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Andrews, Fannie Fern Phillips (25 September 1867–23 January 1950), pacifist and educational reformer, was born in Margaretville, Nova Scotia, the daughter of William Wallace Phillips, a shoemaker, and Anna Maria Brown, a church activist. Andrews grew up in Lynn, Massachusetts; she graduated from Salem Normal School in 1884 and taught school in Lynn between 1884 and 1890. In 1890 she married Edwin G. Andrews, a salesman in Lynn; they had no children. In 1895–1896 Andrews resumed her studies, at the Harvard summer school, and in 1902 she received her A.B. from Radcliffe in education and psychology....

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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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Emily Green Balch Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114732).

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Balch, Emily Greene (08 January 1867–09 January 1961), peace activist, sociologist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, the daughter of Francis Vergnies Balch, a lawyer, and Ellen Maria Noyes. She was in the first graduating class at Bryn Mawr College, earning her degree in 1889. After studying privately for a year with sociologist ...

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Kay Boyle. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113309).

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Boyle, Kay (19 February 1902–27 December 1992), writer, educator, and political activist, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the daughter of Howard Peterson Boyle, a lawyer, and Katherine Evans, a literary and social activist. Her grandfather had founded the West Publishing Company, and the financial security afforded by this background allowed the Boyle family to travel extensively. Boyle’s education was sporadic, culminating in two years of architecture classes at the Ohio Mechanics’ Institute (1917–1919). In 1922 Boyle joined her sister Joan in New York City, where she began to work for ...

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Shirley Chisholm. Announcing her candidacy for presidential nomination, 25 January, 1972. Photograph by Thomas J. O'Halloran. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-ppmsc-01264).

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Chisholm, Shirley (30 November 1924–01 January 2005), first African-American congresswoman and educator, was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Charles Christopher St. Hill, a factory worker, and Ruby Seale, a seamstress and domestic worker. She was sent to Barbados for economic reasons at the age of three, where she lived on her maternal grandmother's farm and attended elementary school. Upon returning to New York seven years later she attended local public schools and graduated from Girls' High School in 1942. Despite scholarship offers her family lacked the funds to help her attend a more distant college, so she entered nearby (and tuition-free) Brooklyn College with the intent of becoming a teacher. She became interested in politics while earning her B.A....

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Clapp, Margaret Antoinette (11 April 1910–03 May 1974), educator and diplomat, was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the daughter of Alfred Chapin, an insurance broker, and Anna Roth. Educated in public schools, she received an A.B. with honors from Wellesley College in 1930, having served as student government president her senior year. Moving back to New Jersey, she commuted to New York City where she attended graduate school part time and taught English literature first at the Todhunter School (1930–1939) and then following its merger, at the Dalton School (1939–1942). She received an A.M. from Columbia University in 1937....

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Coppin, Fanny Jackson (1837–21 January 1913), educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father’s name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by ...

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Couzins, Phoebe Wilson (08 September 1839?–06 December 1913), lawyer, suffragist, and lecturer, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of John Edward Decker Couzins, a carpenter and builder, and Adaline Weston. Her parents were both politically active. Her father held the posts of chief of police of St. Louis and U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri. Her mother served as a nurse to the Western Sanitary Commission during the Civil War where she provided aid to wounded and sick soldiers. Both parents instilled in their daughter an activist spirit....

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de Cleyre, Voltairine (17 November 1866–20 June 1912), teacher and anarchist lecturer and writer, was born in Leslie, Michigan, the daughter of Hector De Claire, a tailor, and Harriet Elizabeth Billings, a seamstress. Despite being raised in poverty, de Cleyre received formal schooling in a Catholic convent until age seventeen. Her experience in the convent influenced her turn to free thought and anarchism. In her speech “The Making of an Anarchist” she noted that “there are white scars on my soul yet” as a result of the convent life ( ...

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De Zavala, Adina Emily (28 November 1861–01 March 1955), teacher and historic preservationist, was born at De Zavala Point, Harris County, Texas, the oldest of six children of Augustine De Zavala and Julia Tyrell. Her paternal grandfather was Lorenzo de Zavala, a native of Yucatan and first ad interim vice president of the Republic of Texas. In 1867 her father, a merchant and shipbuilder, moved his family to Galveston, Texas. Adina was enrolled as a student at the Ursuline Convent there from 1871 to 1878. In 1878 the family moved to Shavano, Bexar County, Texas, where Augustine De Zavala owned a ranch and general store. Adina De Zavala enrolled at Sam Houston Normal Institute in Huntsville, Texas, in 1879 and received a teacher’s certificate in 1881. She taught elementary school in Terrell, Texas, from 1884 to 1886; in Austin in 1890; and in San Antonio from 1893 to 1907. Her father died in 1892, and in 1897 she and her mother and sisters moved from the ranch into a home in San Antonio, where she resided for most of the rest of her life. She resigned from the San Antonio school system in January 1907, after receiving a reprimand from the school board for “assuming an independent and insubordinate attitude toward her superior officers,” and devoted the rest of her life to patriotic and historical organizations and to historical writing and journalism....

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Dean, Vera Micheles (29 March 1903–10 October 1972), international affairs specialist and teacher, was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, the daughter of Alexander Micheles, a Russian of German-Jewish background who immigrated to the United States in 1888 and later returned to Russia as a sales representative for the U.S.-based Gillette Company, and Nadine Kadisch, a translator of English novels into Russian. Growing up in Russia, the Micheles children received private tutoring and became fluent in seven languages. After the 1917 revolution, the family had to move to London for political reasons, and Vera was sent to Boston. There she attended business school, worked briefly as a stenographer, and then enrolled at Radcliffe College. After graduating with distinction in 1925, she earned an M.A. from Yale University. In 1928 she received her Ph.D. from Radcliffe in international law and international relations and became a U.S. citizen....

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Dennett, Mary Coffin Ware (04 April 1872–25 July 1947), birth control and sex education reformer and pacifist, was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, the daughter of George Whitefield, a wool merchant, and Livonia Coffin Ware. When Dennett was ten her father died and the family moved to Boston, where she attended public schools and went on to Miss Capen’s School for Girls in Northampton, Massachusetts. Dennett then studied at the school of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where she displayed a great talent for tapestry and leather design. From 1894 to 1897 she headed the Department of Design and Decoration at the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia. After a trip to Europe with her sister, during which they collected gilded Cordovan leather wall hangings, the sisters opened a handicraft shop in Boston. Dennett helped organize the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts in 1897. She served on the council of the society until 1905, when her interest in politics and social welfare began to supersede her interest in the arts. In 1900 she married William Hartley Dennett, a Boston architect with whom she had two sons. The marriage ended in divorce in 1913 with Dennett receiving custody of their children....

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Anna E. Dickenson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102148).

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Dickinson, Anna Elizabeth (28 October 1842–22 October 1932), orator and lecturer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the youngest child of John Dickinson, a merchant who never recovered from the Panic of 1837, and Mary Edmondson. Devout Quakers, the Dickinsons were active members of the local antislavery society. Dickinson was two when her father died, and her mother kept the family together by teaching school and taking in boarders. Dickinson attended a series of Friends’ educational institutions, but her formal training ended by the time she was fifteen....

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Elliott, Harriet Wiseman (10 July 1884–06 August 1947), educator, political organizer, and government official, was born in Carbondale, Illinois, the daughter of Allan Curtis Elliott, a merchant who extended easy credit to poor coal miners, and Elizabeth Ann White, a staunch supporter of ...

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Follett, Mary Parker (03 September 1868–18 December 1933), theorist of social organization and civic leader, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the daughter of Charles Allen Follett and Elizabeth Curtis Baxter. Follett’s father attempted a variety of jobs and her mother took in boarders before the family finally moved in with Follett’s wealthy maternal grandfather. In 1888 Follett enrolled at the Harvard Annex, the precursor of Radcliffe College, and graduated summa cum laude in 1898. During this ten-year period she also spent a year at Newnham College, Cambridge University, and worked for a few years as a schoolteacher at Mrs. Shaw’s School in Boston. Follett’s perceptiveness as an observer of social and political phenomena was evident even before her college graduation when Longmans, Green published her book ...

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Frazier, Maude (04 April 1881–20 June 1963), educator and state legislator, was born in Sauk County near the town of Baraboo, Wisconsin, the daughter of William Henry Frazier and Mary Emma Presnall, farmers. Frazier began teaching as soon as she graduated from high school, having received a teaching credential through examination. Her determination to attain a higher education led her to attend college over her father’s objections, and she worked her way through the two-year course at the State Teachers College in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. She then accepted a teaching job in a small Wisconsin mining town, where she heard stories about opportunities for teachers in the West. The challenge of new experiences appealed to Frazier, who accepted a position in Nevada....