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Notable Women Ancestors - Educators

LADD, Catherine Stratton
A native of Virginia, Catherine became a well-known writer and educator in South Carolina. After her marriage, she began to write stories, poems, and essays, particularly on art and education. These were published under several different pen names--Minnie Mayflower, Arcturus, Morna, and Alida--in various southern journals. In 1840, after hearing that an unused building that was suitable for a girl's school had become available, she opened the Winnsboro (also spelled Winnsborough) Female Institute at Winnsboro, South Carolina. The Winnsboro Institute was one of the largest and best-known boarding and day schools for young women in South Carolina.

MASON, Ella Barnwell Crow
Ella was the first school Superintendent to be elected by the county board of Ohio County, Kentucky in 1922, and to date has been the only woman superintendent for this school system.

MACURDY, Grace Harriet
Grace Macurdy devoted her life to becoming a true scholar at a time when there were few role models for women. She attended Radcliffe when it was still the "Harvard Annex" for women, taught Greek and Latin for 44 years at Vassar College, and became the first woman classicist to research and write about the lives of ancient women.

PALMER, Amanda "Ardelia" Hardin
Harry Truman's "favorite teacher", Ardelia was one busy woman who began her career teaching Latin and mathmetics in Independence, Missouri and went on to found the Browning Society, serve as the women's field representative for the FHA in western MO, supervisor of the WPA for Jackson County, and after graduation from the U.S. Aircraft Engineering School in Kansas City, became the only woman aircraft instructor in the United States.

RENEAU, Sarah Eola ("Sallie")
Sallie was a crusader for state-supported higher education for women in the South and the founder of Reneau Female Academy, which is now Mississippi College for Women at Columbus, Mississippi. She died of yellow fever while volunteering as a nurse.

The first woman professor at the University of Colorado is known today mostly for the CU outdoor theater named for her. But Mary led a secret life in the late 1800's which is the subject of a new book written by author, Silvia Pettem. While in her mid-30's, Mary had an affair with a student, became pregnant, married him, and had a child, Miriam. The double standard of the Victorian era made it impossible for a married woman to combine work with motherhood, and Mary's marriage and child remained a well-kept secret until 1976 when an elderly man from the East Coast made his way down the steps to the archives and donated two photographs to the university. The man identified himself in an alumni publication as Wilfred Rieder, "a descendant of Mary Rippon."

SIMONDS, Katherine (Kittie) Louise Courtright
Kitty and her sister, Stella, opened their own school in Chicago, The Durant School for Children and Young Women, in 1891. They both had a passion to educate indigent women in birth control and to train them in work that would support themselves and their children. Kitty wrote short stories which were occasionally published by broadsides and church magazines, describing the plight of poor, single mothers who were victims of their husband's alcohol abuse and desertion. She was Executive Secretary of the Woman's Department of the National Civic Federation in Boston and founded the Knox County Day Nursery for women who worked in defense factories.

STIMSON, Mary Estella (Stella) Courtright Davis
For a time, Stella and her sister, Kitty ran their own school for primary through high school aged children. In1894 she took a position teaching Latin at Coates College in Terre Haute, Indiana. She was President of the Florence Crittenton Board in 1912, a National Treasurer of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, a member of the Indiana League of Women Voters, a charter member of the Woman's Press Club Of Indiana in 1913, and the first woman to be elected to the Terre Haute Board of School Trustees.

WHITE, Eliza Matilda Chandler
Eliza, a descendant of Mayflower passenger, Miles Standish, was educated at Monticello Seminary, Godfrey, Illinois and became a teacher. Mrs. White favored the abolition of slavery and strove personally to raise the educational status of the negroes by giving to all whom she could reach lessons in reading. She bravely persisted in her teaching, although at the time, it was a prison offense in Missouri where she and her husband resided. Later, after moving to New York, Eliza was among the first to aid any worthy charity. In 1881 she founded the Brooklyn Home for Consumptives, and, at the time of her death in 1907 the institution owned its own spacious grounds and buildings and was caring for more than 110 men, women, and children.

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