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Davis, Louise Farwell (1892-1991) | National Louis University Archives and Special Collections

Name: Davis, Louise Farwell (1892-1991)

Historical Note:

Louise Farwell Davis was on the Faculty of the National Kindergarten and Elementary College/National College of Education from 1928 until ca. 1956.

Davis was born February 20, 1892, in Chicago, Illinois.  Both of her parents were born in Massachusetts in 1852, Arthur Burrage Farwell in Leominster and Floretta Woodbury in Beverly.  Arthur came to Chicago in the late 1860s and for the next 40 years worked in a number of wholesale dry goods establishments:  John V. Farwell & Company, C.M. Henderson & Company, and the Watson-Plummer Company.  One of the organizers of the ”ballot box brigade,” a political reform organization, in 1880 he was named chairman of the Young Men’s Republican Club and a few years later became involved in the Hyde Park Protective Association on Chicago’s South Side.  He subsequently became president of the Chicago Law & Order League.

Arthur and Floretta were married in 1882, and Louise was the fifth of six children in the family (one died during childhood).  She attended Shakespeare School (4600 Greenwood Ave.) and Hyde Park High School in Chicago.  After high school she was for a year Kindergarten Director at Witherspoon College in Buckhorn, Kentucky (1912-13); Kindergarten Director and Camp Fire Girl’s Guardian at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 31st and Bonfield, Chicago (1913-16); and morning Kindergarten Director at a private school at 53rd and Kimbark, Chicago (1916-17), while attending the University of Chicago.  She received a Ph.B. from the University in 1918.

Louise was in Ellensberg, Washington, 1918-20 as a First Grade teacher and Demonstration School instructor at the State Normal School.  She returned to Chicago from 1920 to 1921 as a First Grade teacher at the Francis Parker Practice School of the Chicago Normal College, then spent several months attending the Columbia University Teachers College in New York, New York.  She was again at the Chicago Normal College as a Kindergarten Instructor from September 1921 to February 1925, though she returned to Columbia Teachers College from September 1922 to February 1923.  In 1923 she received an M.A. from Teachers College.

In the summers of 1923 and 1925 she was the Kindergarten Co-Director and assistant to Dr. Bessie Lee Gambrill at Columbia Teachers College, and from February 1925 to June 1927 assistant to Dr. Gambrill at Yale University while pursuing her doctorate, which she completed in the spring of 1928; Farwell acknowledged the assistance of Clara Belle Baker, director of the National Kindergarten and Elementary College’s Children’s School, who provided the “final critical review” of her dissertation.  Farwell was one of the first women to earn a Ph.D. from Yale.

In 1927 Louise Farwell had joined the faculty of the National Kindergarten and Education College (later National College of Education, and today National-Louis University) in Evanston, Illinois, as a member of the Supervision Department.  The following year she was appointed Director of Research, which position she held for many years.  In 1929 she founded the Guidance Center, one of the first diagnostic and remedial clinics in the country for children with learning disabilities.  In 1937 she married Charles F. Davis, who taught History at the National College of Education.

Louise Farwell Davis retired in 1957.  She died in Evanston, Illinois, October 4, 1991.

Note Author: Mark Burnette

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