Rachel Ann Lusher Elder

Honored by:Rachel Elder
Brick location:F:11  map

Because his great-grandmother Ella Amaretta Abbott Arthur and his grandmother Janet Lucy Arthur Lusher are honored here in the Carrie Chapman Catt Plaza of Heroines, Gordon Elder decided his mother Rachel Ann Lusher Elder should also have a brick.

He asked me to write my autobiography. My life has been influenced deeply by Iowa State University. My earliest childhood friend and I met as preschoolers when our mothers took us along when they went to a community club sponsored by Iowa State Extension Service.

I became a 4-H girl and attended State 4-H conventions on the campus in Ames. This gave me a dream to become an Iowa State student. This was a daring vision for an Iowa farm girl in the days of the depression. I accumulated $200 to begin by earning ten cents an hour baby-sitting and later twenty-seven cents an hour working in the Spirit Lake Public Library. At Iowa State in 1940 living in a co-op dorm and having a part-time job I found to my amazement that I could also be an honor student in Home Economics Education.

I received my B.S.1944. Married students were a rarity in those days but before I graduated I married James C. Elder an electrical engineering student who had been a student employee in the Physics Department where he had wired the original computer designed by J. V. Atanasoff. James continued to be employed by the Physics Department on World War II research projects for two years in mine testing at a U.S. Navy facility in Maryland.

Like many of our contemporaries in those years we returned to Iowa State after the war. James graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1947. I received my M.S. in Home Management that same year. The Home Management major was a combination of Family Sociology with Rueben Hill in the Sociology Department and courses and student teaching in Child Development. This program was designed for me by Dr. Paulina Nickells head of the Home Management Department.

With this academic preparation I have gone in to teaching clothing in a junior high school and teaching nursery school in a cooperative parent-supported program. I then spent ten years as a researcher and curriculum developer in the Psychology Department of Union College Schenectady New York. I developed a religious education curriculum for two and three year olds their parents and their church school teachers. Being one of the earliest generations of women to be both mothers and professionals I went on to graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley with one year at Stanford University.

Concurrently with having three daughters and then three sons I have had many careers: language arts consultant in an elementary school adult reading improvement instructor supervisor of Early Childhood student teachers administrator of a Master's program for in-service early childhood teachers curriculum developer for in-service early childhood teachers operator of a family day care center and Professor of Early Childhood Education.

Although I am "retired" I am not retiring. I continue to study to serve on the Board of the International Child Resource institute in Berkeley California to be politically involved in issues with impact on children and families and to participate with enthusiasm in the Carrie Chapman Catt campaign. The future for me as a woman and educator continues to evolve. This year I have two new grandchildren. I am visiting Sweden to study their philosophy of play and leaming in child development.

I am thankful that my son Gordon considers me worthy to be honored along with my mother and my grandmother on the Plaza of Heroines at Iowa State University.