During her years at Adelphi, she served as the literary editor of the Oracle, Adelphi’s yearbook, and was also a member of the choir.
More than 70 years after graduating from Adelphi, Florence (Hennig) Winslow ’41 can still remember the impact her commencement speaker, Lillian Moller Gilbreth, had on her. An engineer, author, and widowed mother of twelve children, Dr. Gilbreth told Adelphi’s Class of 1941 that they could have it all—a career as well as a family. “She left me feeling that if I really wanted to do something, I could do it,” said Mrs. Winslow. It was a message she never forgot.
She first enrolled at Adelphi in 1937 with her younger sister Gladys. “My mother realized how bright she was and had us enter school together,” she recalled. As undergraduate students, her sister Gladys studied history while Florence studied English. She fondly remembered Professor Owen Groves, who was the head of the Department of English at the time.
During her years at Adelphi, she served as the literary editor of the Oracle, Adelphi’s yearbook, and was also a member of the choir. She recalled taking one of the first dance classes Adelphi offered with internationally renowned choreographer and dancer Ruth St. Denis, who became the head of Adelphi’s dance department. This was the first such collegiate program at an American college.
The sisters each received a half scholarship from Adelphi. In addition, Florence worked at the local library to earn money for books and other expenses. However, sending two daughters to college simultaneously is a financial burden for any parents, and was especially so for hers during the Great Depression.
Their junior year at Adelphi, the Hennigs’ mother and father sold their house in New Hyde Park and moved to an apartment in Floral Park to ensure their girls could complete their degrees at Adelphi. “My mother had great aspirations for me and Gladys. She wanted us to receive our bachelor degrees and be well-educated,” said Florence, who recalled her mother taking her and her sister into Manhattan to visit museums during their younger years.
Thanks to her parents’ dedication to their children’s educations, Florence earned her bachelor’s degree in English in 1941, the same year Gladys earned hers in history.
Following graduation from Adelphi, in 1941, Florence married Roger Winslow and went on to have two daughters and one son. Sadly, her sister, who went on to earn her master’s degree and Ph.D. and moved to California as a professor of history, passed away from lupus at just 45 years old.
After dedicating many years to raising their children, Mrs. Winslow followed the advice she treasured receiving from Dr. Gilbreth her graduation day. She set out to pursue the career she had always wanted as a librarian.
Under her name in the Adelphi 1941 yearbook it reads, “Florence Frances Hennig…means to make use of her major in her future capacity as a librarian.” She enrolled at Southern Connecticut State University to pursue her graduate studies in library sciences. In February of 1970, she earned her master’s degree.
The work she did for her graduate thesis was ahead of its time, and focused on making libraries more accessible for children with disabilities. She hoped her work would serve as a resource that teachers could use to better accommodate their students.
In 1966, she applied and was hired at Oak Hill School, which at that time, specialized in educating students who were blind or partially blind. While at Oak Hill, she devised a new card catalog that was partly in braille and large type, which at the time was innovative and groundbreaking and earned her a place in Who’s Who of American Women. She remained at Oak Hill School until her retirement in 1978.
In early retirement, she volunteered much of her time to The Living Museum of Avon, a restored 19th-century schoolhouse that contains maps, photographs, farm implements household items, clothes, and diorama of the Farmington Canal all relating to 1830s. It was Mrs. Winslow who wrote the grant that earned Connecticut State funding to run the museum.
Mrs. Winslow, who retired to Arizona, has always loved to travel. Highlights of her trips include Egypt, Mount Everest, and the Taj Majal while in India. “I’ve seen a lot of the world,” she said. She continues to be a voracious reader and can be found with a book always close by. Mrs. Winslow had it all; education, family and career. Just like her Adelphi Commencement speaker predicted she could.
Published July 2014
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