Capt Thomas Munson > Samuel Munson > Samuel James Munson > William Munson > Peter Munson > Lydia Munson > William Zelus Bristol > Emily Cowles Bristol > Edith Minerva Brace
Born 29 Dec 1867 in Lockport, Niagara County, New York, youngest child Edith was a smart cookie.
She attended University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where brother DeWitt was on faculty. She studied biology with an emphasis on botany and zoology, her true passions. I believe there was a good chance, since her mother was living with DeWitt prior to his marriage, that she also resided with them in Lincoln, though I have no source to prove that at this time. She received her bachelor of science degree, then attended the University of Chicago, where she recieved her master of science degree in biology.
|Rochester Free |
Women weren't open to attending University of Rochester prior to 1900, but at least 12 did, including Edith. Those individuals attended classes with men, but could not receive credit for their classes.
Her first noted teaching gig was beginning in late 1899 at the Rochester Free Academy, which was a secondary high school in Rochester, New York. While there she also stayed involved in the science research world, and was the editorial assistant for neurology for the Journal of Applied Microscopy and Laboratory Methods from 1899.
It's not known when she left Rochester, but in 1904, she was teaching as a professor at Western Maryland University. During the summer of 1904, she participate in a summer program in zoology for the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science teaching zoology.
In 1908, she began teaching at the secondary level in Brooklyn. Sorting through the various transfers was quite a project, but here's how it broke down so far.
|Eastern District HS, Flatbush; Morris HS, South Bronx; Erasmus Hall HS, Flatbush|
As I get access to more records, I hope to fill in the blanks for Edith's job history and housing history. Her obituary mentions she worked at Morris High School in the South Bronx between Eastern District and Erasmus Hall high schools, but the only reference I have to her teaching at Morris HS is in 1922, when in the 2nd semester, she was transferred from Morris to Eastern District. We do know she was at Erasmus Hall, teaching biology, from 1924 through her retirement in 1939.
|School and Home History|
|Some of Edith's residences|
Edith wasn't all work. She also vacationed! In a 1915 article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, titled "Notables at Easthampton," it's mentioned that Edith was spending time at The Osborne House in Long Island. During the middle half of the century, the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania was a hot spot for vacations - honeymooing, skiing, camping, swimming, fishing and more. In the 1940s, Edith visited several times. Buck Hill Inn was built in 1901 on 1,000 acres. The resort, one of the premier resorts in the Poconos, had horseback riding, golf, and tennis. The Inn had a downturn in business in the 1960s and 1970s and closed forever in 1990 and was finally demolished after several failed starts at renovation, starting in 2016.
|Buck Hill Inn Entrance, Dining Room, and Olympic-sized pool|
World War I and Loyalty Oaths
Summarizing the issue in the most compact way possible, before our entry into World War I against "The Hun," (Germans), a trend swept across the nation to bolster support for us entering the war that required people in government, education, and other industries to sign "Loyalty Oaths," which basically said they agreed with the US involvement in the war and would not do anything to hinder or subvert our policies or efforts around the war.
Now, many people took issue with signing such an oath. Many people lost their jobs for failing to do so and it became basically a witch hunt to punish those who would not sign. That included the Quakers, conscientious objectors, and others who did not agree with the war. Teachers in New York who failed to sign were put in front of what to me sounds like a tribunal and forced to state their case. They were nearly all fired or transferred to less desirable schools. Some would later be rehired, but many were not.
The mob mentality of a large group of teachers against those who refused to sign formed committees and organizations to vilify those who wouldn't toe the line. One group even supported having those who didn't sign interred, as we would later do with the Japanese during World War II.
Our brave Edith made headlines over the course of several days despite the fact she signed the loyalty oath. She refused to sign the next document proferred, which opposed settling for a "negotiated peace." Below is one of the articles that best explains the situation (click the article at the bottom to enlarge). They published her home address and her salary!
It does not appear as any significant fallout befell Edith for this defiance, but many, many educators fell victim to this rabid "patriotism" from 1917-1919.
One More Fight
In 1915, Edith, along with 200 other NYC teachers, marched on Albany around two different Senate proposed bills.
The Cromwell Bill or Senate Bill 1414, which would put the responsibility for determining the number and pay of teachers, under the Board of Estimate and Apportionment and the Alderman of the city. The NYC Controller was in favor of the move and stated he would not only recommend no raises, but would recommend reducing salaries. The bill was almost universally opposed by teachers. Imagine.
The second bill, known as the Boylen-Kelly Pension bill was supported by the NYC Interborough Association of Women Teachers.
Neither bill seems to have been passed and were left to die in committee.
Alice retired from teaching in February of 1939. She lived the remainder of her days in Brooklyn. At the age of 86 she became ill and was hospitalized in Brooklyn Hospital, where she died on 10 Nov 1954. Her only living relatives were nieces and nephews.