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Catherine Filene Shouse (1896–1994)

Portrait of Catherine Filene (Shouse) taken at the time of her graduation from Bradford Academy in Haverhill, Mass. Gelatin Silver print, 1913. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute.

Shouse was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of A. Lincoln Filene and Therese (Weil) Filene. She attended Bradford Academy (1911–1913), spent one year at Vassar College (1913–1914), and graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. (1918). While an undergraduate, she organized a series of conferences to promote jobs for educated women.

Shouse was hired as assistant to the chief of the Women's Division of the US Employment Service of the Department of Labor (1917). In 1919, she returned to Boston and enrolled at Radcliffe College as a graduate student. When the Harvard Graduate School of Education (which her father helped establish) opened in 1920, she transferred and was the first woman to earn a degree there (MA 1923). Houghton Mifflin commissioned her to expand her thesis and edit Careers for Women in 1920; a revised edition was published in 1934.

She married economist Alvin E. Dodd in 1921; they had one daughter, Joan, and divorced in 1929. Two years later Shouse married Jouett Shouse, a former congressman from Kansas.

The first woman appointed to the Democratic National Committee (1925), Shouse served as editor of the Woman's National Democratic Committee's Bulletin (1929–1932). Shouse was also the first woman to chair the board of the Federal Prison for Women (1926), where she instituted job-training and rehabilitation programs. In 1929 she founded the Institute of Women's Professional Relations, which organized national conferences on opportunities for women who had more than a high-school education.

An ardent supporter of the perfoming arts, Shouse began as a volunteer fundraiser for the National Symphony Orchestra. She also organized and sponsored the Candlelight Concerts in Washington, DC to supplement salaries of NSO musicians (1935–1942), and served as chair of the President's Music Committee's Person-to-Person Program (1957–1963) which produced annual calendars of national and international performances, and organized the first International Jazz Festival (1962).

In 1961, she donated 40 acres of her farm at Wolf Trap to the American Symphony Orchestra. In 1966, Shouse donated 100 acres and provided the funds for an open-air theater to the National Park Service. Wolf Trap came into being as the only national park for the performing arts. Jouett died in 1968. Catherine Filene Shouse carried on her philanthropic activities until her death on December 14, 1994.

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