University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Lura Beam collection, 1934-1990

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection includes reviews, a historical society booklet, a photocopy of “Contemporary American Novel” written by Beam and a copy of a story published in The Yale Review.

Biographical/Historical Note

Lura Beam was born in Marshfield, Maine, in 1887. She attended the University of California, Berkeley (1904-1906), and graduated from Barnard College in 1908. In 1917, she earned an M.A. from Columbia. She worked at the American Missionary Association (AMA) for three years as a teacher at two schools: the Gregory Normal Institute in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the LeMoyne Normal School in Memphis, Tennessee, before becoming AMA’s assistant superintendent of education in charge of the Deep South. In this position she visited schools and colleges throughout the South and reported on the most successful teachers and programs to all AMA schools so they could improve their quality of education.

Research for her Art in the Liberal College, a study of art curricula in seven colleges, provided a basis for her later work for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), where Beam organized and mounted art exhibitions and surveys of community art projects. Beam also worked for the National Committee on Maternal Health (1927-1933), the General Education Board in New York City, and a federal research project in industrial unemployment. After retiring in 1952, Beam continued to write and organize art exhibitions; she also compiled information on aging and retirement. In 1957, she published the book A Maine Hamlet about her small hometown of Marshfield, Maine. She died in 1978.