Dorothy Waldo
Dorothy Waldo

Dorothy Waldo, principal of Dana Hall from 1932 to 1938, graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1908 and taught in preparatory schools in Massachusetts prior to coming to Dana Hall. In 1919, Miss Waldo came to Dana as an executive assistant to Helen Temple Cooke, principal of Dana Hall from 1899 to 1938. In 1925, Miss Cooke named Miss Waldo Associate Principal and in 1932, Principal and Associate Head of Dana Hall Schools. Miss Waldo had a warm personality and the ability to put her students at ease. In the spring of 1920, the sophomores made her an honorary member of their class; in 1922, as seniors, they dedicated their Senior Year Book to her in loving appreciation for her wise guidance, friendly co-operation and never-failing, helpful spirit. Dorothy Currier 1921 remembered that if you wanted to have an informal talk with Miss Waldo you only had to suggest, “How about going down to the Village for a Sundae?” Miss Waldo would give her schedule a quick glance, put on her hat and gloves, and off you would go. She had unending patience, a real understanding of each girl and made a difference in the lives of her students.

Miss Waldo also had a keen intellect. Augusta Gottfried, a faculty member of the History Department from 1927 to 1960, remembered “[the mental acumen] she showed in the speed with which she grasped new ideas and the ease of her handling of practical problems. She went to the essentials without hesitation and the important details fell into place so readily that I could only admire.” Miss Waldo was an accomplished musician. Playing her viola was her great love and a source of relaxation. She played with the school orchestra and in a string ensemble.

Miss Waldo was famous for her Traditions Book. She recorded many of Dana’s customs and traditions and the book was kept in the custody of the senior president. Many items were covered, from allowance, callers and football games, to swimming, tearooms and victrolas. No girl was ever permitted to go to a football game in an automobile with a young man. They had to take the train from Wellesley to South Station where they could meet their escorts. Students were permitted to enter an approved Wellesley tearoom only between the hours of 3:00 and 4:30 pm. McKenney’s, Sheehan’s, The Hole in the Wall, and the Wellesley Inn were tearooms which did not meet with Miss Waldo’s approval. Victrolas and radios were not permitted in the school. Electrical apparatuses of any sort were absolutely forbidden because of the great danger of fire in the school’s wood frame buildings. Miss Waldo’s Traditions Book is in the Dana Hall Archives if you are interested in reading more about this fascinating time in Dana Hall’s history.

In 1936 Miss Waldo took a leave of absence, and completed her Doctorate in Education from Harvard University in 1937. From 1939 until her retirement in 1952, she was a member of the faculty of the New Jersey College for Women, now Douglass College, the women’s college of Rutgers University. Her resignation in 1938 from Dana Hall “left a lonesome place against the sky for Miss Cooke, the faculty, and the students.” An alumna felt that “[Miss Waldo] radiates all that we love in Dana Hall.”


Dorothy Waldo, photograph. Dana Hall Archives, Wellesley, MA.

Gittfried, Augusta. “A Tribute to Miss Dorothy Waldo.” The Dana Hall Bulletin. October 1960: 7.

Post, Winifred Lowry. Purpose and Personality. Wellesley, MA: Dana Hall School, 1978.

Senior Year Book 1922. Wellesley, MA: Dana Hall School, 1922.

Waldo, Dorothy. Traditions Book. Wellesley, MA: Dana Hall Archives.

Originally published as Person of the Week, December 5, 2005