Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Miss Matilda Spence

As published in the Alumni Record, Painesville High School, Painesville, Ohio
Compiled and Published by the Painesville High School Alumni Association in 1925

Transcribed by Linda Jeffery, November 2004.

Miss Matilda Spence, ’10

Upon graduation from Painesville High School Miss Spence entered Western Reserve University. After two years of study she decided to specialize in social welfare work and entered the New York School of Philanthropy from which she graduated in 1914.

In connection with her social work she was active at Hiram House and Goodrich House of Cleveland and later became a resident at College Settlement and Greenwich House of New York.

Upon completion of her studies she became Exhibit Director for the New York Child Welfare Committee and later was appointed Director of Health Exhibits for the National Child Welfare Association.

She took an active part in suffrage activities both in Ohio and New York State and led the Ohio State Suffrage Parade in 1913. Returning to New York she became interested in the new movement for women in the financial world and in 1915 she entered the women’s Department of Bonbright and Company of Wall Street as its second member.

In 1917 Miss Spence was sent to France by the American Red Cross and was appointed delegate at Toulouse in charge of American relief work for French refugees. Her second year was spent at Verdun as District Manager of the American relief work among French civilians where she held the rank of Major, the only woman to hold that rank. She was decorated by the French Government and the City of Toulouse and awarded three medals by the French Red Cross for her work. Upon her return to the United States in 1919 she became the National Organizer for the Serbian Relief Committee for which she crossed the United States twice.

Upon completion of this work Miss Spence was appointed Organization Director for “America’s Making,” an Americanization movement under the New York State Department of Education uniting thirty-two racial groups of Americans. She later became General Director of the movement which held an Exposition in New York under her direction.

As a result of this work she was asked by the Baltic Republics to organize and direct a publicity work in their interests to be carried on through the Baltic American Society of which she was Executive Director.

In September, 1923, she was sent abroad to make special studies of political conditions in the Baltic Republics and Central Europe. She returned in the summer of 1924 after eight months travel visiting some ten countries.

Some of her articles have appeared in the New York Times and Current History as many of the alumni who are readers of these publications have observed.

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Last updated 11 Nov 2004

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© 2004 Cynthia Turk. All rights reserved.