave permanent shape to the women’s studies program as an arena for credible feminist scholarship. She also ensured that the program would exist into the future by reaching out to philanthropists to build an endowment.
Harvard Divinity School, founded in 1816, did not accept women students until 1955, long after they had been accepted at other divinity schools and at many of Harvard’s other professional schools. Only when the school celebrated the 50th anniversary of admitting women in 2005 was Ms. Buchanan’s portrait displayed along with those of the men.
Speaking at the dedication of her portrait, Ms. Buchanan said: “I wanted the portrait to encourage women of different races, religions, classes and cultural backgrounds to boldly claim the school’s rich legacy, mission and authority as theirs too.”
Constance Hall Buchanan was born in Northampton, Mass., on June 19, 1947. Her father, the Rev. Albert Brown Buchanan, was head of the religion department at the Northfield Mount Herman School in Massachusetts before moving the family to New York City, where he served as rector at various churches. Her mother, Barbara (Masten) Buchanan, helped start the Women’s Talent Corps, which trained women for jobs in their low-income neighborhoods in the 1960s; it is now the Metropolitan College of New York.
Ms. Buchanan attended the Spence School, graduated from Barnard College in 1969 with a major in history, and received her master’s degree in history from Brown University in 1971.
She taught history at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Mass., a unit of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. After studying at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass., for two years on a Rockefeller fellowship, she was hired at Harvard Divinity School.