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Colby, Gertrude Kline (1875?–01 February 1960), dance educator, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her parents’ names and occupations are unknown. While little is known of her childhood, Colby was reportedly interested in physical activities from an early age. She began her higher education with a brief stint at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine (dates unknown). In 1910 she attended Harvard University for the first of four summer sessions led by ...

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Flanagan, Hallie Mae Ferguson (27 August 1890–23 July 1969), theater educator, administrator, and director, was born in Redfield, South Dakota, the daughter of Frederic Miller Ferguson, a businessman, and Louisa Fischer. Throughout her childhood, Hallie’s father encouraged her to believe in her uniqueness and individual potential, while her mother instilled in her a selflessness of putting others before herself. These conflicting ideas would haunt Hallie throughout her life as she tried to balance a career and a family. She sometimes believed she had failed as a wife and mother because she had devoted too much of herself to her career....

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George, Grace (27 December 1874–19 May 1961), actress, director, and translator/adapter, was born Grace Doughtery in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of George Doughtery and Ellen Kinney (occupations unknown). She changed her name to Grace George in 1892 for professional reasons. George attended a convent school in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In 1893 she enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She made her professional debut in 1894 as a schoolgirl in ...

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H’Doubler, Margaret Newell (26 April 1889–26 March 1982), dance educator, was born in Beloit, Kansas, the daughter of Charles Hougen-Doubler, a photographer and inventor, and Sarah Todd. H’Doubler (a shortened form of her father’s Swiss name) grew up in a well-to-do family that could offer her a good education and exposure to classical music and the other arts. In high school in Madison, Wisconsin (where the family resettled in 1903), she participated in sports and took classes in Dalcroze eurythmics, a movement-based approach to music training. She attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 1906 to 1910, graduating with a biology major and a philosophy minor. During her undergraduate years she took part in a variety of physical education activities including sports, particularly basketball and swimming, and dancing based on the ...

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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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Hovey, Henrietta (06 April 1849–16 March 1918), Delsartean teacher, was born Henriette Knapp in Cooperstown, New York, the daughter of Edgar Knapp and Catharine Tyler. Hovey’s lifelong interest in clothing reform is traced to an early experience when a doctor, to combat her frailty and ill-health, prescribed loose-fitting garb that would allow easy breathing and free motion. By her early twenties, Hovey was designing her own unique uncorseted costumes—subtly colored flowing gowns that became her hallmark—and lecturing on the aesthetic and health aspects of dress. To improve her speech for such presentations, she entered the Boston School of Oratory in the early 1870s where she was introduced to the system of expression developed by François Delsarte (1811–1871), a French theorist and teacher of acting, voice, and aesthetics. Delsarte’s theory was an elaborate derivation of his personal interpretation of the Christian Trinity and featured particular attention to the relationship between body, mind, and spirit in the practical work of expression in any of the arts. Hovey’s interests expanded to include physical culture and expression, and she traveled to Paris where she met Delsarte’s widow and studied with his son Gustave before the latter’s death in February 1879. In the late 1860s or 1870s she married Edward B. Crane; their son was born on 21 April, probably in 1878—possibly in 1867....

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Johnson, Osa (14 March 1894–07 January 1953), author, lecturer, and film producer, was born Osa Helen Leighty in Chanute, Kansas, the daughter of William Sherman Leighty, a railroad engineer, and Ruby Isabel Holman. In 1910 she left high school to marry Martin Johnson, whom she had met eleven years earlier when he visited Chanute as an eighteen-year-old itinerant photographer. In the meantime he had visited Europe alone and traveled with ...

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Kellogg, Louise Phelps (12 May 1862–11 July 1942), historian and documentary editor, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the daughter of Amherst Willoughby Kellogg and Mary Isabella Phelps. Her father, active in the Methodist church and in temperance societies, worked for several insurance companies. Educated at Dearborn Seminary and the Milwaukee College (later Milwaukee-Downer College), Kellogg received a B.L. in 1897 from the University of Wisconsin....

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Le Gallienne, Eva (11 January 1899–03 June 1991), actor, director, and translator, was born in London, England, the daughter of Julie Norregaard, a Danish journalist, and Richard Le Gallienne, an English poet. Her parents separated when she was four, and Eva was raised by her mother and schooled in Paris and London. Her feminist mother, who had been influenced by literary critic Georg Brandes and playwright Henrik Ibsen, gave her daughter an aesthetic education and taught her independence. By the time she was seven, Eva knew Paris, London, and Copenhagen and read and spoke French, English, and Danish. After seeing Sarah Bernhardt perform and then meeting her, Eva decided to dedicate her life to the theater....

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Eva Le Gallienne, c. 1916–1920. Photograph by Arnold Genthe. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G432-1293-C).

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Mackay, Constance D’Arcy (1887–21 August 1966), playwright, director, and educator, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the only child of Robert S. Mackay, a realtor, and Anne D'Arcy. Mackay lived with her parents in Minnesota until she was fifteen; she traveled extensively in Europe during her childhood and was educated in both public and private schools. In 1903 Mackay enrolled as a special student (a student that is not working toward a degree or plans to graduate) at Boston University. Mackay's years at the college were productive. Between 1903 and 1905, she penned the first commencement play ever produced at the college, ...

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Mansfield, Portia (19 November 1887–29 January 1979), dance educator, choreographer, and camp director, was born Portia Mansfield Swett in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Edward R. Swett, a hotelkeeper, and Myra Mansfield. She received her early schooling in Winter Park, Florida, where the family moved in 1899, and, after another move, in New York City at Miss Morgan’s School for Girls (1903–1906). As a child, she danced for her own pleasure and, occasionally, for hotel guests. Entering Smith College in 1906, she majored in philosophy and psychology but also was exposed to the Delsarte System of Expression and gravitated toward the physical education department. She was instrumental in organizing a dancing class at Smith. Classmates remembered her clouds of red hair, her lissomeness and grace, and her vivacity....

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Margaret Mead. Gelatin silver print, c. 1928-29, by Unidentified Artist. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Virginia Yans-McLaughlin

Mead, Margaret (16 December 1901–15 November 1978), anthropologist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Edward Sherwood Mead, a University of Pennsylvania economist, and Emily Fogg, a sociologist and social reformer. Mead’s unconventional education provided her with the tools and social attitudes that governed her later career. Before high school, her paternal grandmother, Martha Ramsey Mead, a schoolteacher well versed in progressive educational theory of the day, and her mother, a social scientist, directed her education at home. Young Margaret’s education included collecting data for observation and recording; anything from the structure of leaves to the language patterns and personality differences of her younger siblings could be noted as data. Before Margaret Mead reached her teens, she accompanied her mother on field trips to Hammonton, New Jersey, where Emily Mead was engaged in sociological research among Italian immigrants. The mother—a feminist, suffragist, leader in the cooperative household movement, and staunch opponent of nativist and racist attitudes—made it a point to expose her child to other ethnic groups and to instill in her awareness of and respect for human equality and differences. Margaret Mead’s M.A. thesis in psychology, in which she argued that linguistic and cultural differences explained lower intelligence-test scores of Italian immigrant children, grew from these early training experiences with her mother....

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Morgan, Anna (24 February 1851–27 August 1936), speech and drama teacher, was born in Fleming, New York, the daughter of Allen Denison Morgan, a gentleman farmer, and Mary Jane Thornton. After the death of her father in 1876, Anna moved with her family to Chicago, where she studied elocution at the Hershey School of Music. She soon earned a local reputation as a dramatic reader with a naturalistic approach that contrasted with the current fashion of more stilted and stylized speech. Her repertoire included selections from plays by Shakespeare, Schiller, and Maurice Maeterlinck, and poetry by authors that ranged from Robert Browning to ...

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Primus, Pearl (29 November 1919–29 October 1994), dance pioneer, anthropologist, and choreographer, was born in Trinidad, the daughter of Edward Primus and Emily Jackson, and migrated with her family to New York City when she was two years old. She majored in biology and pre-medicine at Hunter College of the City University of New York and graduated in 1940. Seeking support for graduate studies, she solicited help from the National Youth Administration (NYA). Under the auspices of the NYA she was enrolled in a dance group, subsequently auditioned for the New Dance Group in New York, and earned a scholarship with that institution....

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Pearl Primus. Lithograph on paper, c. 1969, by Marion Greenwood. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Robert Plate.