Queer Places:
Harvard University, 101 Dunster St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Dorchester Abbey, High St, Dorchester, Wallingford OX10 7HH, UK

Edith Gratia Stedman (December 29, 1888 - July 16, 1978) was a social worker and college administrator.

Edith Gratia Stedman was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on December 29, 1888, the daughter of George Herbert and Gratia Holt. The family moved to Belmont, Massachusetts, where Stedman attended high school. She was graduated from Radcliffe College in 1910.

Edith Gratia Stedman worked for Jessie Hodder in the Social Service Department of the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1911, when Hodder was appointed Superintendent of the Framingham Reformatory for Women, Stedman went with her and became Head of the Social Service Department there. She resigned under pressure from her brother and for two years, from 1915 to 1917, ran the family candy store in Boston.

In 1917 she and two friends, Margaret Deland and Sylvia Anable, volunteered for service overseas; she served as a canteen worker with the Young Men's Christian Association in France and occupied Germany until 1919.

In 1920 she went overseas again, as a medical social worker at an Episcopal Mission of the Diocese of Hankow, under Bishop Logan Roots, in Wu Chang, China. The eruption of civil war there in 1927 forced her to leave.

On her return to Boston she was offered a position as executive secretary at the Judge Baker Foundation, the guidance clinic for children.

In 1930, Ada Louise Comstock appointed her head the Appointment Bureau (now Office of Career Placement) at Radcliffe, a position she held for 24 years. Challenged by shrinking job opportunities due to the depression, Stedman introduced vocational programs at Harvard-Radcliffe to give students training in marketable skills: the summer secretarial course, waitress course, and counseling and camp handicrafts course. She created the Summer Playgroup, which employed students under a professional director, and began the Publishing Procedures Course in 1936. In 1937 she developed and was the director of the Training Course in Personnel Administration, a program focused on "the understanding and treatment of human problems in any employment situation." Fritz J. Roethlisberger, who taught from 1938 to 1947 said that it was "the first daring experiment in "practical education" for women." Stedman served as Director of the Training Course until 1941. Its scope expanded until, in 1962, when Harvard Business School granted admission to women, it became their Personnel Training Course.

Formal retirement from Radcliffe in 1954 opened a new range of activities for Stedman. In 1955-1959 she volunteered at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

Beginning in 1959 she spent six months of every year in England, living with friends at the Manor House, Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. She founded the American Friends of Dorchester Abbey, which raised money for the conversion of the Cloister Garden into an Anglo-American Garden, to restore the great Jesse window in the East End, to erect a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill, and to restore the fabric of the Abbey. She created and ran a gift shop in the old monastic guest house, and was instrumental in arranging a Festal Evensong attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1970. In appreciation of her efforts her English friends had her likeness carved on a corbel at Dorchester Abbey, and in 1976 she was awarded by the Queen and nominated Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.). Her Dorchester Abbey Journals were copied and circulated among the American Friends.

Besides an unpublished autobiography, she wrote numerous works that were published: ''A Monastery Guest House Cookbook'' (1965, with nine subsequent editions), ''A Yankee in an English Village'' (1972), ''Anglo/American Double Talk'' (1972), ''Finger Prints'', and many articles. She also wrote stories, religious pieces, poems, and essays on old age that were not published.

Menieres disease and deafness prevented her from travel at the end of her life and she spent her last years in Sherrill House, an Episcopal nursing home in Boston. She died on July 16, 1978.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/queerplaces/images/Edith_G._Stedman