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Davis, Hallie Flanagan

Hallie Flanagan Davis

Hallie Flanagan Davis was born on August 27, 1890 in Redfield, South Dakota. Her parents were Frederic Miller and Louise (Fisher) Ferguson. Davis got her BA at Grinell College (Grinell, Iowa) in 1911. In 1924, she earned her Masters from Radcliffe College. She had two short-lived marriages, both of which ended due to her husbands’ death. The first, in 1912, was to John Murray Flanagan, who died in 1919. The second, in 1934, was to Phillip Haldane Davis, who died in 1940. Davis had two children and three step children.

In 1924-1925, Hallie Flanagan Davis was an Associate Professor at Grinell College, and the founder of the Experimental Theater. From 1925 until 1942, Davis was a professor at Vassar College, where she also founded and directed the Experimental Theater. In 1935, she was asked to head the Federal Theater Project, which was part of the New Deal’s W.P.A. She served as the head of the project until its end. In 1942, she accepted Smith College’s offer to serve as Dean and a professor in the Drama Department. She resigned from her position as Dean in 1946 so that she could focus on the Drama Department, of which she was the chair, and on the Theater, of which she was the director. Davis retired from Smith in 1955. In 1962, the Studio Theater in Smith’s new Center for the Performing Arts was named in her honor. She died on July 23, 1969.

Flanagan Davis’ writings include: Arena, Shifting Scenes in the Modern European Theater, and Dynamo, the Story of the Vassar Theater. Her plays include: The Curtain, and E-mc2.

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