Reinhardt, Aurelia Henry, 1877-1948

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President, Mills College.

From the description of Aurelia Henry Reinhardt letters, 1917-1929. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122552878

Biographical Note

Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, educator and social activist, was born in San Francisco in1877. Her career began in California and she never strayed far from her native soil nor lost what many came to refer to as her characteristic Western qualities: energy, expansiveness, and an intrepid vision worthy of her role as a latter-day pioneer.

Growing up in the boom and bust economy of Southern California in the early 1890s, Aurelia Henry was not always to experience economic security, but her mother, a self-respecting resolute woman of pioneer stock, provided the family with psychological and cultural continuity. William Warner Henry, her father, ran a succession of wholesale grocery stores and the family was often down on their luck. Mary Merritt, however, was able to attract boarders who would support the family through hard times and keep her children busy with music lessons and speech lessons, all equally important concerns.

Aurelia Henry became one of the few girls at "Boy's High" in San Francisco, went on to graduate from the University of California at Berkeley (1898) and then became one of a handful of women to attend graduate school at Yale University. Applying her study in English at Yale, Aurelia Henry taught at Lewiston State Normal School in Idaho from 1903 to 1908, taking one year off to revise her dissertation for publication and to travel abroad as a recipient of an Association of Collegiate Alumnae Fellowship.

At the age of thirty-two, Aurelia Henry married George Frederick Reinhardt, the son of old family friends of the Henrys', and who like Aurelia, had made his way quite successfully in the world. His work as founder and Director of the University of California Health Service and as a health officer in the community evidenced the beginning of an illustrious career. The marriage ended abruptly after four and a half years with the death of George Reinhardt. Aurelia Reinhardt was left with two young sons to support. Within two years, in 1916, after a highly successful period of work as lecturer in English in the University of California Extension Division, Aurelia Reinhardt was elected President of Mills College.

As President of Mills College, Reinhardt found a task worthy of here formidable personality. She immersed herself immediately and completely in her work. She thrived in her new-found challenge and with a vision of a western women's college equal to the best of the women's collages in the east. She enlisted numerous patrons, benefactors, and dedicated faculty in the work of Mills College. The College expanded physically and intellectually, weathering along with its President the depression and two world wars. By the time of Aurelia Reinhardt's retirement in 1943, the College in character and spirit reflected Aurelia's own persona: liberal, progressive, and vigorous.

In addition to the execution of her duties as President of Mills, Aurelia Reinhardt distinguished herself in her activities apart from Mills. She combined her educational and internationalist concerns in her work with the American Association of University Women. She was elected Vice President of the American Association in 1921 and acceded to the Presidency in 1923. In 1927, she turned over her title to Mary E. Woolley, President of Mount Holyoke, leaving a revived and stabilized national organization. Reinhardt continued her work with the A.A.U.W. into the thirties, chairing the Committee on International Relations (1927-1933). Reinhardt's interest in educational organizations was also reflected in here involvement in the American Council on Education, the National Education Association, the Institute of International Education, and her work on the local boards of education in her own community.

Another important outlet for Reinhardt's interest in international relations was her work with peace organizations and committees of international cooperation and understanding. Quite a bit of her time and energy was devoted to speaking and general organizational work with the League of Nations Non-Partisan Association, National Council for the Prevention of War, Conference on the Cause and Cure of War, the League to Enforce Peace, National Committee on Japanese Relations, the Near East Relief Organization, and the Institute of Pacific Relations, American Council Division, of which she was a trustee. Reinhardt supported such overseas ventures as the Punahou School in Hawaii, the California College in China, and Kobe College in Japan.

Reinhardt's dedication to the cause of peace determined her political allegiances in many cases. She broke with the Republican Party to support Woodrow Wilson after World War I when his dedication to the League of Nations coincided with her own. However, subsequently, Reinhardt supported the Republican ticket, locally and nationally. She campaigned for her friend Herbert Hoover from the early twenties through his decisive defeat in 1932, serving as a Republican state elector in 1928. Reinhardt publicly defended Anita Whitney, a renowned radical, when Whitney was arrested during the Red Scare following World War I. Reinhardt also campaigned vehemently for a more humane policy toward Japanese-Americans during World War II.

Comfortable as well in the less controversial world of women's clubs and organizations, Reinhardt chaired the Department of Education of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (1928-1930) and was state chairman of literature for the California Federation of Women's Clubs. She lectured frequently for other women's groups such as the League of Women Voters, various business and professional women's clubs, the Association of Bank Women, National League of Women's Service, Camp Fire Girls, and the Young Women's Christian Association.

Reinhardt was involved with local issues also. She chaired the City Planning Commission of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce in 1919, served in an advisory capacity in the election for Oakland School Superintendent and spent countless hours in meetings of the Alameda County Institutions Commission, determining policy for count hospitals and sanitariums. She also belonged to the East Bay Regional Park Board. Two California concerns of hers were the Indian Defense Association of California and the Save the Redwoods League.

Toward the end of her career, Reinhardt had accumulated many honors. She was the first woman moderator of the American Unitarian Association (1940-1942) and she received honorary degrees from the University of California (1919), the University of Southern California (1924), Colorado College (1931), Williams (1937), Mt. Holyoke (1937), and Oberlin (1937). Reinhardt died in 1948 and in 1949 the Reinhardt house at Mills College was built and named in her honor.

From the guide to the Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Papers, 1877-1948, (Mills College. Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Parr, Fred D. The Temple of Religion and Tower of Peace scrapbook, Golden Gate International Exposition, 1938-1939. Graduate Theological Union, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library
referencedIn Emma (Moffat) McLaughlin Papers, 1927- 1967 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Henry Meade Bland Papers, ca. 1905-1931 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Anderson family Papers, 1848-1963 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. Papers: Series I-IV, 1851-1958 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Burdette, Clara Bradley, 1855-1954. Papers of Clara Bradley Burdette, 1843-1954. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Laidlaw, Harriet Burton, 1873-1949. Papers, 1851-1958 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Nicholas Roosevelt Papers, 1846-1962 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Papers, 1877-1948 Mills College. Library
referencedIn Coolidge, Dane, 1873-1940. Typed letter signed Dane Coolidge to: Hugh Fullerton August 17, 1925. Wellesley College
referencedIn Anderson family. Anderson family papers, 1848-1963. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Stackpole, Ralph, 1885-1973. Ralph Stackpole papers, ca. 1920-1980. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn William Frederic Badè papers, 1871-1936 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Reinhardt, Aurelia Henry, 1877-1948. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt letters, 1917-1929. Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anderson family family
associatedWith Anderson family. family
correspondedWith Badè, William Frederic, 1871-1936 person
correspondedWith Bland, Henry Meade, 1863-1931 person
associatedWith Burdette, Clara Bradley, 1855-1954. person
associatedWith Coolidge, Dane, 1873-1940. person
associatedWith Harriet Wright (Burton) Laidlaw, 1873-1949 person
associatedWith Laidlaw, H. B. (Harriet Burton), b. 1874. person
correspondedWith McLaughlin, Emma Moffat, 1880-1968 person
associatedWith Morgan, Julia, 1872-1957. person
associatedWith Parr, Fred D. person
associatedWith Roosevelt, Nicholas, 1893-1982 person
associatedWith Stackpole, Ralph, 1885-1973. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Women architects


Birth 1877

Death 1948



Ark ID: w6ff5hk2

SNAC ID: 70394934