Woman of the Century/Clara Conway
CONWAY, Miss Clara, educator, is a native and resident of Memphis, Tenn. She began her educational career as a public-school teacher. Her study of educational methods inspired her with the desire to establish a system of education for girls which should be based on absolute thoroughness. Her idea was and is that women should be so taught that, if conditions make self-support necessary, they can fill professional careers. She was the first woman in Tennessee to assist in the organization of teachers' institutes, and she was the first southern woman to attend the teachers' summer-school in the North. At the first session of the Martha's Vineyard Summer Institute she was the only representative of the South. At the meeting of the National Educational Association in Madison, Wis., 18th July, 1884, she read a paper on the needs of southern women. In 1886 she read a paper in the Saratoga convention, and in 1887 she was elected a member of the National Council during the San Francisco convention, although she was not present. She took a prominent part in the meeting of the Southern Association at Lookout Mountain in 1891, and in the meeting of the National Council in Toronto, Canada, in the same year. Her connection with the famous school that bears her name dates from 1878, when she originated the work with fifty pupils, one assistant and $300 of burrowed money. The growth of the school was remarkable. In 1884 Miss Conway's pupils numbered 250, and it became apparent that permanent accommodations must be provided. A few public-spirited citizens, impressed with the determination of the woman, who had fought such heavy odds, formed a stock company, incorporated the school and had a building erected. It was Miss Conway's proposition that it be called the Margaret Fuller school, but the trustees decided promptly that it should be named in honor of its founder, the Clara Conway Institute. The institute in 1891 had three-hundred pupils, a senior class of thirty, school property valued at f 75.000, a strong faculty, nine of whom, former pupils, have been trained for special departments in the best schools of this country and of Europe, while its graduates are filling many useful positions in life.