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Flora White

In the Vanguard of Gender Equity

Linda C. Morice

Flora White: In the Vanguard of Gender Equity draws on a collection of personal papers (only recently made available to scholars) to present the life of a colorful New England educator who lived from the Civil War to the Cold War. Throughout her career, White worked to promote the physical and intellectual growth of girls and young women beyond the narrow gender stereotypes of the day. Although White’s name is not a household word, this book represents a newer form of biography in which the life of a lesser-known individual serves as a lens for understanding larger social and cultural developments.

In Flora White’s case, this newer biographical approach produced findings to inform research in both educational history and gender studies. For example, White’s papers correct some longstanding misconceptions about the origins of the progressive education movement and the role women played in it. White’s sources also shed light on the complicated relationships of educated (but marginalized) U.S. women and the prominent men who mentored them. In addition, White’s papers show that--in order to protect herself from those who might find her words objectionable—she used coded language (such as poetry) to counter sexist stereotypes and advance her desire for a fuller life for her students and herself. Although, upon her death, a newspaper obituary praised White for being recognized by “men of note” in educational circles, her efforts to promote the physical and intellectual development of girls and women helped to create opportunity that is still unfolding today.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 228Size: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-4238-8 • Hardback • October 2016 • $85.00 • (£54.95)
978-1-4985-4239-5 • eBook • October 2016 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
Linda C. Morice is professor emerita of educational leadership at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Chapter 1: A Good Name
Chapter 2: Nature Weeps
Chapter 3: Finding Her Voice
Chapter 4: The New Education
Chapter 5: Visionary Women
Chapter 6: A Redeemer
Chapter 7: Doing "Precisely As One Pleases"
Chapter 8: The Best of Her Generation
Flora White: In the Vanguard of Gender Equity is an absorbing approach to education history, wrapped in a biographical narrative that illuminates a slice of American history stretching from seventeenth-century Massachusetts to the Oklahoma Dust Bowl. Linda C. Morice’s account of Flora White’s quest to attain 'more life, and fuller' will offer some an engaging introduction to women’s social agency during the Progressive Era, and others new pockets of evidence and lines of thought regarding women’s educational leadership during that period. Readers will surely appreciate Morice’s literary stewardship of the precious resources that preserved access to White’s amazing life story for contemporary audiences.
Karen Graves, Professor of Education, Denison University

Linda C. Morice has rendered a richly telling biography of Flora White, a little-known though fascinating and multi-faceted educational leader during the Progressive Era. By exploring the ongoing interplay between White's relentless agency and the ever-present strictures on gender throughout her long life, Morice offers a portrait as much about this uniquely powerful woman as about the social and cultural complexities of her time.
Jackie M. Blount, Ohio State University

In Flora White: In the Vanguard of Gender Equity, Linda C. Morice uses biography to ‘reveal human agency’ though the story of Flora White. It is a story of struggle for voice and identity, punctuated by challenges to class, race, and gender norms of the day. Morice captures Flora White’s life as a form of lived experience shaped by pride, poverty, personal loss, and the love for education as a means for social and political change. It is also a journey for self-awareness, identity, and place for the author as she shares with the reader the advantages and difficulties of writing about a family member. Morice makes a valuable contribution documenting the significant impact of Flora White to American education and progressive education.
Sam F. Stack, West Virginia University