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Fleta McWhorter Dowling and Gwen McWhorter Papers

Identifier: MSS-1643

Scope and Contents

Most of the correspondence in this collection was written by Fleta McWhorter Dowling to her sister Gwen between 1943 and 1946 and concerns the latter’s doctoral research and related matters. There is also a letter from Gwen to Fleta, one from Alfred Simpson of Columbia University to Gwen (1946), one from Frank S. Stafford of the U.S. office of Education to Gwen (1946), from William S. Vincent of Teachers College, Columbia University to Guy L. Hilleboe of Cambridge, Massachusetts (1944), and two Gwen McWhorter problem statements, one for a Harvard Workshop in Educational Administration (1944), and “A study of the use of participation in the development of school health programs,” which appears to be related to her dissertation work. Note to researchers: There are several items by Fleta McWhorter Dowling relative to her husband’s career and to her efforts to coordinate a memorial lecture series to honor him in the Judson Davie Dowling Papers in the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library. For further information, see the finding aid for that collection.


  • 1943 - 1949

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections. For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Sisters Fleta Brindley McWhorter Dowling and Gladys Gwen McWhorter were daughters of Samuel Lockridge McWhorter (1859-1951) and Thurza Athalene Brindley McWhorter (1861-1958). Their parents were both born in Georgia but subsequently moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where Gwen McWhorter was born. Fleta McWhorter was, during the 1920s, Director of School Health Education in Jefferson County, where she developed, in cooperation with the Jefferson County Health Department “an internationally recognized pioneer school health program”.(Birmingham News, 29 August 1961) She also published a Manual of health education for the elementary schools of Jefferson County, Alabama (1925) and Classroom situations as teaching opportunities for health instruction (1928). Her work with the Jefferson County Health Department brought her into contact with Dr. Judson Davie Dowling (1880-1946), the Public Health Officer for Birmingham and Jefferson County, 1917-41, whom she married in 1935. Gwen McWhorter earned degrees in Public Health (1943) and Education (1945) from Harvard University, and was among the first women to receive a doctoral degree from that institution. Her doctoral dissertation, “The use of group participation in the development of school health programs and policies” (1949) points to her and her sister’s shared interest in health education. Following graduation she spent eight years as a community health worker in Virginia before returning to Birmingham, where she spent the rest of her life working in health education. Shortly before her death in 2001, Gwen McWhorter made provisions to establish an Endowed Chair in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School from the proceeds of her estate.


0.1 Linear Feet (19 items)

Language of Materials



This collection consists of letters between Fleta McWhorter Dowling and her sister Gwen McWhorter, 1943-46, chiefly concerning the latter’s doctoral dissertation subject, some letters from others to Gwen McWhorter, and two Gwen McWhorter problem statements on the use of participation in the development of school health programs.
Guide to Fleta McWhorter Dowling and Gwen McWhorter Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266