Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Bertha Sheppard Adkins (1906-1983)
MSA SC 3520-13573

Biography:

Bertha Sheppard Adkins was born on August 24, 1906, in Salisbury, Maryland.  She grew up and went to school on the Eastern Shore, until the age of 15, when she was sent to preparatory school in in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.1   After graduating in 1924, Bertha went on to earn her AB degree from Wellesley College in 1928.  Immediately following college, she took a position as a teacher at a private elementary school, Miss Harold's School, where she remained until 1932.2

After teaching elementary school for about four years, she returned home to become a secretary at the family business, E.S. Adkins Lumber Company.3  For the enxt two years she continued working at home.  However, though she had previously sworn to her classmates that she would never teach or enter politics, she would eventually receive much recognition in both fields.4  Bertha's first venture into academics, after working as a secretary for at time, led her to become the Dean of Women at Western Maryland College.  She served in this positon from 1934 to 1942, leaving to take a job as Dean of residence at Bradford Junior College in Massachusetts.

In addition to her work in education, Adkins became known for her work in the realm of politics.  She quickly rose from local positions and involvement, to be appointed the Republican National Committewoman on behalf of the state of Maryland.5  From there her involvement only grew, eventually being appointed by several Presidents to various committee's.  Perhaps the most influential and significant of these postions was that of Under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare to the Eisenhower Administration.
 

Master's degree, Columbia University, 1943
Appointed Republican National Committeewoman for Maryland, 1948
Appointed Executive Director of the Women's Devision of the Republican National Committee, 1950
Chair of the Executive Committee to the Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission, appointed by President Eisenhower, 1957
Appointed by President Eisenhower as Under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), 1958
Head of Foxcroft School, Middleburg, Virginia, 1961-1967
Appointed by President Nixon to serveon the Task Force on the Problems of Aging, 1969
Served on President's Advisory Committee on Social Security, 1970
Advisory Committee on Older Americans, 1972
Federal Council on Aging, 1974-1978, (chair from 1974-1977)

Instituter of "Breakfasts with the President"
 

Sources:

1. <http://eisenhower.archives.gov/Research/Finding_Aids/PDFs/Adkins_Bertha_Papers.pdf> pgs 2-5
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Carol Stegman, "Bertha Sheppard Adkins," in Women of Achievement in Maryland History, (Forestville, MD: Anaconda Press, Inc., 2002), 367-368.
5. Ibid, 367.

Return to Bertha Sheppard Adkins's Introductory Page
 


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