Rose A. Doherty, author of Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves

Katharine Gibbs: Trailblazing Woman in Business

Katharine Gibbs created her school from nothing. She was a 46-year-old widow with no income, two sons to support, and only a high school education when she began her school in 1911. She was CEO of three schools two years before women had the vote. She was an entrepreneur who educated women for business when they were not welcome.

After her death, the family fostered the icon of Gibbs excellence worldwide and added campuses including Bermuda. The last owners were large corporations who kept the core tradition of excellence. Multiple campuses, new programs of study, the introduction of degrees, and the return of male students remade Gibbs with adaptability reminiscent of the founder.

The Gibbs family motto “Hold to Your Purpose” motivated graduates from 1911 to 2011. Graduates include a college president, US ambassador, CIA operatives, bank president, lawyers, writers, business executives and owners, graphic designers, and professionals in many fields. Those who care about business history, education history, or women’s history will be interested in this illustrated talk.

Rose A. Doherty

Rose A. Doherty is a founding board member of The Pursuit of History. She is president emerita of the Partnership of Historic Bostons, an all-volunteer group dedicated to preserving the legacies of Boston, Massachusetts, and Boston, England, in the seventeenth century. She is also a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, an officer of the Needham Historical Commission, and a member of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts.

Rose is the author of Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves, the first book about the world-renowned Gibbs College. She formerly served as academic dean and chair of the board of trustees of Gibbs College, Boston. Doherty has taught at Gibbs College, Boston College, and the Boston Conservatory. Before retiring, she was assistant dean and director of the liberal arts and criminal justice programs at University College, Northeastern University.