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Mary S. Calderone Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Calderone, Mary S. (01 July 1904–24 October 1998), physician and educator, was born Mary Steichen in New York City to Edward Steichen, a photographer, and Clara Smith Steichen. While Mary and her younger sister were growing up, living in both New York and France, their father emerged as one of the most acclaimed photographers in the world, and Mary Steichen later said that her father's ability to portray “human life and the human condition” made a deep impression on her at an early age. Her parents separated when she was ten, and Mary went to live with her father; she remained alienated from her mother for many decades, not restoring their relationship until Mary herself was in her sixties....

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East, Catherine (15 May 1916–17 Aug. 1996), civil servant and feminist activist, was born Catherine Shipe in Barboursville, West Virginia, the eldest surviving child of Bertha Woody, a former schoolteacher, and Ulysses Grant Shipe, a bank president and construction engineer. (The Shipes’s first child, a boy, died of spinal meningitis before Catherine was born.) She had two younger siblings. The family was moderately well off before the Depression and employed a housekeeper. Her maternal grandmother also lived with them, and she attributed her first feminist leanings to the influence of her mother and grandmother....

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Potter, Ellen Culver (05 August 1871–09 February 1958), physician, public health administrator, and welfare reformer, was born in New London, Connecticut, the daughter of Thomas Wells Potter, a grocer, and Ellen Culver. Her interest in medicine began in childhood, although as an adolescent she studied art and was interested in social work. After graduating from high school, she studied art in Boston and attended the Art Students League of New York City from 1893 to 1894. Potter worked in the settlement-house movement at the Morning Star Mission in New York City’s Chinatown in 1895–1896 and organized a settlement in Norwich, Connecticut, between 1895 and 1897. She then left to study art and music in Europe (1898–1899)....

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Switzer, Mary Elizabeth (16 February 1900–16 October 1971), administrator and leader in rehabilitation, was born in Upper Newton Falls, Massachusetts, the daughter of Julius Switzer, a machinist and motorman for the Stanley Steamer Company, and Margaret Moore. Her mother died of tuberculosis in 1911, and Julius Switzer left Boston with his son, relinquishing his two daughters to the care of his wife’s family. “Uncle Mike” Moore exposed his niece to the revolutionary forces of the time, including her in his trips to the Gaelic League and to socialist rallies. Switzer entered Newton Classical High School at fourteen and won a scholarship to Radcliffe College. Elizabeth Brandeis, a Radcliffe friend who directed the District of Columbia Minimum Wage Board, led Switzer to Washington and her first job after her 1921 graduation....

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Winston, Ellen Black (15 August 1903–19 June 1984), public welfare administrator, was born in Bryson City, North Carolina, the daughter of Stanley Warren Black, a lawyer, and Marianna Fischer, who was trained as a schoolteacher. Ellen’s parents were leaders in the small mountain community. Her father was president of the bank and chairman of the county school board. Her mother organized a local parent-teacher association and a women’s club, and she founded the public library that bears her name....