Eames, Elizabeth Ramsden. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Born in 1921, Elizabeth Ramsden Eames taught philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale from 1963 to 1990, obtaining the title professor emeritus upon her retirement. She received for A.B. and M.A. in Philosophy from the University in Toronto, and in 1951 her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. Her doctoral dissertation was focused on epistemological issues found in the works of Bertrand Russell and John Dewey. Before teaching in Carbondale, she taught at Smith College, University of Missouri, and Washington University, St. Louis. She wrote numerous articles during her academic career, most concerning Russell, or Dewey and pragmatism, the latter being an interest shared with her husband, S. Morris Eames, who was also a philosophy professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Both Elizabeth and her husband were dedicated teachers, as the scores of letters from appreciative students show. She also wrote Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Knowledge (1969); co-authored Logical Methods (1971) with her husband; co-authored Bertrand Russell’s Dialogue with His Contemporaries with George Kimball Plochmann; and edited Experience and Value: Essays on John Dewey and Pragmatic Naturalism. She held a Carnegie Fellowship for the study of education in Great Britain, as well as a research grant from the American Philosophy Society. She participated often in conferences, colloquiums, and seminars, from American Philosophical Association meetings, to the Winterthur Seminars on American Philosophy, the latter producing books such as The Philosophy of George Herbert Mead (to which she contributed an essay). She also went to China to deliver a series of lectures (Lectures in the Far East, 1980) with her husband.
In addition to her academic career, Elizabeth played a pivotal role in the transformation of Affirmative Action programs and discrimination policies at Southern Illinois University. She taught and worked for the liberation of women, setting up caucuses to deal with the provisions of merit, fellowship and employment opportunities from which they could be benefitted through a free and fair process. She was denied promotion in 1971, this being in addition to her relatively low salary; she filed a case with the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). Numerous other women also filed cases with HEW (and/or the Federal Employment Practices Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) throughout the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, many doing so with the support and assistance of Elizabeth. She became a member of countless committees, sub-committees, and ad-hoc committees concerning discrimination, equal opportunity, and pay equity during this time: she was chairman of the Faculty Status and Welfare Committee; chairman of the American Philosophical Association Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession; a member of the Liberal Arts and Sciences Committee on the Education of Women; and a member of the executive committee of the Women’s Caucus of Southern Illinois University, to name a few. She eventually received back pay, a salary adjustment, and a promotion during her time at Southern Illinois University.