Dorothy Elmhirst

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Biographical Information

"Dorothy Payne Whitney, daughter of William C. Whitney, a financier and Secretary of the Navy under President Grover Cleveland, married Willard Dickerman Straight in 19ll. Straight died in 1918, and she married Leonard Knight Elmhirst in 1925. Dorothy and Elmhirst purchased Dartington Hall, Devon, England, reconstructed the 14th century manor and founded a school on the property. Dartington Hall became a center for the arts and a leading coeducational progressive school. The New School for Social Research in New York was begun with the backing of the Whitney Estate in 1919. Dorothy was involved with the New York State Food Commission, the Women's Liberty Loan Committee, the Social Unit Plan, the Junior League, the War Camp Service Committee, the Women's Emergency Committee of the European Relief Council, the New School for Social Research, the Tuberculosis Preventorium for Children, the Pueblos Defense Committee, and the Mayor's Committee of Women on National Defense. She supported individual students at Bordentown Military Academy and Hobart College, and helped to found The New Republic. "[1]

Her daughter is Michael Straight.


  • Rauchway, E., "A Gentleman's Club in a Woman's Sphere: How Dorothy Whitney Straight Created the New Republic," Journal of Women's History, 11(2), 1999, pp. 60 -85.
  • Rachel Harrison, Dorothy Elmhirst and the Visual Arts at Dartington Hall, 1925-45, Unpublished PhD thesis, Plymouth University, 2002.

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