HERstory: The founding mothers of Johnson & Wales University

2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

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.

Indexing (details)

Mass media;
Education history;
Womens studies
0708: Mass media
0391: Journalism
0520: Education history
0304: Biographies
0453: Womens studies
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Education; Language, literature and linguistics; Documentary video; Founding mothers; Gertrude I. Johnson; Johnson & Wales University; Johnson, Gertrude I.; Mary T. Wales; Rhode Island; Wales, Mary T.
HERstory: The founding mothers of Johnson & Wales University
Gagnon, Marian T.
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 65/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496026401, 0496026402
Williams, M. Willson
Union Institute and University
University location
United States -- Ohio
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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