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  • Ann D. Watson

Dingman Women were Teachers

Mary Agnes Dingman

Mary Dingman's father died when she was thirty-five years old. Time enough for him to impress upon her the value of humanitarian service and hard work. James Dingman (1848–1905) was a country doctor who plied his trade among the people of Rockland County, New York, driving or riding his horse about the county to make house calls. Dr. Dingman place a high priority on helping people, regardless of whether the family could pay for his services.[1]

Mary Agnes Dingman

Dr. James Alva Dingman

Mary Agnes Dingman (1875–1961) was the eldest of ten children. Not for her was alife as a "housewife." Mary attended Northfield Seminary in Massachusetts, and earned her teaching certificate in 1899 from the New Paltz (New York) Normal School. She then went on to Teachers College, Columbia University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1910. She taught elementary school in Spring Valley and Brooklyn, New York, then history and economics at Dana Hall girls' school from 1910–1914. From there she left teaching and began to work for the World YWCA. [2]

YWCA poster

During World War I, the YWCA's job was "to meet the special needs of women and girls affected by the war." Mary Dingman worked with pacifist organizations and created educational programs and in France, "Foyers des Allees" for women factory workers, where they could experience good food, socializing, and recreation. [3] Mary traveled to more than forty countries. She represented the Peace and Disarmament Committee of the Women's International Organizations and as its head, represented this organization at the World Disarmament Conference in 1932. She lectured widely on disarmament and worked to establish the United Nations. [4]

Mary's sister Helen was also a teacher, at Berea College in Kentucky. Mary Dingman was not my direct ancestor but was the eldest sister of my grandfather, Norman McLeod Dingman. The teaching tradition continued down the generations: Norman Dingman's daughter (Mary's niece) Alan Beverage Dingman was a college teacher of English literature, and another of his daughters, Eudoxa Ann, was a school librarian. I myself received a Master of Education degree from the University of Vermont and was a school librarian for many years. My sister Clyde also taught both school and violin.



1. Penny Messinger, "Restoring the Woman Reformer: Helen Hastie Dingman and "Mountain Work," 1916–1950, Appalachian Journal 37 (Spring/Summer 2010), 242; image copy, JSTOR ( : accessed 1 September 2018).

2. Caryn Hannan, New Jersey Biographical Dictionary: 2008–2009 Edition, v.1 A–K (Hamburg, Michigan: State History Publications, LLC, 2008), 174–175; image copy, Google Books ( : accessed 1 September 2018).

3. "YWCA of the U.S.A. Records, Record Group 6, Program," Subseries A. World War I; Five College Archives & Manuscript Collections ( : accessed 1 September 2018), path Sophia Smith Collection > YWCA of the U.S.A. Records. Record Group 6. Program: Series VII> War Work and Defense Services > View Entire Finding Aid.

4.Wikipedia, "Mary Dingman," rev. 00:40, 24 March 2018.

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