Mary Jean Simpson
First female Bill Clerk of the United States Senate. Served on a variety of committees, such as the Works Progress Administration. Was the University of Vermont's Dean of Women from 1937-1955.
Date of Birth1888
Date of Death1977
Mary Jean Simpson was born in East Craftsbury, Vermont and attended Craftsbury Academy, Wheaton Seminary in Massachusetts, and St. Johnsbury Academy from which she graduated in 1908. She went on to the University of Vermont, but transferred to Mount Holyoke College, which she left after her sophomore year when she returned to UVM. In 1913 she graduated with a PhD and turned to teaching. From 1913-1916 she taught at People's Academy in Morrisville, was head of the History Department at Montpelier High School from 1916-1918, and became the Principal of People's Academy from 1918-1920. In 1921 she moved to New York City to pursue graduate work at Columbia University. While there, she did some substitute teaching and started a Fresh Air program that arranged for New York City children to visit Craftsbury during the summer.
Simpson returned to Craftsbury in 1924 and decided to run for the Vermont State Legislature. She was elected and served on the Fish and Game and Military Committees, but requested a transfer to the Education Committee. She worked to tighten a 1921 billboard law, which made her the first Vermont woman to submit a bill. After her one term, she moved to Washington, D.C. to become Bill Clerk in the Office of the Secretary of the United States Senate, and became the first woman to ever be selected for this position.
Simpson came back to Vermont in 1933 and was the head of Women's Work in the Civil Works Administration and was the Executive Director of the professional programs of the Vermont Emergency Relief Administration. In 1935 she directed the Women's and Professional Division of the Vermont Works Progress Administration and the Vermont's Civilian Conservation Corps.
She agreed in 1937 to become the third Dean of Women at the University of Vermont. She stayed in that position until 1955 and, while at UVM, she helped set up the school's first infirmary and recruit the woman who started the university's first nursing program. A dormitory at UVM now carries Simpson's name, and she was presented with a Distinguished Service Award in 1961. At graduation every year, UVM presents the Mary Jean Simpson award to a senior woman who best exemplifies some of the former dean's qualities of character, leadership, and scholarship. After retirement, Simpson made her home in East Craftsbury and remained active in state and civic affairs until her death in 1977.
Organizations or Movements
- Vermont Fish and Game Committee
- Vermont Military Committee
- Vermont Education Committee
- Professional Women's Club of Washington, D.C.
- Women's Division of the Civil Works Administration
- Craftsbury Academy board
- East Craftsbury's John Woodruff Simpson Library
- Goddard College
- State Commission on Alcohol Education
- Vermont Rural Rehabilitation Commission
- Vermont Council on Church Women
- Vermont CCC
- Republican State Committee
- Presbyterian Church
- Mary Jean Simpson Scholarship Fund
- President of Alpha of Vermont
- Teacher: People's Academy in Morrisville, VT (1913-1916), Montpelier High School (1916-1918), New York City
- Principal at People's Academy (1918-1920)
- Vermont state legislature (1924)
- Bill clerk of the United States Senate (1926-1933)
- Financial Secretary of the YCWA
- Head of the Vermont Women's Division of the Civil Works Administration and the WPA
- Executive Director of the professional programs of the Vermont Emergency Relief Administration
- University of Vermont's Dean of Women (1937-1955)
- Craftsbury Academy
- St. Johnsbury Academy
- Wheaton Seminary
- Mount Holyoke College
- Ph.B. University of Vermont (1913)
- Columbia University (1921-24)