Christina Gillespie Dickey

Christina Dickey (née Gillespie) grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire where her father taught Latin. She majored in English at Wellesley College (Class of 1926) before receiving a Library Science degree from Simmons College. In 1928 she moved to Hanover, and began working at Dartmouth's Baker Library.  Dickey family lore says she was present when the library lent out its very first book. Christina met her future husband, then undergraduate John Sloan Dickey, while working at the Baker Library.


Christina graciously undertook what her daughter Tina Stearns calls "the job of a generation." During her 25 years as First Lady at Dartmouth, Christina represented Dartmouth to affiliates of the school, visiting scholars and the Hanover community alike. She said that the "purpose of the President's house is to 'front' for Dartmouth and the purpose of the President's wife is to be the hostess for the college." By her own definition, Christina exceeded expectations of a President's wife. President John Kemeny once said about her that "she had a green thumb for human beings as well as flowers," and that "she played a gracious and essential role in the life of the College." 

Christina was formally recognized as an asset to the Dartmouth community in 1970 when she received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from President Kemeny. In the ceremony, Kemeny said that Christina had "warmed the hearts of the Dartmouth family with a gentle presence, a quiet competence, and an unfailing sensitivity to the feelings of others." In the same ceremony, her husband John Sloan Dickey was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

As part of her legacy, Christina leaves behind 12 needlepoint seat covers representing the term of the first twelve Dartmouth presidents. The seat covers, which depict important events from each President's term, were designed by John R. Scotford ('38) and stitched by Christina. Her daughter and granddaughter, along with Eleanor Smith, helped create seat covers for the 13th through 16th Presidents, with the help of designers Louise Hamlin and R. Allan Burt. The seat covers are still in use in the President's dining room.