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What is Your Perspective?

October 15, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Primary source

If asked to define Women’s Civil Right’s Era, what would you say? My head is instantly flooded by multiple subjects and ideas that are complex and dynamic. What if your assignment was to describe Women’s Civil Right’s Era through the perspective of a particular person. How does one go about this? I’m trying to figure this out for myself, but what I’ve got so far is: what is this persons life philosophy? How did they contribute to their community?

My perspective choice is Lucy Peterson. Her most known and prominent years span 1930 to 1942. During this time she was Superintendent of the Kentucky Female Orphan School. Lucy attended the University of Kentucky where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was also made a member of the Kappa Delta Pi, an honorary fraternity in the field of Education. Her Master’s Degree in High School Administration was received from Columbia University.

My first question to ask is what was her philosophy? In the Master Thesis “ A Study of the Female Orphan School” written by Alberta Luanna Balmer, University of Kentucky 1942, she mentions Lucy’s regard toward character education as her philosophy in her school work. During the years of 1931-1933, Lucy was a member of the Kentucky White House Conference on Child Health and Protection, working with the committee on Character Education. Reports are published in the Bulletin of the Bureau of School Services, College of Education, University of Kentucky.

The next question is how did they contribute to their community? Lucy Peterson served 35 years at the K.F.O.S. Twenty-two as a mathematics teacher, one as Principal, and twelve as Superintendent. In an article upon her retirement, The Lexington Leader (August 20, 1942) said:

“During Miss Peterson’s term of service at Midway, the school activities and plant have been materially expanded. She has contacted and advised with hundreds of girl students. Miss Peterson is a member of the Altrusa Club of Lexington and was instrumental in that club’s contribution of the Altrusa Bridge on the school campus. The club also contributes a scholarship fund which finances a girl through each school year. Under Miss Peterson’s direction, a guidance program has been instituted at the school which has gained national recognition in educational circles.” (page 1).

Since I’ve answered both my questions, what is my definition of Women’s Civil Rights through the perspective of Miss Lucy Peterson? Well, I’ll let her tell you! She writes, in Miss Lucy’s Story: As She Saw It, “With the well planned course of study and grades from seven through four-teen given, a girl receives a wonderful background to help tackle life from any angle”. Even more descriptive, she continues:

“In the class of 1919 there were twenty-four out of twenty-six graduates who went to Versailles for the examinations (teacher certification). After 1900, many fields began to be opened to girls and they ‘gathered their skirts about them, jumped the broom-stick and became emancipated.’ The pendulum swung toward the business course rather than teaching and our students were sought as stenographers and bookkeepers as well as teachers. As the years went by and other fields broadened, courses of study became fuller. In 1943 two years of college were added. Our girls then entered almost every line of work open to them. There are artists, writers, musicians, teachers, secretaries, doctors, engineers, nurses, and all types of business.” (page 4-5).

Balmer, Alberta Luanna. A Study of the Kentucky Female Orphan School. Master Thesis, University of Kentucky, 1942.

Lexington Leader, Lexington, Kentucky, August 20, 1942.

Peterson, Lucy. Miss Lucy’s Story: As She Saw It. K.F.O.S., 1960.

Opportunity and the KY Female Orphan School

October 1, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Primary source, Religious history, Social history

I’m ready to refine my research to people and organizations that are associated with my service learning project. The list is growing. A few off the top are Kentucky Female Orphan School, Midway Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, and Lucy Peterson.

Lucy was a mathematics instructor who went on to be a principal and then superintendent. She was administrative head till 1941. Lucy wrote the schools Alma Mater and in 1960 she wrote a manuscript: “MISS LUCY’S STORY: AS SHE SAW IT.” It was published by the Kentucky Female Orphan School. This publication is not in circulation, so I will be taking a walk over to Midway College‘s Library: Little Memorial Library to take a look.

I am not surprised by the vast amount of material which is online about Dr. L. L. Pinkerton. A medical doctor who abandoned his medical practice to follow his calling as a theologian. He became the minister of Midway Christian Church from 1844-1860. For his time, he was very controversial. He introduced instrumental accompaniment to congressional worship singing. A controversy in itself spanning to present day worship among various churches, for example the Church of Christ holds firm with their acappella form of worship singing. Pinkerton is also a liberal who believed in equality; civil rights and education for women, blacks, and black women. What is thought to be the first “Negro” Christian Church in the United States, gathered for worship at the Kentucky Female Orphan School.

As I process all this information and search for ideas and details to discuss with my group regarding our service learning project mission, my distinct feeling is of opportunity. For who? Women, blacks, black women, minority, the under-privileged and for those willing to make a difference in their life: internal, external, or both. The mission statement at Midway College expounds on this opportunity.

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