Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Boston Vocation Bureau's First Counseling Staff

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Boston Vocation Bureau's First Counseling Staff

Article excerpt

Although much has been written about Frank Parsons, the founder of the vocational guidance movement, little is known about the 1st counseling staff of the Vocation Bureau. Lucinda Wyman Prince, Ralph Albertson, and Philip Davis each deserve recognition for their role in founding vocation guidance as well as their civic contributions. This article describes the roles and contribution of the profession's 1st counselors.

Much has been written about Frank Parsons's role in the founding of Boston's Vocation Bureau. Written shortly before his death in 1908, a letter in the Yale archives highlighted Parsons's handing over legal power of attorney to Ralph Albertson (Parsons, 1908a). Something else is found in this piece of history conspicuously tucked into the upper, left corner of the handwritten note. Listed in the margin of the Vocation Bureau's letterhead, along with the executive committee and trustees, are the names of the first counseling staff of the Vocation Bureau and its three satellite offices. Mrs. John T Prince or Lucinda Wyman Prince, Albertson, and Philip Davis all carried the tide of "Associate Counsellor" (Parsons, 1908a, p. 1). Albertson was the most well known of the trio because of his close association with Parsons as a confidant and literary executor. Davis received brief mention from time to time, and Prince was but a mere footnote in counseling literature. Yet, Prince, Albertson, and Davis were each highly successful, well-respected individuals with their own significant contributions to vocational guidance as well as other movements. Whether through genius, luck, or a combination of both, Parsons enjoyed the good fortune of this vibrant and capable trio: the educator, the dreamer, and the immigrant. At the 100th anniversary of both the bureau's founding and its founder's passing, perhaps the field is now ready for a more in-depth look at the individuals who worked side by side with Parsons operationalizing a vision and cementing a legacy.

Lucinda Wyman Prince: The Educator

Prince was arguably the first female counselor, one of the three original "Associate Counsellors" listed for the Vocation Bureau (Zytowski, 2001). However, there was much more to Prince than her distinction of being involved with the Vocation Bureau. Like Parsons, Prince was a visionary and a most talented educator.

Prince was born in 1862 in Waltham, Massachusetts. She was trained as a teacher at Framingham State Normal School, with further education at Wellesley College. She spent some time studying in Germany where she observed the continuation school model of education (Marquis, 1916; Norton, 1917). Prior to her association with the Women's Educational and Industrial Union (WEIU), she worked as a school administrator. In 1893, she lived in residence at Denison Settlement House, which was located in the South End of Boston, serving immigrant families (Denison House, 1913).

Highly aware of social issues affecting women, Prince became an active member of the WEIU in Boston, a beacon of social justice, providing a variety of services to working women with limited resources. The staff offered legal consultation and aid, vocational guidance and placement, and a number of educational programs, the most popular of which was the Union School of Salesmanship founded and directed by Prince (Potter, 1998).

While serving as a leader for a club of 50 young women at the WEIU, most of whom held low-paying jobs at department stores, Prince became interested in salesmanship (Norton, 1917). Lacking the appropriate training, the young women had little chance of advancing to better paying, more respectable positions. Prince decided to develop a training program on retail selling with the hope that it would rectify the situation. In 1905, she established a salesmanship training program through the WEIU (Gordon, 1999; Lynch, 1983; Norton, 1917; Riggle, 1998), without fully realizing the challenges awaiting her. …

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