Helen Taft Manning

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Helen Taft with her father, US President William Howard Taft.

Helen Herron Taft Manning (August 1, 1891 – February 21, 1987) was an American professor of history and college dean. She was the middle child and only daughter of U.S. President William Howard Taft and his wife Helen Herron.

Like her older brother Robert and younger brother Charles, Helen was a high achiever. She fulfilled goals that her mother had been denied by the social restrictions placed on women of her mother's time. Helen earned a scholarship to attend Bryn Mawr College. She was a student at Bryn Mawr when her father became President.

Her studies were interrupted for some time when her mother suffered a stroke, and was left an invalid. Helen moved into the White House with her family, and helped her mother to regain body movement and speech. She also served as official hostess for many White House functions while her mother was disabled. In December, 1910, Helen was given a debutante party at the White House.

After her mother recovered, Helen resumed her studies at Bryn Mawr. She graduated in 1915 with a bachelor's degree in history. In 1917, aged only 26, she became Dean of the College, and served as acting president in 1919.

She then attended Yale University, where she earned a doctorate in history. In 1925, she returned to Bryn Mawr as Dean and professor of history. She served as Dean until 1941, and taught history until her retirement in 1957, having become head of the department.

She was a suffragette, and traveled the country, giving speeches in support of the vote for women and women's rights.

On July 15, 1920, she married Yale history professor Frederick Johnson Manning (1894-1966), who then moved to Swarthmore College. The Mannings had two daughters: Helen Taft Manning (1921-2013) and Caroline Manning (born 1925). Helen died in 1987 at 95 of pneumonia.[1]

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