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Elizabeth Frances Gardner (1908–2001)

Author of Introduction to literary Japanese

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Elizabeth ("Betty") Frances Gardner was born June 24, 1908 in Derby, CT. She attended MHC from 1925-28 and then 1929-30 for the undergraduate degree because she spent the year 1928-29 studying at Royal Frederik's University in Oslo, Norway. She was a graduate student in linguistics at Yale University from 1931-32, and 1934-35; and at Brown University from 1942-43, where she was awarded a University junior fellowship for her studies. In addition to this fellowship she did "preliminary editing of manuscripts for the Linguistic Atlas in return for tuition" at Brown.

She worked for the WPA as "a director of survey of folklore and folkways of Connecticut" from November 1936 until April 1937. Also, she listed on her employment history form that she worked "filing Hupa Indian material for Dr. E. Sapir" of Yale University for 80 cents an hour. She was a proofreader at Fortune magazine from April 1937 until June 1942 when she went to Brown to do graduate work. By 1944 she was taking a leave from Brown and working with the Language Section, Morale Services Division, of the U.S. War Department with her salary being paid by the American Council of Learned Societies. Later that year she was back at Brown and also teaching in the Foreign Area Study at Yale as an assistant instructor. She taught Japanese for an army Japanese language program at Yale with courses devoted to reading and writing. She received her PhD in linguistics from Yale in 1948, continuing to teach Japanese and an Intro to Linguistics class at Yale. In 1950 she wrote to MHC regarding her employment: "I'm still apparently the only living female whose appointment is to Yale; isn't it fun? But the classes are quite alarmingly small, and even the Institute of Far Eastern Languages, etc., for which I teach a course, expects a falling off of its missionary students. So who knows?" Over the next few years she lists her position as "Assistant Professor" rather than "Instructor" at Yale.

She may have left Yale in 1955 because of family obligations in Derby, CT; she moved to Poughkeepsie in 1967. She seems to have had a close female friend or partner, a scientist named Margaret R. Wright, who she met at Yale, and with whom she lived for many years. Elizabeth died on August 19, 2001 in Beacon, NY, at the Fishkill Health Center after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. In other notes: she was 5 feet tall and listed her religion as Congregational.
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