Partner Louise Stevens Bryant
University of California, Berkeley, CA
Barnard College, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, Stati Uniti
Columbia University, 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10027
Lura Ella Beam (April 1, 1887 – May 1969) was a writer and teacher who
spent her life studying and writing about what she described as "the poor in
life; minorities, some women, some Causes like education and the arts."
Lura Ella Beam was born on April 1, 1887, in Marshfield, Maine, the daughter of George Ellery Beam and Nellie H. Berry.
She graduated from the local high school in 1904 and from 1904 to 1906 she attended the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated from Barnard College in 1908. In 1917, she earned an M.A. from Columbia University.
From 1908 to 1919 Lura Beam worked at the American Missionary Association (AMA), beginning here the work that she would pursue, in one form or another, for the rest of her life. For three years she worked for the American Missionary Association as a teacher at two black schools: the Gregory Normal Institute in Wilmington, North Carolina, and then the LeMoyne Normal School in Memphis, Tennessee. She then became the American Missionary Association's Assistant Superintendent of Education in charge of the Deep South, visiting schools and colleges through the South to determine their most successful teachers and programs. Her reports were sent to all American Missionary Association schools so that they could improve the quality of education they offered.
University of California, Berkeley, CA
From 1919 to 1926 Beam
researched and wrote reports for the Association of American Colleges.
The research and travel for "Art in the Liberal College," an extensive study
of art curricula in seven representative colleges, provided a basis for her
later work from 1937 to 1952 for the American Association of University
Women (AAUW), where Beam organized and mounted art exhibitions and surveys
of community art projects.
From 1927 to 1933 Beam worked for the National Committee on Maternal Health, the General Education Board in New York City, and a Federal Research Project in Industrial Unemployment.
In 1931, together with Robert Latou Dickinson, she published ''A Thousand Marriages: A Medical Study of Sex Adjustment'', followed in 1934, always with Dickinson, by ''The Single Woman: a Medical Study in Sex Education''.
Since retiring in 1952, Beam continued to write and to organize art exhibitions.
In 1957 she published ''A Maine Hamlet'', describing the village of Marshfield, near Machias, Maine, where she was born at the turn of the century and where she often spent the summer vacations with her longtime partner Louise Stevens Bryant. It was Bryant that, fascinated by small town life, encouraged Beam to write the book and the book is dedicated to Bryant's memory.
In 1967 she published the monograph ''He Called Them by the Lightning; a Teacher's Odyssey in the Negro South, 1908-1919''.
Since 1968, she compiled information and wrote a study on aging and retirement.
Lura Beam's romantic partner for almost 35 years was Louise Stevens Bryant, a public health specialist, writer, editor and publicist. They met in the 1920s while both were working for the National Committee on Maternal Health (CMH). After Bryant's death in 1956, Beam published a biography about her, ''Bequest From a Life; a Biography of Louise Stevens Bryant'', published in 1963. According to Jennifer Terry "although they never explicitly called themselves lesbians, the nature of their relationship was known to close associates, including Dickinson." At Smith College, Louise Stevens Bryant Collection, there are letters between from Bryant to Bear: "I love and adore you and miss you fearfully all the time" (ca. 1922) and "Now I am a real Amazon. I love you" (January 16, 1925).
Lura Beam died in May 1969, in Bronxville, New York.
The Papers of Lura Beam, 1900-1969 are hosted at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.