“How fortunate I was to have such a loving, optimistic, hard-working aunt who had – as one of her pet words – gumption,” said Virginia Voigt Wenger when she established the Shirley Mitchell Duckwall Scholarship.
The scholarship is for a USAO student who wishes to be an elementary school teacher.
“Shirley Abigail Mitchell was 15 when she let down her skirts and put up her hair to teach in the rural country schools of Northern Grady County in the early 1900s. (I have a cousin who said she was 12 but I do believe she was older).
“At that time, one-room schools were prevalent in rural Oklahoma. One teacher taught all subjects to students in all eight grades in one room and usually boarded in the community. Requirements for teaching were minimal. A high school education was not necessary. Shirley took a teacher training program at Central State Normal School in Edmond and entered the classroom,” Wenger said.
“In addition to teaching, she was the janitor, stoked the stove, planned and directed student holiday presentations for parents and the community and held pie suppers and box suppers to raise money for the school.
“She taught until 1916 when she married Clyde Duckwall of Tuttle. They had one son and Shirley was a full-time homemaker. Her interests included genealogical societies and clubs at Tuttle and the Epworth Methodist Church. She enjoyed quilting and made many applique and piecework quilts, one for each of her many nieces and nephews. She kept five-year diaries which today are a wealth of information about living in Tuttle and Chickasha in the 30s and 40s.
“On September 15, 1942, Shirley decided to follow in the footsteps of her younger sister, Adda Mitchell Voigt, and came to OCW to work on a degree in elementary education. She went summers, took correspondence courses and carried up to 18 hours of courses per semester,” Wenger said.
“I am still a student in OCW after waiting for 30 years for this chance. I still think it is a very lovely thing. I enjoy it so much,” Duckwall said in her diary in 1943. She was 53.
“So cold and raw and I have five blocks to walk to the campus. Oklahoma College for Women is one grand college but it has been strange for me to come back (to school) after 25 years,” she said on her diary on December 14, 1943.
Shirley Abigail Mitchell Duckwall graduated from OCW in 1945 and received a master’s degree from Oklahoma State University.
After her graduation from OCW, she taught the fifth grade in the Midwest City Schools until her retirement. Back to Scholarship Page