Bryn Mawr College. Summer School for Women Workers in Industry

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The Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry (1921–1938) was a residential summer school program that brought approximately 100 young working women—mostly factory workers with minimal education—to the Bryn Mawr College campus, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, each year for eight weeks of liberal arts study. As part of the workers' education movement of the 1920s and 30s, the experimental program was unique in several ways. It was the first program of its kind for women in the United States; it was conceived, directed, and largely taught by women; and it was hosted by a women's college.

Originally the brainchild of Bryn Mawr president M. Carey Thomas, the program was funded by philanthropists such as John D. Rockefeller Jr. and taught by distinguished faculty drawn from local institutions. Under the direction of Hilda Worthington Smith it evolved into a successful workers' education program that served as the model for several others. Many of the students, who came from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and worked in a variety of industries, went on to become union leaders. For political reasons, the program fell out of favor with the college board of trustees and was terminated in 1938.

The school is the subject of a 1985 documentary by Suzanne Bauman and Rita Heller, The Women of Summer.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Wylie, Laura Johnson, 1855-1932. Papers, 1890-1961, 1898-1919 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Papers, 1884-1998 (inclusive), 1929-1988 (bulk) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Smith, Hilda Worthington. Affiliated Schools for Workers collection, 1921-1951 (bulk 1921-1940). Rutgers University
referencedIn Guide to the Josephine Colby Papers, 1912-1933 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations (University of Michigan--Wayne State University). Program on Women and Work. Transcripts of oral history project, 1970-1978 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Smith, Hilda Worthington, 1888-. Papers, 1884-1972, 1932-1945 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Guide to the Josephine Colby Papers, 1912-1933 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Van Kleeck, Mary, 1883-1972. Papers, 1849-1998 Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Lockwood, Helen Drusilla, ca. 1891-1971. Helen Drusilla Lockwood papers, 1883-1971. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Miller, Helen Hill, 1899-. Papers, 1917-1977 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Peterson, Esther, 1906-1997. Papers: Series I-IV, 1884-1998 (inclusive), 1929-1998 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Rose Schneiderman Photographs, 1909-1962 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Wylie, Laura Johnson, 1855-1932. Laura Johnson Wylie papers, 1890-1961, 1898-1919 (bulk). Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Amber Arthun Warburton Papers, 1917-1976 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Van Kleeck, Mary, 1883-1972. Papers, 1883-1972 Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Smith, Hilda Worthington, 1888-. Papers, 1837-1975 (inclusive), 1900-1975 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Peterson, Esther, 1906-1997. The reminiscences of Esther Peterson. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Fairchild, Mildred. The Bryn Mawr Summer School For Women Workers in Industry and the workers' education movement : a survey of the years 1928-1958 : a confidential Report to the Board of Directors of the Bryn Mawr Summer School / prepared in The Carola Woerishoffer Graduate Department of Social Economy and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College by Mildred Fairchild and Florence Hemley with the assistance of Sophie Cambria and Edythe Norwick. Bryn Mawr College, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library
referencedIn Wolfson, Theresa, 1897-1972. Series 6. Files on workers' education, 1920-1961. Cornell University Library
referencedIn American Labor Education Service. Records, 1921-1961. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Louise Shanberg Photographs, 1920-1930 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn Jean Scobie Davis papers, 1892-1985 Bryn Mawr College
referencedIn Papers, 1837 (1900-1975) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Aliotto, Marie. Garment workers. California State University, Long Beach
referencedIn Aaron, Maxine L.,. Workers' education records, 1928-1944. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Lockwood, Helen Drusilla, 1891-1971. Papers, 1883-1971, 1908-1971 (bulk) Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Aaron, Maxine L., person
associatedWith American Labor Education Service. corporateBody
associatedWith Colby, Josephine, 1878-1938 person
associatedWith Davis, Jean Scobie, 1892-1985 person
associatedWith Fairchild, Mildred. person
associatedWith Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations (University of Michigan--Wayne State University). Program on Women and Work. corporateBody
associatedWith Lockwood, Helen Drusilla, 1891-1971. person
associatedWith Miller, Helen Hill, 1899- person
associatedWith Peterson, Esther Eggertsen, 1906-1997 person
associatedWith Shanberg, Louise Gugino person
associatedWith Smith, Hilda Worthington person
associatedWith Van Kleeck, Mary, 1883- person
associatedWith Warburton, Amber Arthun, 1898-1976 person
associatedWith Wolfson, Theresa, 1897-1972. person
associatedWith Wylie, Laura Johnson, 1855-1932. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Bryn Mawr PA US
Subject
Trade union movement
Women
Immigrants
Labor
Occupation
Activity
Educating adults

Corporate Body

Establishment 1921

Disestablishment 1938

Female

Americans

English

Information

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