Indiana AAUW
Last Updated March 13, 2002; comments to

Terre Haute Tidbits

The first Indiana woman elected to Congress was from Terre Haute:

Virginia Jenckes (1877-1975) is noted as the first woman from Indiana to serve in the United States Congress. A native of Terre Haute, she began her political career at the age of 55 when she was elected to the House of Representatives. In 1932, Jenckes decided to run as the Democratic candidate when rural issues became a primary concern to her. During the Depression, she supported the repeal of Prohibition and federally-funded flood control, both of which she felt would help farmers economically. Jenckes served in the 73rd, 74th, and 75th Congresses before being defeated for re-election in 1938.

[source: Vigo County Public Library Source, Spring/Summer 1999]

Terre Haute Artists in the Swope Collection

Caroline Peddle Ball (1869-1938): Much work remains to reconstruct the career of Terre Haute native Ball, but we do know that she worked as a designer for Tiffany and Company and that she was a key figure in the studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

Amalia Kuusner Coudert (1863-1932): the most dramatic success story is probably that of Coudert, who lived with her family above her father's music store in the handsome Greek Revival building that still stands across from the Vigo County courthouse. Introduced into New York society by actress and Terre Haute native Alice Fischer, she painted miniature portraits of the leading figures of her age, on both sides of the Atlantic, before marrying well and settling into a comfortable retirement abroad.

Janet Scudder (1869-1940): through sheer talent and force of will, overcame daunting challenges to become a successful sculptor and designer of garden fountains. She took her first drawing lessons at the Rose Polytechnic Institute (now Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology). The poor, plain girl from Terre Haute became an international celebrity who frequented the salon of Gertrude Stein and shuttled between Paris and New York.   The Swope Art Museum first floor was completely renovated during Fall 1999.  When it re-opened on December 3, its entry featured a striking statue of Scudder's  Diana, goddess of the hunt.

Blanche Bruce (1880-1945) [no information provided]

Text from brochure, Rediscovering Roots; Terre Haute Artists in the Swope Collection

Swope Art Museum
25 S. 7th St., Terre Haute IN 47807
(812) 238-1676

Coates College for Women

From 1885 through 1897, a small private college occupied 13 scenic acres on Strawberry Hill of Terre Haute's south side. Its exemplary reputation added to the community's rank as a flourishing education center. Coates College for Women was the vision of Jane Patterson (McBeth) Coates, a resident of Greencastle. In early 1884 Coates enlisted Terre Haute lawyer Bascom E. Rhoads to organize an academy with her $20,000 endowment. In addition to incorporating the school, Rhoads helped her select initial trustees: Charles W. Conn, Sidney B. Davis, William Riley McKeen, Elijah M. Mering, Rev. George R. Pierce, Dr. Josiah T. Scovell, Samuel Cary Stimson, Leslie D. Thomas and Harry P. Townley. Though the college was nondenominational, the by-laws mandated two-thirds of the board to be Presbyterians and the Bible to be "the chief textbook."

To accomodate the school, the trustees purchased the late Judge Samuel B. Gookins' residence on forested terrain between what is now Fourth and Fifth streets and Osborne and Hulman streets for $10,000 on March 17, 1885. They hoped to acquire adjacent ground, including a public garden west of the school maintained by Herman Hulman, during future expansions.

Dr. Laurence G. Hay was chosen first president and professor of philosophy. Dr. M. Stanley Coulter was named professor of physics and mathematics. Professor E.C. Kilbourne, Mary A. Cox, Mary E. Saunders and Emily S. Allen were on the faculty when school started Oct. 6, 1885, with an enrollment of three students: Esther Barth, May Davis and Frances Haberly. Renowned artist T.C. Steele agreed to teach but was not enlisted when no one signed up for his art class. Enrollment gradually increased. Hay resigned in June 1888 and was succeeded by John Mason Duncan, a stimulating educator from Cumberland, MD, who yearned for Coates to be "The Wellesley of the Midwest." Enrollment passed the century mark in 1889-90 and three bachelor's degrees were offered. Janet Scudder, who later achieved prominence as a sculptor, was engaged to teach woodcarving. A Coates College education was portal to any graduate school in the country, including the University of Chicago. Commencements were held at Central Presbyterian Church and later at Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church.

The financial panic of 1893 and a will contest after Mrs. Coates' death on Aug. 22, 1891, are cited as reasons for the college's inability to continue. The sixth annual commencement June 9, 1897, was its last. The alumnae became community leaders; reunions were held regularly into the 1930s. Trustee McKeen bought the property and subdivided it as "College Place."

[source: Wabash Valley Profiles, Terre Haute Tribune Star, 9/23/99]

Teacher of the Year 2000

Terre Haute West Vigo Kindergarten teacher Kathy Politz is Indiana's Teacher of the Year 2000.  Politz will now represent Indiana in national competition next spring in Washington, DC.  She received $1,000 from Indiana Farm Bureau, an Indiana University scholarship and $2,000 stipend to cover one-year tuition and living expenses.  Awards include jewelry from Hofmeister Personal Jewelers and Herff-Jones.  Indiana Department of Education sponsors the state program, along with Indiana Farm Bureau, Farm Bureau Insurance and Scholastic Inc.

[source:  Hoosier Farmer, November/December 1999, p. 21]

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