There were remarkable attempts in New York City in the final quarter of the last century to deal with immigration, the poor, and the unskilled. Organizations, settlement houses, educational institutions of all persuasions, and concerned individuals sought to make some gains by working together, exchanging ideas, and initiating small steps. Young women of well-to-do New York families became involved in organizations like the Association of Working Girl Societies, the Kitchen Garden Association, the YWCA, and the Industrial Education Association.
Grace Dodge, as Vice President of the Industrial Education Association, continued to develop her ideas of social improvement through education. The organization gradually assumed the role of communications center for an informal network of schools asylum schools, schools for the poor, and other constituencies.
To build on this work, a step that took less than 10 years, Teachers College was founded as a "purely professional school" in 1887 as the New York College for the Training of Teachers. In a laudatory article in the Cosmopolitan Magazine of 1894, Rosa Belle Holt quoted the founders purpose
To train the teachers, and through them to prepare the children for life; to place in the school-room teachers able to teach those who are soon to be men and women, how to be practical workers in the world, how to be faithful citizens, how to be intelligent parents and home-makers, and how to see and love the beautiful in nature, in art, in good books, and the common things of life.
From the beginning with the Kitchen Garden Association in 1880 until 1914 Grace Hoadley Dodge devoted her life to the betterment of society through teaching and learning. Teachers College, as it was named in 1892, embodied the beliefs that her evangelical religious background, engendered years ago by her forebears, were dutifully to be directed towards the good of society.
This exhibition begins with two modules and features brief introductions and narratives, many images, portraits, architectural details, pertinent documents, and connections to more material on the Internet about Dodge, affording us an opportunity to appreciate the challenge Dodge defined for herself. Her success in establishing Teachers College with a firm foundation permits today a continued and flourishing relationship to the city, state, country, and the world. Teachers College, in this month of inaugurating the public aspect of its capital campaign, will be revealed as an institution tied to its past yet eager to take up the new challenges of today.
Jane P. Franck
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