(Aug. 5, 1876-Aug. 14, 1958). Mary Ritter was born into an affluent and education-minded Methodist family in Indianapolis. Her father, Eli Foster Ritter, was a lawyer with a strong temperance bent. Her mother, Narcissa Lockwood Ritter, had an academy education and taught school before their marriage.

The Ritters provided their six children a comfortable and secure suburban home in the then exclusive residential area on Central Avenue near the family church, Central Avenue Methodist. The Ritters’ involvement in church activities provided for Mary an atmosphere of social commitment and service that was reflected in her own later commitment to social activities and women’s rights.

Mary Ritter left home in 1893 to attend DePauw University. There she met Charles A. Beard, also from Indiana. She graduated in 1897 and taught school in the state until her marriage to Beard in 1900. Both Beards became prominent historians and published many works separately and together.

Mary Ritter Beard’s women’s rights activities are reflected in many of her writings, including Women’s Work In Municipalities (1915) and Woman As Force In History (1946). The best-known of the books she cowrote with her husband are The Rise Of American Civilization (1927) and Basic History Of The United States (1944), both widely used as college texts.

Revised February 2021

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