HERstory: The founding mothers of Johnson &amp; Wales University
“HERstory: The Founding Mothers of Johnson & Wales University” is a 30-minute broadcast-ready documentary that has captured and preserved the history of two women, Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales, who founded a business school for women in 1914 in Providence, Rhode Island. With one typewriter and one student, they built the foundation and established the mission for what is now an internationally recognized career university with more than 15,000 students and multiple campuses throughout the United States. This documentary gives “voice” to Gertrude and Mary, who had been rendered mute and historically invisible following their retirement in 1947. Since that date, a male hierarchy has led the institution, and while it does not appear to be deliberate, there has been little or no credit given to the contributions of the founding mothers. Due to the dearth of memorabilia and archival material kept by the institution, this project relied heavily on the narrative retellings of the few living students of Miss Johnson and Miss Wales. These students attended the school in the 1930s and early 1940s, and are nearing the end of their lives. If not for this documentary, and with the imminent passing of these individuals, the Johnson & Wales legacy would have been lost forever. A synthesis of historical, narrative, feminist, and anecdotal research has brought the Johnson & Wales story to life, documenting Gertrude's and Mary's own life choices, their modest but significant contributions to the women's movement, and their trailblazing within the institution of higher education itself. Accompanying this documentary is a Contextual Essay that examines the scholarly context for this video project. This essay includes a discussion of feminist theory and personal narratives, as well as the approach, style, form, and structure of the documentary.
0520: Education history
0453: Womens studies