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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Ahern, Mary Eileen (01 October 1860–22 May 1938), librarian and editor, was born on a farm southwest of Indianapolis, Indiana, to William Ahern, a farmer, and Mary O’Neill, both Irish immigrants. In 1870 the family left the farm for Spencer, Indiana, where Mary Eileen graduated from high school in 1878. Following her graduation from Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, in 1881, she worked as a teacher in the public schools of Bloomfield, Spencer, and Peru, Indiana, for eight years....

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Anneke, Mathilde Franziska Giesler (03 April 1817–25 November 1884), suffragist, author, and educator, was born in Lerchenhausen, Westphalia, Germany, the daughter of Karl Giesler, a Catholic landlord and mine owner, and Elisabeth Hülswitt. She grew up comfortably and was well educated, more through learned company than tutors and schools. In fact, as a teacher in later years she would read “Fridjhoff’s saga to her pupils and recite from memory the translation she had read when eleven years old,” given to her by a prince (Heinzen, p. 3)....

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Booth, Mary Louise (19 April 1831–05 March 1889), magazine editor and translator, was born in Millville (later Yaphank), Long Island, New York, the oldest child of William Chatfield Booth, a schoolteacher, and Nancy Monsell. Booth attended local schools at Yaphank and at Williamsburgh, which became part of Brooklyn, where the family moved in 1844 when her father became principal of a public school. Mainly, however, she was self-taught, reading the entire Bible at age five and Racine in the original French at seven. Although her father thought teaching the only suitable career for a woman, and she taught in his school briefly (about 1845–1846), she aspired to a literary career....

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Cary, Mary Ann Camberton Shadd (09 October 1823–05 June 1893), African-American educator, journalist/editor, and lawyer, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Abraham Doras Shadd and Harriet Parnell. Although the eldest of thirteen children, Mary Ann Shadd grew up in comfortable economic circumstances. Little is known about her mother except that she was born in North Carolina in 1806 and was of mixed black and white heritage; whether she was born free or a slave is unknown. Shadd’s father was also of mixed-race heritage. His paternal grandfather, Jeremiah Schad, was a German soldier who had fought in the American Revolution and later married Elizabeth Jackson, a free black woman from Pennsylvania. Abraham Shadd had amassed his wealth as a shoemaker, and his property by the 1830s was valued at $5,000. He was a respected member of the free black community in Wilmington and in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where the family had moved sometime in the 1830s, and he served as a delegate to the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1835 and 1836....

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de Lima, Agnes Abinun (05 August 1887–27 November 1974), progressive journalist, publicist, and educator, was born in Holywood, New Jersey, the daughter of Elias S. Abinun de Lima, a partner in D. A. de Lima and Sons, a banking firm, and Esther Abinun de Lima. Her parents were from Curacao. De Lima was raised in an upper-class home in New York City and Larchmont Manor, New York, and was taught by tutors and music teachers....

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Ende, Amalie von (19 June 1856–25 August 1932), German-American writer, musician, and teacher, was born Amalie Kremper in Warsaw, Poland. The names of her parents are not known. Neither of her parents was native to Poland, but they became entangled in the Polish rebellions of the early 1860s and were forced to leave Poland. At age six von Ende arrived in Milwaukee, where she received early training in music. A student of the German-American writer and activist ...

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Jessie Redmon Fauset. Oil on canvas, 1945, by Laura Wheeler Waring. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation.

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Fauset, Jessie Redmon (27 April 1882–30 April 1961), writer, editor, and teacher, was born outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Camden County, New Jersey, the daughter of Redmon Fauset, an African Methodist Episcopal minister, and Annie Seamon. Fauset was probably the first black woman at Cornell University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in classical and modern languages in 1905. She taught briefly in Baltimore before accepting a job teaching French and Latin at the famed all-black M Street (later Dunbar) High School in Washington, D.C. While teaching, Fauset completed an M.A. in French at the University of Pennsylvania (1919)....

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Holt, Claire (23 August 1901–29 May 1970), Indonesian specialist and journalist, was born Claire Bagg in Riga, Latvia, the daughter of Boris Bagg, a successful leather dealer and manufacturer, and Cecile Hodes. In 1914 the family moved to Moscow, where Claire attended Gymnasiums from 1914 to 1918. In 1920 she married Bernard Hopfenberg, and in 1921 the couple emigrated to the United States. They settled in New York, and Claire gave birth to a son in 1927. Her husband died in 1928....

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Jolas, Maria ( January 1893–04 March 1987), cofounder of the Paris literary review transition, founder of the Ecole Bilingue in Neuilly, and translator and editor, cofounder of the Paris literary review transition, founder of the Ecole Bilingue in Neuilly, and translator and editor, was born Maria McDonald in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) and Donald McDonald. The McDonalds, a wealthy family originally from Virginia, educated their daughter in New York boarding schools but derided her scholarship to the University of Chicago, which she turned down. She was, however, permitted to study voice in Berlin (1913–1914)....

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Lamb, Martha Joanna R. N. (13 August 1826–02 January 1893), author and editor, was born Martha Reade Nash in Plainfield, Massachusetts, the daughter of Arvin Nash and Lucinda Vinton. She was a precocious child and began to write poems and stories before she was ten. From an early age she enjoyed reading books from her father’s library, especially ones devoted to history. She lived for a while in Goshen, Massachusetts, and attended school both in Northampton and in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Tutored in mathematics, she became so adept that she not only taught for a while in a polytechnic institute but also revised a mathematics textbook for use in high schools. She also read widely in English literature and studied foreign languages....

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Lane, Rose Wilder (05 December 1886–30 October 1968), a popular magazine writer, novelist, children's author, and noted libertarian thinker, was born near De Smet in the Dakota Territory (later South Dakota), the only surviving child of the homesteaders Laura Ingalls Wilder and Almanzo Wilder. During Rose's early childhood the family struggled to make a living as pioneers, traveling in a covered wagon throughout the Midwest before finally settling in Mansfield, Missouri, when Rose was eight. Rose's childhood was marked by poverty and the uncertainty of frontier life. She was ostracized by classmates for her shabby clothes and her worn shoes, and she worried constantly about burdening her parents. Among her most charged and symbolic early memories was a house fire that destroyed the family's home and possessions. Young Rose had started the fire to assist her ailing mother on her sickbed, and she would blame herself for the tragedy well into adulthood. Despite these difficulties Lane would later valorize the pioneer experience as a source of fundamental American values—including hard work, stoicism, and mutual aid—that were threatened by the modern welfare state....

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Rose Wilder Lane urging support of the Ludlow Resolution which is being considered by a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, 10 May 1939. Photograph by Harris ﹠ Ewing. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-hec-26664)

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Malkiel, Theresa Serber (01 May 1874–17 November 1949), trade union leader, woman suffragist, publicist, and educator, was born in Bar, Russia. In 1891 she emigrated with her parents to the United States.

Soon after her arrival, Theresa Serber became a pioneer in the Jewish workers’ movement and socialist labor agitation in New York City. Employed in the garment industry, she joined the Russian Workingmen’s Club in 1892. In October 1894 she was among a group of seventy women who founded the Infant Cloak Makers Union (ICMU). Although it was a depression year, she and her associates decided not to accept wage cuts and deteriorating labor conditions any longer. Their action was front-page news. Eventually the ICMU became part of the Socialist Trades and Labor Alliance. In 1896, Serber was among the delegates to the first convention of the latter alliance; in 1899, along with many others, she broke with labor leader ...

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Porter, Charlotte Endymion (06 January 1857–16 January 1942), editor and publisher, dramatist, and translator, was born Helen Charlotte Porter in Towanda, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Henry Clinton Porter and Elisa (or Eliza) Eleanor Betts. She graduated from Wells College (Aurora, N.Y.) in 1875 and then studied Shakespeare and French drama at the Sorbonne in France. In 1883 Porter settled in Philadelphia and became editor of ...

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Straight, Dorothy Payne Whitney (23 January 1887–13 December 1968), publisher, educator, and philanthropist, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Flora Payne and William C. Whitney, then secretary of the navy. Her father had added a fortune made in urban railways to his wife’s dowry and with other socially prominent New Yorkers founded the Metropolitan Opera. Dorothy therefore enjoyed a materially and culturally rich childhood, whose comfort was marred by the death of her mother when Dorothy was six and of her father when she was seventeen. She then came into her own fortune and the temporary custody of her brother ...

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Ida M. Tarbell Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-7371).

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Tarbell, Ida M. (05 November 1857–06 January 1944), investigative journalist and historian, was born Ida Minerva Tarbell in a log cabin on her maternal grandparents’ farm at Hatch Hollow, Erie County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Franklin Sumner Tarbell, a farmer, carpenter, river pilot, and teacher, and Esther Ann McCullough, a former schoolteacher. In 1860 Franklin Tarbell, who constructed wooden tanks to hold oil, moved with his family to Cherry Run for work in an encampment (later called Rouseville) in the oil fields around Titusville, Pennsylvania....