chapter  22
14 Pages

Helen Herron Taft

Helen grew up to be headstrong, assertive, and impatient with the strictures of nineteenth-century life. She wanted to emulate her many distinguished forebears. In an era when most professions were closed to women, Nellie hoped to attain financial independence by writing critical works on art or music. Her parents encouraged her to attend her father's alma mater, Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. An eager and dedicated student, Helen studied German, literature, history, and the sciences. After graduation she considered becoming a lawyer. She spent long afternoons in her father's office, familiarizing herself with the law by perusing the books on his shelves and helping him with his work. She learned to formulate and defend her opinions, to appreciate politics and jurisprudence, and to relish intellectual conundrums. Nellie, however, was shy and had to work hard to surmount feelings of insecurity, especially where her appearance was concerned.