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Brunoniana

From Martha Mitchell’s Encyclopedia Brunoniana:

King, Lida Shaw

Lida Shaw King (1868-1932), third dean of the Women’s College, was born in Boston on September 15, 1868. She was the daughter of the Reverend Henry Melville King, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Providence from 1891 to 1906, and was descended through her paternal grandmother from John Alden of Plymouth and the Mayflower. She graduated from Vassar College in 1890, and received a master of arts degree from Brown in 1894, the first year that any degrees were awarded to women. She returned to Vassar for more graduate study and taught classical subjects there from 1894 to 1897. In 1897-98 she was a graduate student at Radcliffe College. Between 1898 and 1902 she was at the Packer Collegiate Institute, first as a teacher of ancient languages and later as director of the Department of Latin and Greek. She studied at the American School of Archaeology in Athens as a Bryn Mawr Fellow in 1899 and again as the Agnes Hoppin Memorial Fellow in 1900. She and fellow student Ida Thallon were the first women to excavate on the mainland of Greece, and their work at the Nymph’s Cave at Vari resulted in an article, “Vases, Terra-Cotta Statuettes, Bronzes and Miscellaneous Objects Found in the Cave at Vari,” which appeared in the Journal of the Archaeological Institute in 1903. She was inaugurated as third dean of the Women’s College on October 25, 1905, following the resignation of Anne Crosby Emery. At the same time she was named assistant professor of classical philology. Her title was changed in 1909 to professor of classical literature and archaeology. Her success was such that it was noticed by other institutions. In “Topics of the Month” in the June 1909 Brown Alumni Monthly it was recorded:

“Miss Lida Shaw King (Vassar, ’90), dean of the Women’s College, has gratified the college and the community by declining at least one offer outside of Providence. We are assured from university sources that there is no impropriety in saying (though Miss King has made no statement on this point), that the position of dean of Barnard College, New York, a much more lucrative place, was offered to her, but refused on the ground that there is a great work to be done here in Providence, a work worthy of the best efforts of any intelligent and earnest woman. It shows, on the part of Miss King, a fine faith in the Woman’s College.”
She had considerable success in raising the separate funds of the college from $66,031 in 1905 to $358,971 in 1921. Enrollment increased from 196 in 1905 to 420 in 1922. Two new dormitories, Miller Hall and Metcalf Hall, were added to the campus. The Lida Shaw King Decennial Fund “for the entertainment of guests, and the maintenance of the social and cultural side of college life,” established by the Rhode Island Society for the Collegiate Education of Women had become available in 1919-20. During her absence from the College in 1920-21 former dean Anne Crosby Emery Allinson returned as acting dean. In 1922 Miss King resigned. Reports that she planned to return to Greece to continue her studies concealed the unfortunate illness which continued until her death in Providence on January 10, 1932. Of her resignation in 1922, President Faunce said in his annual report, “She plans to return to Greece to pursue her favorite studies in classical archaeology.” Later, at her memorial service, her successor as dean, Margaret S. Morriss noted that “illness forced her retirement at an age when she should have been still in her prime,” and Albert Davis Mead said, “Those of us who were her colleagues, and who remember with regret, but with understanding, the slow encroachment of the shadow of illness that darkened her later years, are especially glad that we have the remarkable portrait of Dean King ... this portrait recalls her characteristic vivacity, keen intelligence, and aristocratic refinement.”

The above entry appears in Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright 1993 by the Brown University Library. It is used here by permission of the author and the University and may not be copied or further distributed without permission.


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