One of the most ignored innovators of educational psychology, Leta Stetter Hollingworth has immensely
impacted our knowledge pertaining to children with exceptionalities.
Leta Hollingworth was born on May 25, 1886 in Dawes County Nebraska to Margaret Elinor Danley and John George Stetter (Silverman, 1992). Being the oldest of three sisters, Hollingworth’s mother died after giving birth to her.
Leta Hollingworth was born was born May 25, 1886 in Dawes County, Nebraska and died November 27, 1939.
Leta lived no ordinary childhood. She faced many hardships after her mother’s death; one being the disappearance of her father, leaving his children with their mothers parents. Hollingworth grew up on her grandparent’s farm until her father returned ten years later to reclaim his daughters. Leta’s father, now re-married to a woman named Fanny Berling, forced his children to live with their soon to be stepmother in Valentine, Nebraska. Berling was both verbally and physically abusive towards her stepchildren due to alcoholism being common amongst her family (Silverman, 1992). At the young age of 15, Leta graduated Valentine high school where she escaped and started a new life at the University of Nebraska.
In 1906, Hollingworth received her Bachelor of Arts degree and became certified as a teacher in Nebraska. While attending the University of Nebraska, Hollingworth met her soon to be future husband, Harry L. Hollingworth. They got married and moved to New York City in December 31, 1908 (Silverman, 1992). She had no luck in finding a job in New York due to the fact that no schools were interested in hiring a married woman. She became frustrated and depressed after being out of work. A financial burden was placed upon their family due to their low incomes. Being denied employment, Leta pursued a graduate career at Columbia University where she was unable to receive a scholarship or a fellowship position due to her gender. A new study arose at the Columbia pertaining to the harmful effects of caffeine found in Coca-Cola products. Harry hired Leta as his research assistant and received a generous stipend which paid for her graduate program (Silverman, 1992). Leta’s strong will allowed her to prevail against the sexist treatment presented amongst woman in society. Leta’s hard work was recognized by the Civil service in New York City where she was presented in 1914 with the first psychologist position.
In 1915 Hollingworth received her Master’s Degree and a position as a consulting psychologist at Bellevue Hospital (Silverman, 1992). While working at the hospital, she earned her Ph.D. from Columbia University under the guidance of Edward Thorndike. At this point in her life, she had published a total of nine articles and a book. She took on the position as an instructor of Educational Psychology at Columbia University where she continued for the rest of her career. In 1916, Hollingworth became extremely fascinated with...