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Winter Park Library Archive

Dr. Geneva Drinkwater

She dedicated her life to education and instilled joy in her students

Born in 1897 in Charleston, Missouri, Geneva Drinkwater died just three months shy of her 100th birthday. If there was one word to describe the focus of her life, it would have been education. In fact, she once said that she gave her life to learning and teaching . . . and she shared that passion with thousands of students during her career in academia.

In Missouri, she attended Stephens College (Missouri) and then the University of Missouri, where she earned her undergraduate degree. She later went on to earn both her Master’s degree and PhD from the University of Chicago. After completing her education, she had an interesting career! She began teaching at Stephens College in Missouri and then received a fellowship from the University of Chicago through which she spent two years in Italy, first at the Vatican School of Paleography and later at a Benedictine monastery where she translated archival documents from the original Latin.

Her teaching career took her to many other colleges: Carleton College (Minnesota), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Vassar College (New York), Scripps College (California), and Rollins College. After retiring from Rollins, a Fulbright Grant led her to the University of Madras (India). Following that, she was a Visiting Lecturer at both Sweet Briar College (Virginia), and St. Andrews College (North Carolina).

During her years in Winter Park, Ms. Drinkwater was an active member of several organizations: Board of Trustees for the Winter Park Public Library, the Friends of the Library, the Adult Literacy League, the Council for Continuing Education for Women, Church Women United, the United Nations Association, the Vassar College club, and Stephens College Alumni.

In her later years, her beloved Winter Park offered her an entire world . . . Rollins College, the First United Methodist Church, and the Winter Park Public Library . . . they were all only blocks from her home.

This article was written by former archivist, Barbara White, MLIS.

Dr. Geneva Drinkwater Oral History