Skip to main content

Wright, Grace : Home

Written by Heather Dent

Grace Wright

Grace Wright (right) sits with a friend. (RG 9)

 

Grace Wright (c1884 - June 1969) served as the Dean of Women for the Berea Foundation School from 1920 through 1950.

Biography


Early Life, Education and Career

Grace Wright was born and raised on a farm in Croton, Ohio. She attended Dennison University from 1902 to 1906, earning her B.A. and Ph.D. She also took several classes at the University of Chicago, University of California, and Wooster College in sociology and literature.

From approximately 1915 to 1920, she taught students attending Lake County schools in Ohio. She taught in the department of history and civics at Perry High School and Willoughby High School. In January 1921, she came to Berea where she began teaching at the Foundation School, the elementary unit of the Berea College program. At first she taught everything from history, geography, algebra, English, and social science. Her work at the Foundation School impressed Thomas A. Edwards, Dean of Berea College, and moved him to appoint her as the school’s Dean of Women in 1927 (Farr).

Her Work as the Dean of Women

Miss Wright served as the Dean of Women for the Foundation School from 1929 until her retirement in 1950, after 29 years of service to Berea. As the Dean of Women at Berea, Wright acted as an authority figure over students from all parts of the Appalachian region. She primarily dealt with young women coming from remote regions wh

Grace Wright (standing, right) with her students. (RG 9)

ere opportunities for quality education were scarce. For many, Wright provided the friendly counsel and guidance necessary for them to succeed at Berea.

Wright made herself available and approachable to the Foundation School students. She closely associated with no less than thousands of students during her 29 year period of service as dean. During her last year, there were over 200 girls in her care. During her service as Dean she lived in the Talcott Dormitory for Foundation women. Former Foundation students recalled chatting informally with her as she sat in her rocking chair in front of the dorm. She made a remarkable effort to keep in touch with former Foundation School graduates and students. During World War II, she faithfully wrote personal letters to all of the Foundation students engaged in military service. She prepared and sent out newsletters to each of them on a regular basis. Even after retirement she continued to send newsletters and personal letters to her students, and she returned to the campus at intervals to keep her mailing list up to date (Walters).

 
Legacy

 


In the summer of 1968, Wright was a guest of honor at the Foundation School Homecoming held on the Berea Campus. Her portrait was hung in the Hutchins library at that time. A few months before her death, the Croton United Methodist Church honored her with “Grace Wright Day,” on which occasion many tributes were paid to her for her long years of service. Several Bereans paid a special visit, traveling across states to Croton to participate in the “Grace Wright Day” program.

In June 1969, Wright passed away in a nursing home located in her hometown of Croton, Ohio. After her passing, the Croton United Methodist Church established a fund in her honor to help needy Berea College students.

Works Cited

Farr, Sidney Saylor. “Letter to May Wickert.” March 2, 1981.

Walters, Roy N. “Tribute to Miss Grace Wright Foundation School 1921-1950.” June 26, 1969.

Additional Resources

  • Berea College Vertical Files, Special Collections and Archives.
  • RG 9B – Faculty & Staff, Biographical Files, Folder: "Wright, Grace," Berea College Archives.
  • Walters, Roy N. Historical Summary of the Foundation School, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky. Berea, KY: Berea College, 1974.

Related Guides by Subject