Laura Amanda White. On March 4, 1908, the Nebraska State Journal reported that: “Miss Laura A. White, a fellow in the department of American history, has gone to Goldfield, Nevada, to accept a position in the high school there as a teacher of history.”
Later that year, from the first edition of the Goldfield High School publication, the Thanksgiving Day, 1908 Joshua Palm, listed among the teachers were Laura Amanda White, University of Nebraska, 1904, (History) and a fellow Nebraskan classmate, A. Russell Moore, University of Nebraska, 1904, (Science). The enrollment of the High School that Thanksgiving, 1908 was 125.
Laura White taught history at Goldfield High School for the school years 1908-09, 1909-10, and 1910-11, returning to visit her family in Webster City, Iowa for holidays and during breaks. In 1910, the Goldfield census shows her as age 27, single, renting at 1000 E. Crook with Lois B. White, a fellow teacher.
It appears she was very well liked by her students as the 1911 issue of The Joshua Palm was dedicated “To Laura A. White, for three years our class teacher, this book is lovingly dedicated by the Senior Class.”
And not to be outdone, the Junior Class Notes:
The Last Wail of the Expiring Juniors.
Our History teacher, Miss L. White,
Is going to leave us some dark night.
The Junior Class is very sad,
For her “Lectures” are not very bad.
LAURA A. WHITE, History 1911 Joshua Palm
During her time in Goldfield, she researched and worked on her master’s thesis, “Rise of the Industrial Workers of the World in Goldfield, Nevada” which she presented to the Department of American History of the University of Nebraska in 1912.
Laura Amanda White was born in Bloomington, Illinois in September 1882, the fourth of five children born to James Robert White and Mary Jane (Coale) White.
Laura’s father was born in McLean County, Illinois on September 26, 1844. From “The History of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Veteran Infantry”, on September 19, 1861, he enlisted in Company E, Thirty-Ninth Illinois Volunteers. He was taken sick in May, 1862, sent to hospital at Clear Creek, Virginia and was caught up in the grand retreat of General Bank’s army. Discharged for disability at Williamsport, Maryland on June 19, 1862, he returned home and worked at the carpentry trade until March 4, 1864, when he re-enlisted in his old company.
On May 30, 1864, he was slightly wounded by a fragment of shell and was on detached service for several weeks, guarding the pontoon bridge across the Appomattox River. He was mustered out with the regiment at Norfolk, Virginia, December 6, 1865 and discharged at Springfield, Illinois on December 16 that same year. After the war, he returned to the carpentry trade in Bloomington, Illinois.
Laura’s mother, Mary Jane Coale, was born in Indiana on June 3, 1847. She and James were married in McLean County, Illinois on December 14, 1869 and the census of 1870 caught the newlyweds in Padua, Illinois, about 15 miles east of Bloomington, where James was still working as a carpenter.
All of their children were born near or in Bloomington, Illinois; William Lloyd (1870-1880), Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ (1872- 1954), James L. (1877-1950), Laura Amanda (1882-1948) and Anna Coale (1884-1960).
In 1891, when their youngest child, Anna, was about six years old, the family relocated to Webster City, Iowa where James had purchased a planing mill and where both Laura’s parents would live for the remainder of their lives. The 1900 census shows the family living at 631 Boone Street in Webster City where Laura’s father, James, age 55, is working as an architect.
Between 1900 and 1904, Laura attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln where she was an active member of the Eleventh Hour Club and was elected to membership in the honorary society of Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated in June 1904 with a B. A. in American history, European history and her Teachers’ Certificate. The UN Senior Class Book of 1904 notes her as: “Most industrious member of ’04. Comes from Iowa, but, like so many others, recognizes the superior educational advantages of Nebraska. Expects to teach until she can become a librarian.”
The 1905 Iowa State Census shows Laura returned to Webster City where she is living with her parents and, at the Webster City High School’s graduation in April 1906, she is listed as one of the high school faculty.
Later in 1906, Laura returned to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln where, in June she was awarded a scholarship in American history and, in June of 1907, she received a fellowship, also in American history.
In 1908, she interrupted her studies to take a teaching position as a history teacher in the high school in Goldfield, Nevada for three years.
Upon leaving Goldfield in 1911, Laura returned to the University of Nebraska, where she received her M. A. in 1912 and started working toward her doctorate at the University of Chicago. In 1913, she again interrupted her studies to accept a position to teach secondary level history classes at the University High School in Laramie, Wyoming. After the untimely death of University of Wyoming Department of History Chair in March 1914, the university president asked Laura to assume the chair, a position she held for over 30 years, and teach college-level history. She continued to work on her doctorate which she received from the University of Chicago in 1917, magna cum laude.
The 1920 Census found Laura, age 37, living at 1117 Garfield Street in Laramie, Wyoming, boarding with Clara F. McIntyre, a fellow professor at the University of Wyoming.
On April 30, 1926, Laura’s father, James, passed away and on June 14 of that same year, her mother, Mary, also passed away. They were both laid to rest in the family plot in Graceland Cemetery, Webster City, Iowa.
In both the 1930 and 1940 Census, Laura is living as a lodger with Clara as head of household in an owned home at 1406 Custer Street in Laramie. The 1940 census notes Laura as a Professor of History and Clara as a Professor of English, both at the University of Wyoming.
Laura White was the author of the book, “Robert Barnwell Rhett, Father of Secession” (1931), an expansion of her thesis submitted for her degree of doctor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, and numerous published articles mainly of the Civil War era, perhaps influenced by her father’s participation in that war. She was an active member of the Southern Historical Association from its beginning, was an active member of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, was a member of the executive Council of the American Historical Association (1945-1948) and, at the time of her death, had been working for several years on a biography of Charles Sumner. This manuscript was later found and, to salvage something from many years of research, the chapter of the Brooks affair was shortened, edited and published in The New England Quarterly in September 1960 as “Was Charles Sumner Shamming, 1856-1859?”
Dr. Laura Amanda White passed away on June 29, 1948 in Laramie, Wyoming and was laid to rest with her parents in the family plot in Webster City, Iowa. After her death, a memorial plaque, booklet and seminar room were established at the University of Wyoming in memory of “this great scholar, teacher and friend whose imperishable works have richly endowed the University of Wyoming.”