Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Woman Lecturers


Nancy H. Adsit 1825 ~
Mrs. Adsit was born in Palerma, New York, May 21, 1825. She was the first woman to enter the insurance field in this country, and, as far as is known, in the world. She was possessed of an unusual combination in a woman, great literary ability and excellent business sense. At the age of thirteen she assumed charge of her own affairs and her future education. Some of her early writings aroused great antagonism, and her identity was withheld by her editor and not until many years later did she acknowledge their authorship. On the death of her husband, Charles Davenport Adsit, of Buffalo, in 1873, Mrs. Adsit assumed entire charge of his business and general insurance agency. After a most successful career in this line, she sold the business and resumed her writing. She contributed to the London Art Journals, writing a most interesting series of articles for them on "The Black and White in Art" or "Etching and Engraving."' This brought demands from her friends for lectures, or parlor talks, on art, and she began the course of classes for study. For many years she has delivered these lectures in the principal cities of the United States and her name is prominently connected with art education both in this country and abroad.

Louisa Dow Benton 1831 ~
Mrs. Benton was born in Portland, Maine, March 23, 1831, and is the daughter of Neal Dow, and Cornelia Durant Maynard. On December 12, 1860, she married Jacob Benton, of Lancaster, New Hampshire, who was later a member of Congress, and they spent four years of their life in Washington, D. C. She became a confirmed invalid from rheumatism, being unable to walk, and lost almost the entire use of her hands, but possessed such fortitude and courage that even this did not prevent her from study, and she learned to read Italian, Spanish, German, Greek, and Russian without any instruction. Then she took up Volapük, and is well-known as a Volapük scholar. Has carried on correspondence with several linguists in Europe and associations for the spreading of this language.

Louise Bethune 1856 1913
Mrs. Bethune was born in Waterloo, New York, in 1856. Her mother's family came to Massachusetts in 1640. Her father's ancestors were Huguenot refugees. In 1874 Miss Blanchard graduated from the Buffalo High School, and her attention having been attracted to the study of architecture, she soon took this up seriously. She traveled and studied and taught for two years, before taking the architectural course in Cornell University. In 1876 the offer of a position as draftsman made her relinquish her intention of college study, as she found a most valuable library in her employer's office which was at her service. In 1881 she was able to open her own office and thus became the first woman architect in the United States. The partnership formed with Robert A. Bethune resulted in her marriage to him, and they have continued their work together, having erected many public buildings in Buffalo and other cities. She is a member of the Western Association of Architects, and is the only woman member of the American Institute of Architects. In 1886 she organized the Buffalo Society of Architects, out of which has grown the Western New York Association. She and her husband were very active in securing the passage of the Architects' Licensing Bill, which was intended to enforce a rigid preliminary examination and to place the profession on a higher plane. Since Mrs. Bethune entered this profession as its woman pioneer, there have been several others who have taken it up and gained distinction.

Emily Mulkin Bishop 1858 ~ 1916
Mrs. Bishop was born in Forestville, New York, November 3, 1858. After leaving school she taught, as many others have done, before starting on her professional career. In 1884 she became the wife of Coleman A. Bishop, editor of Judge, and later they went to Black Hills, South Dakota, to live. She was made superintendent of the public schools at Rapid City, South Dakota, the first woman to be so honored in that territory. She had made the study of Delsarte a specialty and became a lecturer on that subject and was invited to establish a Delsarte department in the Chautauqua assemblage of New York, which she has made a great success. Out of this has grown the demand for her to lecture on this subject before the public. She has published a book, "American Delsarte Culture," and is today recognized as one of the noted editors and authors on this subject in the United States.

Frances Benjamin Johnston 1864 ~ 1952
Miss Johnston has made a reputation for herself in photography and photographic illustrations, particularly of public places and men and women prominent in official and social life of Washington; has done work for the railroads in illustrating folders of scenery in the West and Northwest. Born at Grafton, West Virginia, January 15, 1864; daughter of Anderson D. and Frances Benjamin Johnston; studied in Paris at the Julien Academy; also charter member of the Washington, D. C. Art Students' League; exhibited at the Chicago World's Fair, Paris Exposition, Pan-American Exposition, St. Louis Exposition; received gold medal at the Paris Exposition in 1900; was decorated by the French Academy in 1904; is a member of the Photo Club of Paris, New York Camera Club and the Washing-ton Camera Club.

Elizabeth Shelby Kinkead
Was born in Fayette County, Kentucky. Daughter of Judge William B. and Elizabeth De La Fontaine Shelby Kinkead. Lecturer before the Chautauqua Assemblies, and on literature before the State College of Kentucky, and author of "The History of Kentucky."

Minerva Parker Nichols 1863 ~ 1949
Was born May 14, 1863, in Chicago, is a descendant of John Doane who landed in Plymouth, in 1630, and took an active part in the government of the colony. Seth A. Doane, the grandfather of Mrs. Nichols was an architect and went to Chicago when it was an outpost and trading settlement among the Indians. Her father, John W. Doane, died in Murfreesborough, Tennessee, during the Civil War, being a member of an Illinois Volunteer Regiment. Being obliged to support herself, she gave her time to the cultivation of her talent for architecture, which she had inherited from her grandfather. She studied modeling under John Boyle, and finally entered an architect's office as draftsman. Later she built the Woman's New Century Club, in Philadelphia. Besides her practical work in designing houses, she has delivered in the School of Design, in Philadelphia, a course of lectures on Historic Ornament and Classic Architecture. Among some of her important commissions was one for the designing of the International Club House, known as the Queen Isabella Pavilion, at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, in 1893. She was among the first women to enter the field of architecture and some of the homes in the suburbs of Philadelphia attest to her ability and talent in this line. In December, 1899, she married Rev. William J. Nichols, a Unitarian clergyman.

Janet Elizabeth Richards
Is a lecturer on current topics. Born at Granville, Ohio; is the daughter of William and Helen Ralston Richards. Her mother was a cousin of Judge Salmon P. Chase. Was educated at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Torresdale, Pennsylvania. Was a writer on the Washington Post; and in 1895, she organized classes on current topics to which she lectures every Monday morning in Washington, D. C, also has large classes in New York, Philadelphia, Richmond and other cities. She lectures also on travel and literature. Her class in Washington is composed of the wives of the officials and social leaders. She is an able, gifted woman who has taken a conspicuous part in the literary life and field of the Capital city, and in the patriotic societies, being a charter member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, one of the members of the Women's League, National Geographic Society, and Audubon Society. She was at The Hague during the Peace Conference in 1907. Contributor to the magazines, and an active member of the Christ Child Society.

Mrs. E. H. Stevens
Mrs. E. H. Stevens was born in Louisiana. Her maiden name was Herbert. For some years she was librarian of the Agriculture Department, of Washington. She is the widow of a graduate of West Point. For many years she occupied the position of translator at the desk known as "Scientific Translations" in the Patent Office. During her occupancy of the different positions she has held under the government, she has frequently contributed to the press.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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