Bertha McGhee Goes to College

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This is Women’s History Month, so I’ll profile the women from our family tree. here My mother’s aunt, Bertha McGhee, born in 1903, went to college in an era when that was uncommon for a woman. She graduated from Baker University with a BS in 1929.

Bertha McGhee in 1924 - Independence High School.  She's the standing girl with the sailor dress.

Bertha McGhee in 1924 – Independence High School. She’s the standing girl with the sailor dress.

The flu epidemic of 1918 interrupted her high school years. She was finally able to complete her secondary education by 1924. In the fall of that year, she entered Baker University.

The back of the photo says "arriving in Baldwin, 1st time" She worked for her room at Miss Bennet's place. I think Bertha is the young woman with a pole behind her.

The back of the photo says “arriving in Baldwin, 1st time”
She worked for her room at Miss Bennet’s place.
I think Bertha is the young woman with a pole behind her.

 

I looked for a photo of the train station and found that they currently run excursion trains from Baldwin. The station dates back to 1906.

After attending Baker, she took a job in Farmington, New Mexico at the Navajo Indian Industrial School. It had been her dream for many years to help the native Americans. You can see her photos of 1929 and 1930 on this page: Navajo School – Farmington, NM.

Indian girls doing beadwork at the Navajo School in Farmington, NM. Photo by Bertha McGhee.

Indian girls doing beadwork at the Navajo School in Farmington, NM. Photo by Bertha McGhee.

In 1939, Bertha returns to college, but this time in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. She is 37years old and living in Fisk Hall. The school is the Kansas City National Training School for Deaconesses and Missionaries.

She is the oldest of the students in Fisk Hall, with the youngest being just 20. Also staying at Fisk are the Dean of Women, the registrar, some teachers, a secretary, a deaconess, a dietitian, an assistant dietitian, a housekeeper, an office assistant and a librarian.

I’ll list the residents of Fisk Hall, in case anyone is looking for them. I’d love to find photos from her time there. Maybe someone has some group photos and Bertha would be in them.

The census lists Dagny B Gustafson, Ruth E. Decker, B. Eureath White, Dale Clarissa Kuler, Mary F. Smith, Martha M. Hanson, Grace Hutchinson, Aletta M. Garretson, Louise E. Dutcher, Ellen E. Smith, Elizabeth Hartman, Grace A. Vause, Minnie Pike, Pearle W. Tibbetts, Mary Blasckko, Bertha Cowles, Hazel May Gilmore, Anna Altmanna, Anna R. Barman, Nettie M. Judd, and Marion C. Cannady.

The students were Eletha M. Rogers, Laura E. Byers, Ruth Gish, Esther Beaman, Eunice Stockton and Reva I. McNabb. I look at the names and wonder which ones might have befriended Bertha.

After completing the program in Kansas City, Bertha moved to Seward, Alaska for her work at the Jesse Lee Home and lived there until her retirement.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Bertha McGhee Goes to College

  1. Your quest to bring us history is absolutely fascinating. Did Bertha marry? Did her career stop her from doing so, since a career and marriage may have been considered mutually exclusive?

    Like

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