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Ward, Winifred, 1884-1975



  • Existence: 1884 - 1975


Winifred Louise Ward was born October 29, 1884 in Eldora, Iowa, the youngest daughter of Allena Dimmick and George W. Ward, prominent Eldora lawyer. She had two sisters, Ethel Ward and Mrs. Marian Nuckolls, and a brother, Clinton, who was killed at age 21. Ward graduated from Eldora High School in 1902 and in 1903 began her studies as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University's Cumnock School of Oratory under the direction of Dean Robert McLean Cumnock and Miss Agness Law. She received her diploma in 1905. After two years of directing plays and declamation contests in Iowa, Ward was a special teacher of reading, drama and physical education in the public schools of Adrian, Michigan from 1908 to 1916. From 1916 to 1918, she attended the University of Chicago, receiving her Ph.D. degree with honors, in education, on August 30, 1918.

In 1918, Ward was asked to teach at Northwestern University's School of Oratory and that year began as an instructor and assistant professor, a career which was to last until her retirement in 1950. She opened a new field of education: the teaching of drama with and for children (creative drama and children's theater) to prospective teachers.

In 1924, the elementary schools of Evanston, Illinois made the creative dramatics course a curricular subject, and Ward became the first supervisor, a position she held until her retirement in 1950.

In 1925, with Ralph Dennis (later dean of the School of Speech) and Alexander Dean (the head of theater at Northwestern), Ward founded a children's theater, with the double purpose of providing a worthy service to Evanston and giving the Speech students a laboratory in the study of theater for youth. The first full-length production was the play “Snow White,” performed in 1925 under the auspices of Northwestern University's Thalian Dramatic Club of the School of Speech. Two years later, in 1927, the elementary schools joined the School of Speech in sponsoring the theater and a board of directors was appointed, consisting of Dean Ralph Dennis, the superintendents of the north and south and intermediary schools, members of the P.T.A. and Ward. The result was The Children's Theater of Evanston, one of the pioneer theaters for children in America. Winifred Ward went on to direct the Children's Theater of Evanston for twenty-five years, retiring in 1950. In 1944, she founded the national Children's Theater Conference.

Each of Ward's two separate programs served a different purpose: the creative dramatics classes in the schools were for the purpose of giving the children in the classes an opportunity for self-expression and training in oral English and literature appreciation. The Children's Theater of Evanston was for the audience, for its entertainment and for the development of discriminating appreciation in the theater, as well as serving the Northwestern University's School of Speech as a laboratory for training directors of children's dramatics.

Ward wrote four books: Creative Dramatics, 1930, published by D. Appleton & Co., N.Y.; Theater for Children, 1939, second edition 1948, published by D. Appleton-Century Co., Inc., N.Y.; Playmaking With Children, 1947, second edition 1957, published by Appleton-Century-Crofts, N.Y., and Stories to Dramatize, 1952, published by the Children's Theater Press, Cloverlot, Anchorage, Kentucky. Ward also wrote two pamphlets, “Choice and Direction of Children's Plays,” 1928, published by L.D. Horner, Redfield, Iowa, and “Drama with and for Children,” written for publication by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Office of Education, 1960. In addition, she has written numerous articles, essays, speeches and lectures for publication in many local, national and international magazines, journals and newspapers.

Ward also made four European tours, including a trip to the 1936 Russian Theater Festival, trips to Europe in 1923 and 1930, as well as an extended trip to the Hawaiian Islands in 1952.

In 1950, Winifred Ward retired as director of the Children's Theater of Evanston and from her posts at Northwestern University and in the Evanston elementary school systems. For over twenty years afterwards, she continued writing, teaching in drama workshops throughout the country, and attending and organizing numerous conferences and conventions.

Ward was a member of the First Methodist Church of Evanston, the American Educational Theater Association, the American National Theater and Academy, Zeta Phi Eta Speech Fraternity, Zonta International Business & Professional Executives (Honorary) and the Drama Club of Evanston (Honorary). She received honorary degrees and awards from numerous universities and organizations, including the Medallion of Honor from Theta Alphi Phi, the Zeta Phi Eta (Drama) Society “Zeta of the Year” Award, and an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters from Adelphi College, New York, in 1953.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Jan A. Guffin (1938-) Papers

Identifier: 55/32

The papers of Jan A. Guffin (1938- ) concern his dissertation on Winifred Ward. They span the period 1973-1975, anhd contain correspondence and research notes.

Dates: 1973-1975

Winifred Ward (1884-1975) Papers

Identifier: 20/8
Abstract Winifred Louise Ward began her studies as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University's Cumnock School of Oratory. After two years of directing plays and declamation contests, and teaching grade school she attended the University of Chicago. She received her Ph.D. in education in 1918. Soon after, Ward was asked to teach at Northwestern University's School of Oratory and that year began as an instructor and assistant professor, a career which was to last until her retirement in 1950....
Dates: 1917-1978

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Children's theater 1
Theater--Study and teaching 1