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Geneva Drinkwater   (1897-1997):

Internationalist and Professor of History

On October 15, 1897, Albert C. and Maud Sterett Drinkwater had their daughter in Charleston, Missouri.  Geneva Drinkwater attended Charleston’s public schools for her preparatory education and, in 1915, received her associate’s degree from Stephens College in Colombia, Missouri.  In 1917 Drinkwater received a bachelor of arts degree, in addition to a bachelor’s of science in education, from the University of Missouri.  She then conducted some graduate studies as a Latin Scholar at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania from 1917 to 1918, and served as a professor of history at Stephens College in Colombia, Missouri in 1918.  After receiving her master of arts from the University of Chicago, Drinkwater studied at the Vatican School of Paleography and Diplomatique on the Carnegie Fellowship from 1929 until 1930.  Drinkwater specialized in medieval history; during her time in Rome she translated documents from Latin into English at a Benedictine monastery.  In 1931 she earned her doctoral degree from the University of Chicago, and then worked as a professor of history and dean of women at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota from 1931 to 1934.  Drinkwater returned to Carleton to assist her mother after her father’s death in the 1940s.  While in Carleton, she established the town’s first kindergarten and public library.  She transferred to the Woman’s College at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro in 1935, serving as dean of women and history professor for one year.  From 1935 to 1945 Drinkwater taught history at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and at Scripps College in Claremont, California while on sabbatical leave from Vassar. 

In 1952, Drinkwater came to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida as an associate professor of history.  She became a professor of history in 1959 until her retirement in 1963, when she received a Fulbright grant to serve as a visiting lecturer in history at the University of Madras in India.  She returned to Winter Park a year later where she frequented the Winter Park Library and the First United Methodist Church.  She actively served her community as the president of the local chapter of the American Association of the United Nations and as the chairman of the International Relations Committee for the American Association of University Women. Additionally, Drinkwater instructed adults in reading and writing through the Laubach Literacy program.  She was a member of Libra, Pi Gamma Mu, Kappa Kappa Gamma, the Mortar Board, and an honorary member in the Rollins Key Society, which began in 1927 as an organization to increase interest in campus and scholastic activities while promoting the welfare of the College.  She also joined the Southern Historical Association, American Historical Association and Medieval Academy of America, Florida Academy of Sciences, Board of Curators for Stephens College (in 1969 as an honorary life member), Association for Higher America, American Association of University Professors, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters, Friends of Winter Park Public Library, Board of United Church Women, Council of Church Women, and the Methodist Church.  Drinkwater published several works: Essays Presented to James Westfall Thompson (1938), and Medieval Library (1939).  She died three months short of her one-hundredth birthday on July 21, 1997.

- Angelica Garcia

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