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M. Carey Thomas

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Martha Carey Thomas
A black and white photograph featuring a woman wearing an old-fashioned dress and with hair drawn back into a bun.
Thomas circa 1900
2nd President of Bryn Mawr College
In office
Preceded by James Evans Rhoads
Succeeded by Marion Edwards Park
Personal details
Born (1857-01-02)January 2, 1857
Baltimore, Maryland
Died December 2, 1935(1935-12-02) (aged 78)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Education Sage College
Known for Educator, suffragist

Martha Carey Thomas (January 2, 1857 – December 2, 1935) was an American educator, suffragist, linguist. She was the second president of Bryn Mawr College.

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  • How to Learn Faster with the Feynman Technique (Example Included)
  • The Most Powerful Way to Remember What You Study
  • Study Less Study Smart: A 6-Minute Summary of Marty Lobdell's Lecture - College Info Geek


There's this pretty well known quote that gets thrown around a lot and it's often attributed to Albert Einstein and it goes, Now whether or not Einstein was the person who actually said this, let's be real he probably wasn't, it's still really insightful and reversing it reveals a pretty powerful piece of study advice. Now this idea is something I touched on briefly back in my video summary of the Study Less, Study Smart lecture by Doctor Marty Lubdell, because in that lecture he talked about one of the effective study techniques being to teach what you're learning to someone else. So in this video, I want to dig deeper into that idea and share with you a step-by-step process for doing this, which has been called the Feynman Technique. Now this technique is named after the physicist who was, in his own right, a great scientist. In fact, back in 1965, he won a Nobel Prize for his work in quantum electrodynamics, which is something I had to practice saying a couple of different times, and he contributed to science in a number of different ways, including in the development of what are called Feynman diagrams, which are basically graphical representations of the math behind how subatomic particles work. But in addition to being a great scientist, he was also a great teacher and a great explainer. And in fact, one of his nicknames was "The Great Explainer," because he was able to boil down incredibly complex concepts and put them in simple language that other people could understand. And that's why he's one of those great scientists who is also known as a very good teacher. And in fact, even in his own learning, Feynman was famous for tirelessly working through equations until the concept he was wrangling with was intuitively easy to understand, in his mind. So that's why this technique is named after him, but you don't have to be a physicists or you don't have to be working on math or science problems to use this technique, because explaining a concept works to improve your understanding of that concept in basically an area, be it history or be it math, or be it web development. It doesn't matter, and it also works for multiple different purposes. If you're shaky on a concept and you want to quickly improve your understanding, you can use it. But if you already have a pretty confident grasp of a subject, and say you've got a test coming up soon, you can also use it to test your understanding and challenge your assumptions. As Feynman himself said, The ultimate way to ensure that you actually understand all the little nitty-gritty details of a concept in head is to explain it to someone else, or at least to pretend you're doing so. And that is the crux of the Feynman technique. So, let's get into it. It's a process of four steps and the first step is to simply get out a piece of paper and write the name of the technique down at the top. And in the example I filmed here, we're gonna use the Pythagorean Theorem because it is simple and it won't get in the way of the actual steps we're going to go through. Step two is to explain the concept and to do it in simple, plain English, or French, or really whatever language you happen to speak. But the idea here is to do it in a way that's easy to understand as if you were teaching someone else. And don't just settle with defining the concept either. Also work through examples and make sure you're able to use the concept in practice, as well. For step three, identify any of the areas that you're shaky on after your explanation or identify areas that you got stuck on that halted your explanation and go back to the source material or go back to your notes or work through examples until your understanding of these subareas is just as solid as all the other areas. And finally, step four is to look at your explanation and try to identify any areas where you've resorted to using technical terms of convoluted language and then challenge yourself to break down those terms and explain them in simplified, easy to understand words. Remember, the key here is simplicity. The act of explaining a topic as if you were teaching it to somebody who didn't have the same base assumptions and base knowledge that you have is the ultimate test of your own knowledge in that subject. And that's pretty much it, that's all there is to the Feynman technique. Now using this tecnhique is incredibly helpful because it, number one, helps you to quickly overview the concept and see where your knowledge is solid, but number two, it helps you to instantly pinpoint the areas where you're shaky and where you need to do extra work. And that makes this technique a great first step in reviewing a concept because it's very efficient and it helps you waste less time. I did want to give you guys one extra suggestion though, and it relates to how you frame your mind going into step four. Instead of just thinking how can I make this simple, how can I put it in plain English, also think, how would I explain this to a kid? Why? Well besides asking questions like, "Can I have another Oreo," or "Can I go watch Dragonball Z?" A kid's gonna ask, "Why does that work?" And that's gonna help challenge your assumptions. For instance, going back to our Pythagorean Theorem example, maybe you know the formula, but a kid would ask you why does that formula work? Why does the Pythagorean Theorem hold as a rule for all right triangles? And yeah, maybe you understand that intuitively, maybe you could bust out the proof by rearrangement, but maybe you can't. Maybe you've always looked at the formula and taken it at face value, in which case, you have some more learning to do. Now speaking of the Pythagorean Theorem, maybe that was a bit too simple of an example for you and you'd like to see this technique applied to something more complex or something that has nothing to do with math at all. If that's you, in the companion article for this video, I've included a couple of different examples. One going through Bayes' Rule, which is a concept and probability theory in statistics, and one going over the CSS Box Model, which is related to web development and not related to math, at all, that you can check out. So if you want to see those, you can click the card on the screen right now to get over to the article, or you could find the link down in the description below. Beyond that, if you enjoyed this video and found it helpful, definitely give it a like to support this channel and if you have addition tips or ways that you use this technique personally, I would love to hear from you down in the comments below. Additionally, if you're not subscribed to this channel yet and you want to get new tips on how to be a more productive student, you can click right there to subscribe and you can also click right there if you want to get a free copy of my book on how to earn better grades. Otherwise you can click right around there to find another video which you will probably find interesting. Thanks for watching and I will see you in the next one.



Early life

Carey Thomas, as she preferred to be called later in life (she was known as Minnie to her family as a child), was born in Baltimore, Maryland on January 2, 1857. She was the daughter of James Carey Thomas and Mary Whitall Thomas. She was conceived "in full daylight," because her father, a doctor, thought this would diminish the chance of his wife miscarrying.[1]:3 Her family included many prominent Quakers, including her uncle and aunt Robert Pearsall Smith and Hannah Whitall Smith, and her cousins Alys Pearsall Smith (first wife of Bertrand Russell) and Mary Smith Berenson Costelloe (who married Bernard Berenson).

In 1864, when Carey Thomas was just seven years old, she was severely burned while trying to help her cook, Eliza, prepare lunch. Thomas's frock caught on fire and the young girl was engulfed in flames, which were shortly thereafter extinguished by her mother. Her recovery was long and arduous, a time during which her mother cared for her intently. Growing up, Thomas was strongly influenced by the staunch feminism of her mother and her mother's sister Hannah Whitall Smith, who became a prominent preacher. Her father, a physician, was not completely happy with feminist ideas, but his daughter was fiercely independent, and he supported her in all of her independent endeavors. Though both her parents were orthodox members of the Society of Friends, Thomas' education and European travel led her to question those beliefs and develop a love for music and theater, both of which were forbidden to Orthodox Quakers. This religious questioning led to friction with her mother.

Thomas initially attended a Society of Friends school in Baltimore. Minnie had a strong childhood relationship with her cousin, Frank Smith, Hannah Smith's son. The two were almost inseparable until Frank's sudden death in 1872. His death deeply depressed Minnie, and moved her parents to send her to the Howland Institute. Minnie transferred with her cousin, Bessie, to the Howland Institute, a Quaker boarding school near Ithaca, New York, in October, 1872. While at Howland, Minnie decided to dress as a man in the school's opera, which made her mother very upset, for it was "repugnant to her taste." It was here that Miss Slocum, a teacher at Howland, influenced her to study education, rather than medicine. Thomas hoped to enter Cornell University to pursue further education, but met with her father's objections. After a great deal of pleading from both Thomas and her mother, her father relented.[2]

Thomas went to Sage College, a women's school at Cornell University, in September, 1875, where she formally changed her name to Carey from Minnie. She graduated from Cornell University in 1877. Cornell offered her both the position of professor of literature and dean of Sage College, but she did not consider either.[1][page needed] She did graduate work in Greek at Johns Hopkins University, but withdrew because she was not permitted to attend classes.[2] She did further graduate work at the University of Leipzig, but that university did not grant degrees to women. She then went to the University of Zurich and earned a Ph.D. in linguistics, summa cum laude, in 1882 for her dissertation, which was a philological analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This dissertation continued to be highly regarded by specialists eighty years later.[2] She was the first woman and the first foreigner to receive such a doctorate from the university.[2] She then spent some time in Paris, where she attended lectures by Gaston Paris at the Sorbonne, and then went back home to the United States. Thomas did not pursue her degree out of love for her academic work, but rather out of a desire to show Americans that women had the same intellectual capacity as men.[2]

At Bryn Mawr

In 1882, Thomas wrote a letter to the trustees of Bryn Mawr College, requesting that she be made president of the university. She was not granted the position, however, as the trustees were concerned about her relative youth and lack of experience.[2] Instead, Thomas entered in 1884 as the dean of the college and chair of English. Despite not receiving her desired role at Bryn Mawr, Thomas was active in the college's administration, working closely with then president James Rhoads. According to the biographical dictionary Notable American Women: 1607–1950, by 1892 she was "acting president in all but name".[2]

At the end of April 1884 Thomas went with the encouragement of President Rhoads to tour other colleges in the area to become familiar with them in order to bring ideas back to Bryn Mawr. She started her tour at Vassar, then she went on to Smith College, Wellesley, and ended her tour at Radcliffe (or the Harvard Annex as it was still called at the time).[3]

In 1885 Thomas, together with Mary Garrett, Mamie Gwinn (February 2, 1860 – November 11, 1940), Elizabeth King, and Julia Rogers, founded The Bryn Mawr School, a prep school in Baltimore, Maryland. The school would produce well-educated young women who met the very high entrance standards of Bryn Mawr College.

In 1894, President Rhoads died,[4] and Thomas was narrowly elected to succeed him on September 1, 1894. Out of respect for President Rhoads's recent death, Thomas was not given any ceremony. She was president until 1922 and remained as Dean until 1908. During her tenure as president, Thomas' primary concern was upholding the highest standards of admissions and academic rigor. The entrance examinations for the college were made as difficult as those at Harvard University, and pupils could not gain admission by certificate. For the academic curriculum, Thomas emulated the "group system" of Johns Hopkins, in which students were required to take parallel courses in a logical sequence. Students could not freely choose electives. There were also other requirements, including a foreign language requirement that culminated in a sight translation examination proctored by Thomas herself. Overall, the academic curriculum at Bryn Mawr under Thomas shunned liberal arts education, preferring more traditional topics such as Greek, Latin, and mathematics.[2] Thomas was also instrumental in bringing several new buildings to the College, which introduced collegiate Gothic architecture to the United States.

In 1908, she became the first president of the National College Women's Equal Suffrage League. She was also a leading member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. After 1920 she advocated the policies of the National Woman's Party. She was one of the early promoters of an equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

For many years Thomas maintained an intimate relationship with long-time friend, Mamie Gwinn.[5] Thomas and Gwinn lived together at Bryn Mawr College in a small cottage that came to be known as "the Deanery".[6] When Gwinn left Thomas in 1904 to marry (a love triangle fictionalized in Gertrude Stein's Fernhurst) Alfred Hodder, a fellow Professor of English at Bryn Mawr College,[7] Thomas pursued a relationship with Mary Elizabeth Garrett.[5] Thomas shared her campus home, the Deanery, with Garrett and together they endeavored to grow Bryn Mawr's resources. Upon her death, Garrett, who had been prominent in suffrage work and a benefactor of Bryn Mawr, left to President Thomas "a sum which would, in 1994, be close to $15,000,000."[1]:424 to be disposed of as she saw fit. M. Carey Thomas had firm views on marriage, and in a letter to her mother she described it as a "Loss of freedom, poverty, and a personal subjection for which I see absolutely no compensation." [1]:173


Both during and before her tenure as college president, Thomas actively worked to bar Jews from entering Bryn Mawr, both as faculty members and as students, biographer Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz noted. [8]

Thomas blocked the hiring of Jewish teachers, and later worked to remove Jewish candidates from consideration for faculty positions. Thomas also tried to block the admission of Sadie Szold, a Jewish student, to the college.

In August 2017, Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy addressed Thomas' "racism and anti-Semitism'[9] and demands by some that the school drop Thomas' name from several buildings.

"While Thomas had a profound impact on opportunities for women in higher education," Cassidy wrote, "on the academic development and identity of Bryn Mawr, and on the physical plan of the campus, she also openly and vigorously advanced racism and anti-Semitism as part of her vision of the College. Some of you have suggested that the College rename Thomas Library and Thomas Great Hall because of this legacy, and others have suggested making that history explicit in other ways."

Later life and death

Thomas retired in 1922, at age sixty-five. She left the college in the capable hands of Marion Edwards Park, who had served as a dean at both Simmons and Radcliffe Colleges. The Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers in Industry, which was founded at Carey's behest in 1921, was a sort of "grand finale" bookending Thomas' legacy as an earlier shaper of the college.[1]:40 Mary Garrett left a considerable fortune to Thomas, who spent the last two decades of her life traveling the world in luxury, including trips to India, the Sahara, and France. Thomas died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 2, 1935 of a coronary occlusion. She had returned to the city to address Bryn Mawr College on the fiftieth anniversary of its founding. Her ashes were scattered on the Bryn Mawr College campus in the cloisters of the Thomas Library.[2]



  1. ^ a b c d e Horowitz, Helen (1994). The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0-252-06811-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "THOMAS, Martha Carey (Jan. 2, 1857 – Dec. 2, 1935): Educator and Feminist". Notable American Women: 1607–1950. Harvard University Press. 1971. Retrieved 2010-04-04. 
  3. ^ Finch, Edith (1947). Carey Thomas of Bryn Mawr. New York & London: Harper & Brothers. pp. 138–144. 
  4. ^ "James E. Rhoads, 1885–1894". Bryn Mawr College. Archived from the original on 2015-02-20. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  5. ^ a b Faderman, Lillian (1991). Odd girls and twilight lovers : a history of lesbian life in twentieth-century America ([4. Aufl.] ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0231074889. 
  6. ^ Horowitz, Helen (1994). The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 172, 202–203. 
  7. ^ Horowitz. The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas. pp. 211–212, 278–286, 359. 
  8. ^ "Bryn Mawr College to place moratorium on using name of founder who was known anti-Semite". JTA. 28 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  9. ^ Cassidy, Kim. "Message from President Cassidy: Grappling with Bryn Mawr's Histories". Bryn Mawr College. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 

External links

This page was last edited on 26 December 2017, at 20:41.
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