By Kelsey Fair, undergraduate, Saint Anselm College
Harriet Larned Hunt was born to William E. Hunt and Nettie R. Hunt in Fargo, North Dakota, in the 1890s. Hunt was one of three children: brother William Edgar was about four years her senior and sister Catharine Elizabeth was about eight years her junior. Little is known about Hunt’s childhood except for her injury in a tragic train accident in September 1901. According to an article in The Saint Paul Globe, while traveling with her father, Hunt “had her face caught between the gates of a street car,” severely damaging her hearing and eyesight. William brought a lawsuit against the St. Paul City Railway Company seeking restitution for her injuries and won, receiving $7,000 from the St. Paul City Railway Company.
Hunt completed her secondary education in Fargo, then attended the University of Wisconsin from 1909-1911, and Smith College, from which she graduated in 1913. In 1914, Hunt accepted a position as a high school Latin and history teacher in Moorhead, Minnesota. While in Moorhead, Hunt was a member of the Fargo Round Table Club, a club focused on connecting women in Moorhead and providing them with a forum to meet and discuss past, current, and future topics, especially in the liberal arts. Hunt was also a member of the University of Wisconsin chapter of Gamma Phi Beta, a Greek sorority whose mission is “to support and inspire the lifelong development of girls.”
Hunt returned to the University of Wisconsin in April 1916 to study for her master’s degree in history, but returned to Fargo after one semester. In 1917, Hunt moved to Catonsville, Maryland, a Baltimore suburb, to teach at St. Timothy’s School for Girls, but it is unclear how long she stayed in this position. During World War I, Hunt volunteered as an overseas worker for the Y.W.C.A., serving in the canteen areas. When she returned to the States, Hunt moved closer to the Washington, D.C. area, as she accepted a position as secretary for the Children’s Bureau’s 1918-1919 Children’s Year campaign. Spearheaded by Bureau Chief Julia Lathrop, the campaign focused primarily on improving children’s overall health through education, social programs, and other health initiatives. Hunt’s role as secretary was often to plan and organize meetings for educating mothers about hygiene, nutrition, and exercise for their children. The program was popular among citizens and was widely praised for its positive results.
In August 1918, Hunt participated in a National Woman's Party protest led by Mrs. Lawrence Lewis of Pennsylvania, an effort decrying “President Wilson’s delay in securing the passage of the federal suffrage amendment through the Senate.” Representing North Dakota, Hunt carried one of the protest banners in the demonstration at Lafayette Square, across from the White House.
Records of Hunt’s suffrage activities abruptly halt after 1918. Her obituary indicates that she taught at Katharine Branson School in Ross, California, and from school records, it can be inferred that she taught between 1920 and 1924. In 1924, Hunt joined the staff of the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey. She served as headmistress for over thirty years, during which time she sponsored several dances, which were scholarship fundraisers for the school. Hunt was an avid traveler, often traveling to Europe during the summer between school sessions. Hunt was an active participant in several Smith College alumni clubs, including the Smith College Dessert Bridge and the Summit (NJ) Smith Club, often donating the Kent Place School facilities for the clubs’ meetings. Hunt also held membership and leadership roles in the Headmistresses’ Association of the East and the National Association of Principals of Schools for Girls.
After leaving the Kent Place School, Hunt lived with her younger sister, Catharine, in Chatham, Massachusetts. Hunt died on October 4, 1960 at New England Baptist Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She never married.
The first record of Harriet Hunt, including her birth year, parental information, and place of birth, can be found in the 1910 U.S. Census, at Ancestry.com. Hunt’s l residences from 1910 to 1940 was also found via Census records on Ancestry.com. All articles listed below were found digitized on Newspapers.com. Articles concerning Hunt’s train accident and William Hunt’s lawsuit can be found in the following editions and newspapers: The Saint Paul Globe, June 14, 1902; Minneapolis Journal, June 5, 1903; Bismarck Tribune, June 9, 1903. Records of Hunt’s attendance at Smith College can be found in the 1913 Smith Class Book, pp. 34, 95, online at https://ia800306.us.archive.org/24/items/class1913smit/class1913smit.pdf. An announcement of Hunt’s teaching position in Moorhead, can be found in the Bismarck Tribune, Sept. 12, 1914. Hunt’s involvement in the Fargo Round Table can be found in the Bismarck Tribune, Jan. 12, 1915, and information on the Fargo Round Table can be found in the North Dakota State University Library records of the Club, https://library.ndsu.edu/repository/bitstream/handle/10365/314/Mss0170.pdf. Hunt’s membership in Gamma Phi Beta and her studies for her master’s degree are recorded in the April 15, 1916 edition of The Crescent, "Gamma - University of Wisconsin - Personals." The Crescent of Gamma Phi Beta 14.1 (1914): 231-32. Web. Hunt’s activities as secretary of the Children’s Year campaign are found in various 1918 editions of The Washington Herald, specifically, June 24, July 5, July 31, and August 5. More information about the Children’s Year campaign can be found in an article by Dr. Anna Rude, republished online from the American Journal of Public Health, Anna E. Rude, “The Children’s Year Campaign.” American Journal of Public Health, 9.5 (1919): 346–51. Hunt’s suffrage activities are found in the August 10, 1918 edition of The Suffragist. Hunt’s involvement in World War I is recorded in The Quarterly Journal of the University of North Dakota 10.1 (1919): 27-28. Web. Limited information about the Katharine Branson School is available at http://www.branson.org/domain/21. Hunt’s scholarship fundraiser dance for the Kent Place School is publicized in The Chatham Press, March 15, 1920. For Hunt’s travels, see The Chatham Press, March 15, 1920 as well as travel records on Ancestry.com: New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Hunt’s participation in the Summit Smith Club and the Dessert Club is noted in The Chatham Press, Jan. 17, 1941 and April 27, 195.1. Hunt’s obituary, notes her various teaching positions in Maryland and California, organizational roles, and date of death. See "HARRIET HUNT, LED KENT PLACE SCHOOL" New York Times Oct. 5, 1960. Web. Smith College holds archives of the Headmistresses’ Association of the East, indexed on the Smith College Archives’ website, http://asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/sophiasmith/mnsss136_list.html.