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Women in the Early Years of the Berry Schools

Biographical and research information about Berry's early legacy of women faculty, students, benefactors and others

Alice Logan Wingo

Alice Logan Wingo was born in South Carolina in 1869 and studied for two years at Converse College before receiving A.B. and A.M. degrees from Erskine College in Due West, SC. She was appointed dean of women & Professor of English at Drury College, Springfield, Missouri, in 1907, serving there until 1914, when she became became general secretary of the Atlanta YWCA. She began teaching at the Berry School in 1918, teaching English at the Boys School, and by 1921 was Dean of the Girls School. In a 1918 letter to Martha Berry from the Nacooche Institute in Sautee, Georgia, Wingo inquires about the possibility of bringing her mother with her to Berry and mentions doing review work in English at Agnes Scott College.

Wingo took an active interest in women's roles in public affairs, in 1923 arranging a speaking contest at the school "in order to stimulate interest in the new thought of woman as a citizen & awaken the girls to the duties & responsibilities that accompany the privileges of the ballot." Monetary prizes were contributed by Eléonore Raoul Greene, former chair of the Fulton and DeKalb County branches of the Equal Suffrage Party of Georgia and organizer of the Georgia League of Women Voters. In 1928 Wingo offered to pay Martha Berry's membership dues if she would become a member of the Georgia League of Women Voters (Berry joined and paid her own $1 dues).

In June 1928, in an early mention of her life-long struggle with debilitating arthritis, Wingo thanks Berry for writing to "Dr. Goldwaithe" for her*, but protests that the care will exhaust her savings and she does not want to find herself stranded in Boston. A week later she writes excitedly that she is off for a three-week stay at Corey Hill Hospital.

Wingo retired from Berry in 1944 and died on August 4, 1945, at the Scott sanitarium in Upson County, after a prolonged illness.


*Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joel E. Goldthwait and colleagues opened Corey Hill Hospital in Boston in 1903.

Elizabeth H. Brewster

Elizabeth Brewster was the first teacher at the Boys Industrial School. In her article "Uplifting Backwoods Boys in Georgia," in The World's Work (1904) Martha Berry describes Brewster's arrival: "My friend, Miss Elizabeth Brewster, a graduate of Leland Stanford University, now offered to give me her services in the furtherance of my work, and shortly after the school was in progress at Mt. Alto, we opened still another twenty miles away, at Forster's Bend ... in January 1902, I deeded a plot of eighty-three acres of ground near Rome, Georgia, and erected a two-story building at the cost of $1,000 and, with the assistance of Miss Brewster, opened an industrial school for the boys of the surrounding rural districts."  

Soon after the schools opened in 1902, Berry and architect John Gibbs Barnwell drew up plans for a rustic log cabin which was to serve as a guest house and a social center/demonstration cottage, intended, as Elizabeth Brewster later put it, to demonstrate to the highlanders that "a home may be simple and inexpensive and at the same time in good taste and even beautiful." Martha Berry and Elizabeth Brewster moved into the Cabin in 1903. 

By this time, according to an Atlanta Constitution article, the Boys Industrial School was a "unique success" with five teachers - Albert S. McClain, Bothwell Graham, Jr., Minnie Morten, Ella Allen, and Elizabeth Brewster, described as "a woman of rare culture and high intellectual attainment." 

Brewster left Berry in 1920, but returned at Martha Berry's insistence in 1928. "We do need you so much at Berry. I need you and it would give me new courage and strength just to know that you were here with your beautiful spirit and influence," Berry wrote to Brewster at Nacoochee Institute in Sautee, Georgia. "I have to come and go so much and have so many things on my mind that I cannot write in a letter just what I should like to say but I do hope you will read between the lines and know that we need you."

A brief Atlanta Constitution article about her death states that "Miss Brewster left the schools in 1920 and went to Honolulu for a while, before retiring to her old home in California." Brewster died in San Jose, California, on July 22, 1941, at the age of 75.