Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Georgia Laura White, 1872-?
By Hannah Babcock undergraduate student
Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Georgia Laura White was born on April 28, 1872 in Nashville, MI to George Leonard White (of Cadiz, NY) and Laura Amelia (Cravath) White (of Homer, NY). She attended Normal School in Fredonia, NY and graduated from Lake Erie Seminary School in Painesville, OH. She then went on to study at Cornell University, where she first received her Ph.B. in 1896, and then went on to receive her Ph.D. in 1901. Her thesis was entitled: "The Part Taken by Women in the Charity Work in Prussia." Her graduate work at Cornell was in political science, sociology, and European History. Additionally, before earning her Ph.D. at Cornell, she studied at Halle-Wittenberg University in Germany from 1899-1900, where she was a member of Alpha Phi.
From 1896-1898, Georgia Laura White taught history and English at a high school in New Castle, IN. She then became the head teacher and teacher of history at Walnut Lane School in Germantown, PA. Shortly after, she worked as an instructor and associate professor (from 1903-1905) of economics and sociology at Smith College of Northampton, MA. In 1905, she became the dean of women at Olivet College in Olivet, MI. President Lancaster of Olivet College said about Georgia Laura White: "No one has come to Olivet since I have known the college, whose coming has promised so much good as does that of Dr. White." Later, she served as the Dean of Home Economics at Michigan Agricultural College, beginning in September 1913 and resuming in spring 1914 after a leave of absence.
As Dean of Home Economics at the college, she worked to improve living accommodations and increase the number of opportunities women would have to develop skills in domestic science that they could employ after graduating from the college. One of her goals was to relate the work of domestic science at the college to the work of all women's organizations, as well as the individual woman living in town or in the field, in order to achieve a unified and standardized method of food conservation. Additionally, in a program within her department, seniors were able to live together in a "practice house" in order to gain practical experience in domestic science. Georgia Laura White also advocated for a new residence hall at the college to provide dormitory living. Then, once this was achieved, she sought to separate dorm and social life at the college by adding a Home Economics building for classwork. Additionally, she stressed the importance of the addition of the Guest Room in the Women's Division, a room that made it possible to entertain college guests and offer hospitality to visitors.
Georgia Laura White was known for favoring women's suffrage. She served as a member of a number of social organizations, including the American Academy of Politics and Social Science, American Sociological Association, American Association for Labor Legislation, Elector of College Settlements Association, and the Association of Collegiate Alumnae. In 1901 she wrotel "Some Phases of the Social Work of Women in the North German States". In 1920, she delivered the commencement speech at Western Reserve University.
American Academy of Political and Social Science. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. N.p.: A.L. Hummel, 1901. Google Books. 18 Nov. 2009. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Beal, William James. History of the Michigan agricultural college and biographical sketches of trustees and professors. East Lansing: Michigan Agricultural College, 1915. Google Books. 11 Dec. 2013. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Leonard, John W. Woman's Who's who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915. N.p.: American commonwealth Company, 1914.
McKeen Cattell, James, ed. School and Society. Vol. 11. N.p.: Society for the Advancement of Education, 1920. Google Books. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Michigan State Board of Agriculture. Annual Report of the Secretary of the State Board of of Agriculture of the State of Michigan and Thirtieth Annual Report of the Experiment Station. Robert Smith Print, 1917. Google Books. 17 May 2012. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.
Michigan State University. Annual Report of the Experiment Station. Agriculture Experiment Station, 1915. Google Books. 13 Aug. 2010. Web. 4 Mar. 2017.