Founding Foremother Awards

for Women born in the 19th Century

Presentation at American Speech-Language Hearing Association

November 20, 2005

What if ASHA were to create a new category of awards? These would be posthumous ones and only for foremost women in our profession-something like a speech pathology women's hall of fame. Who would deserve such an award? If you were in a position to choose, who would you pick and what criteria would you use?

Let's work with the same criteria that have been used choosing our forefathers. In those few history articles that exist in our field, the forefathers who get mentioned are talked about in terms of what they did and who they knew. What they did involved at least three kinds of activities:

Scholarly contributions (theories, publications-esp a book, research findings, measurement techniques);

Clinical contributions (innovative clinical methods, inventions-like Seashore's audiometer)

Organizational contributions (committee work, holding a national or state office, charter member)

Many awards of ASHA and the few histories written about the profession talk about people who were outstanding in one or more of these three areas: Scholarship, clinical contributions, and organizational contributions.

Criteria based on who they knew are harder to determine. In in the early days of ASHA it often it had to do with whether they were in the network of the faculty at the University of Iowa, or the University of Wisconsin the two institutions that were the first to offer curricula in our profession. This is what has called the old-boy network. You can become important in your profession because you have been invited into the inner circles and are considered worthy by others who are already part of that network and because you were part of network at the University of Iowa or the University of Wisconsin.

Most people who have been around a bit in the profession are familiar with this old boy phenomena. You can become an "old boy" if your faculty sponsor who is part of the network makes you co author of articles, or if he recommends you for an executive office in the professional organization, or if he talks to others about your clinical accomplishments.

But mostly, being part of the old boy network puts you in a place of privilege and increases your chances of becoming well known in the profession and having your work acknowledged and encouraged.

I have created my list of founding foremothers as a committee of one. I was the one who got to pick the foremothers. These are people who qualify according to the four criteria-scholarship, clinical contributions, organizational contributions and who they knew.

I added one more criterion. I picked only women who were born in the 19th century. I considered lots of women who were working in areas that would now be called speech-language pathology. The term speech-language pathology hadn't been invented yet. These pioneers of the profession may have called themselves elocutionists, speech teachers, English professors, speech correctionists. I have come up with ten-not because that is all there were, but because I couldn't cover them all and ten is a nice round number associated with awards-as in top ten.

Listed in the following table are each of the ten and a short description of their contributions classified within the criteria listed above.


Scholarly Contributions

Clinical Contributions

Organizational Contributions

Professional Affiliations

Sarah Barrows

Phonetician—emphasis on work with dialect, a goodly number of publications

Designed and promoted auditory stimulation techniques

Clinic supervisor

Directed speech clinic at Iowa

University of Iowa—one of first faculty members in speech section of psychology department

Margaret Blanton

Books and articles on child guidance and speech disorders

Developed speech tests with Sara Stinchfield Hawk

ASHA charter member

Smiley Blanton

Pauline Camp

Articles about public school practices

Development of speech services in schools

ASHA charter member; Director of state public school programs in  Wisconsin.

Co-authored 1930 White House report (with Travis)

Lee Edward Travis

Myfanwy Chapman

Stuttering handbook—Know yourself 


Program director of speech dept in Minneapolis Public Schools; President CEC;

Bryng Bryngelson

Mabel Gifford

Published many articles, pamphlets and several books on different aspects of speech correction

Stuttering therapy, master clinician

Director of California public school speech programs; charter member of ASHA, VP of ASHA (1931)


Jane Leigh


Stuttering therapy—the “American Method”

Created many stuttering clinics throughout the world

Christopher C. Yates, MD

Mildred McGinnis

Book on the Association Method for childhood aphasia, along with a number of articles on her method

Developed therapies and ran program for children, Central Institute for the Deaf


Frank Kleffner

Max Goldstein

May Kirk Scripture

Prolific writer on different aspects of speech disorders—esp for the journal Laryngology

Clinician at Columbia University Clinic

Did clinical work at the University of Iowa

Clinic director at Columbia University Clinic

Herman Gutzmann,

Edward Wheeler Scripture

Sara Mae Stinchfield-Hawk

Wrote on diagnostic taxonomies of speech disorders; 1st Ph.D. to graduate from speech path program; promoted motokinesthetic method

Promoted moto-kinesthetic method of Edna Hill Young; developed tests and ways of measuring various aspects of speech

ASHA charter member, secretary (1925-1930), president (1939); honors recipient (1953)

University of Iowa (esp Travis)

University of Wisconsin (esp Smiley Blanton)

Edna Hill Young

Books with Sara Stinchfield Hawk on motokinesthetic method

Developed moto-kinesthetic method for children with different speech problems

Set up several private residential practices

Sara Stinchfield Hawk


So, all the above women, in my judgment are qualified for a place in the speech pathology halls of fame. Most are not recognized properly in my judgment. For example their hidden influences on decision-making are often invisible. Charles Van Riper gives us a sense of this in the description of the early meetings of ASHA's founders:

Fortunately, among them we also had some founding mothers -- Mabel Gifford, Pauline Camp, Eudora Estabrook, Sara Stinchfield -- speech teachers who were already offering remedial services in the schools. These women, together with some of us who stuttered (C.S. Bluemel, Sam Robbins, Wendell Johnson, and I) and who had been victimized by the quacks of the day, insisted that treatment should also be emphasized. So in 1934 we became the American Speech Correction Association. This shift in purpose was strongly opposed. Indeed, when I listen to the voices of the past, all I hear are arguments.

Of these women we have been talking about, only Sara Stinchfield Hawk received honors of ASHA. There are also more women who are deserving of a founding foremothers award who have birthdates in the 1800s: Elizabeth Avery, Lou Kennedy, Eliza Thorpe, Jane Dorsey Zimmerman.

And the list would need to grow exponentially if we lifted the age restriction and included women who were born in the early 1900s. I propose that we sing the praises of all of our foremothers and work to make their contributions known to today's professionals.

I'd like to end with a final note of caution. Before we base our sense of history on the contributions of our founding parents, whether they be men or women, we might want to delve deeper into the criteria for assigning such awards. The current criteria contain hidden biases.

The academic criteria exclude those who from other fields who have made contributions to ours. For example, we should include people like Beth Wellman and Dorothea McCarthy who did seminal work in childhood language development.

The clinical contribution criteria have excluded people who have worked in the trenches-the early public school clinicians, for example who were devising materials and methods on their own and promoting the "new" profession to others. This would be our version of a cultural history like the ones being done by today's mainstream historians as indicated in a quote from the November 13th 2005 New York Times Book Review (Gordon Wood, 2005, p. 10)

Most historians today are interested in what they call "the new political history."' They seek to transcend the usual.political maneuvering of elite white males...and.. provide a history that views politics through the lenses of race, gender and popular culture. They explicitly reject any sort of narrative of dead white males.(p. 10)

This sort of history would include people such as Florence Yost who appears on Judith Kuster's website-Voices from the Past, who stuttered and who attended the Bogue School for Stammering. She talks about her experiences at the School and her early years as a person who stutters.

The organization contributions have tended to exclude contributions to organizations other than state associations and ASHA. For example, histories of the profession written by Elaine Paden and Russ Malone have focused only on ASHA. But there were other organizations that we could look at to credit our foreparents. One was an organization, National Society for the Study and Correction of Speech Disorders, that was made up of public school clinicians. This organization already existed thirteen years before ASHA was founded. Who were the female leaders in that group made up mostly of women? We have yet to uncover that history.

And what about the women who were not associated with the elite white male, old-boy network--ones not affiliated with Travis and his friends in Iowa and West and his buddies in Wisconsin? What were they doing? What were their contributions to the profession?

Well, it's obvious we need lots more work in this area and more people doing it!

Judy Duchan, November 20, 2005