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Hewes, Dorothy W. | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Hewes, Dorothy W.

Historical Note:

Dr. Dorothy W. Hewes, Professor Emeritus at San Diego State University in the Family Studies and Consumer Sciences department was a prolific early childhood educator, leader, and historian during the last half of the 20th century. She was the co-author of one of the first preschool administration textbooks and was known as the “Mother of the History of Early Childhood Education.”

Born in 1922 in Illinois, Dr. Hewes' early education was based on Friedrich Froebel's principles of individuality. Later she would join her mother and grandmother in utilizing Froebel's teachings in early childhood clinics and as a professor. Dr. Hewes started her writing accomplishments with her review of The Bobbsey Twins, published in 1930 when she was just eight years old.  During World War II in March 1943, Dr. Hewes received her Bachelor's degree in Institution Management from the College of Home Economics at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa. After graduating she joined the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, became a mess sergeant, and learned to work within a highly regimented system.

After World War II, utilizing the GI Bill, she began studying child development at the University of California at Berkley, eventually earning a MBA degree in marketing and a Ph.D. degree in Early Childhood Education and History of Education from Union Graduate School, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Her doctoral dissertation illustrated William Hailmann, an educator who furthered Froebel's theories.

Two years into her studies, Dr. Hewes attended the 1947 Annual Conference of the National Association for Nursery Education that was later known as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Thereafter, she became involved with the NAEYC on the local, state, and national levels, including serving on both the NAEYC Governing Board and the California AEYC Board. In California she was the state AEYC legislative chair and became the Historian of the San Diego AEYC. In 1972 she founded the NAEYC Annual Conference History Seminar and moderated its annual meetings for 29 years until 2001. She was also a representative at the International Organization for Early Childhood Education and supported the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

During this time of service in the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Hewes taught in Southern Californian schools and childcare centers. Specifically, in 1952 she co-founded Bakersfield Play Center because she wanted her son to have a progressive nursery school. Due to the lack of training for administrators in the field, Dr. Hewes co-authored with Barbara Hartman, Early Childhood Education: A Workbook for Administrators, which was published in 1972. Seven years later in 1979, she also published Administration, Making Programs Work for Children and Families and 25 years after that in 2004, drawing on a lifetime of experience, she published An Administrator's Guidebook to Early Care and Education Programs.

Dr. Hewes became a professor in the Department of Child and Family Development (now Family Studies and Consumer Sciences) at San Diego State University in 1974, a position she held for 18 years until 1992, after which she became a Professor Emeritus. The department was originally part of the Home Economics course track at SDSU, but as women and caretakers role's changed through the 1970s, Dr. Hewes modeled the curriculum to better represent the development of parenting skills.  Beginning in 1985, she served as the faculty adviser to the on-campus Children's Center until she retired in 2011.  Hewes taught innovative courses in early childhood education, parenting skills, and domesticity.  She was also extremely involved with the San Diego County Employee's Child Care Center which she helped found in 1981.  She was deeply concerned about providing adequate child care and education for County working parents.

Over the years her published writings became increasingly concerning the historical perspective, including: The Froebelian Kindergarten as an International Movement (1980), Pestalozzi: Foster Father of Early Childhood Education (1992), NAEYC's First Half Century 1926-1976 (1996), and It's the Camaraderie: A History of Parent Cooperative Preschools (1998). Her dissertation, W.N. Hailmann: Defender of Froebel, also was published in 2001.  In 2008, the International Froebel Society honored Dr. Hewes with their Lifetime Achievement Award for being “an inspiration to countless students, teachers and scholars,” and for having “enhanced the learning of generations of young children.”

On January 30, 2013, Dr. Hewes died at the age of 90 years. In her honor, a Dorothy Hewes Graduate Student Scholarship Fund was established through the San Diego AEYC.

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