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Old 10-07-2009, 08:23 PM   #1
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Fisher, Dorothy Canfield: Understood Betsy. V1. 7 Oct 2009

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (February 17, 1879 – November 9, 1958) was an educational reformer, social activist, and best-selling American author in the early decades of the Twentieth century. She was named by Eleanor Roosevelt one of the ten most influential women in the United States. Dorothy Canfield brought the Montessori method of child rearing to the United States, presided over the country's first adult education program, and shaped literary tastes by serving as a member of the Book-of-the-Month Club selection committee from 1925 to 1951.
Her best-known work today is probably Understood Betsy, a children's book about a little orphaned girl who is sent to live with her cousins in Vermont. Though the book can be read purely for pleasure, it also describes a schoolhouse which is run much in the style of the Montessori method, for which Canfield was one of the first and most vocal advocates.

Excerpt
When this story begins, Elizabeth Ann, who is the heroine of it, was a little girl of nine, who lived with her Great-aunt Harriet in a medium-sized city in a medium-sized State in the middle of this country; and that’s all you need to know about the place, for it’s not the important thing in the story; and anyhow you know all about it because it was probably very much like the place you live in yourself.
Elizabeth Ann’s Great-aunt Harriet was a widow who was not very rich or very poor, and she had one daughter, Frances, who gave piano lessons to little girls. They kept a “girl” whose name was Grace and who had asthma dreadfully and wasn’t very much of a “girl” at all, being nearer fifty than forty. Aunt Harriet, who was very tender-hearted, kept her chiefly because she couldn’t get any other place on account of her coughing so you could hear her all over the house.
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