Bernice C. Downing

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Bernice C. Downing
Bernice C. Downing.png
Downing in 1932
Born 1878 (1878)
Newark, Missouri, US
Died September 26, 1940 (aged 61–62)
Santa Clara, California
Nationality American
Occupation Newspaper editor and publisher, postmaster

Bernice C. Downing (1878 – September 26, 1940) was an American newspaper publisher and editor, postmaster, and speaker. She and her twin sister, Bertha C. Downing, were the first women in California to own, edit, and publish their own newspaper, the Santa Clara Journal.

Early life

Bernice C. Downing was born in 1878 in Newark, Missouri, the daughter of Nathan Hall and Ida R. Downing.[1] The Downings were pioneer residents of Santa Clara, California, where they moved in 1886.[2]

Career

Newspaper editor and publisher

Bernice C. Downing was an editor and newspaper publisher. With her twin sister, Bertha C. Downing (1878–1925), they were the first women in California to own, edit, and publish their own newspaper, having inherited the Santa Clara Journal from their father upon his death in 1905 when they were 17 years old.[1][3][4] They transformed the Santa Clara Journal from a free press to a paying proposition.[5]

Postmaster

She was appointed postmaster of Santa Clara in 1922 by President Warren G. Harding, and was reappointed to office in 1927 by President Calvin Coolidge.[1] She held this position for 12 years.[6] She founded and edited the California Postmaster, the official organ of the postmasters' association.[7][8] She then became hostess of the Mission Trails building at Treasure Island until 1940, a few months before her death.[9]

Speaker

In 1937 she spoke in front of the Soroptimists Club about her travels through Europe, the talk "Cargo Cruising".[7][10] She also spoke in front of the Women's Luncheon Club on the subjects "On a Freighter to Europe" and "Rural England".[6][7] Downing spent eight months with one suitcase and a typewriter first aboard a freighter and then in Europe and England. She told how she was refused entrance to Italy having applied for a visa as a "journalist".[11]

In 1938 she spoke in front of the Santa Cruz Business and Professional Women's Club. Also in 1938 she was appointed official hostess and director of personnel for the Mission Trails Building at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.[3]

In 1940, a few months before her death, she remembered her twin sister, who had died in 1925, in a speech to the Soroptimists Club.[9]

Affiliations and memberships

She held several offices in, and was president of, the state association and national vice-president of the League of American Pen Women. She was also California vice-president of the National Editorial Association.[1][6][7] In 1930 she became national secretary of the League of American Pen Women.[12]

In 1927, she won a specially created prize from the Omaha Chamber of Commerce for the best paper written on a tour of Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota. This contest was open to all members of the National Editorial Association.[1] In 1928 she won third prize in The National Editorial Association contest with the piece "Tennessee's Hydroelectric Power Possibilities and the Advantages of Its Development by Private Capital".[13]

She was a member of the California Press Association[1] and secretary of the Santa Clara County Consolidated Chamber of Commerce.[7]

In 1936 she was the leader of a Troop sponsored by the Thousand Oaks Parent-Teacher Association.[14]

For several years she was a member of the Santa Clara County Republican Committee.[1]

Personal life

Downing lived at 1516 Franklin St., Santa Clara, California.[1] She died on September 26, 1940, and is buried at Oak Hill Memorial Park in San Jose.[15][16]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A (1928). Women of the West; a series of biographical sketches of living eminent women in the eleven western states of the United States of America. p. 38. Retrieved 8 August 2017.  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "01 Mar 1921, Tue • Page 8". Santa Cruz Evening News: 8. 1921. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "Local Club Representatives Attend B.P.W. Dinner Meet; Bernice Downing Is Speaker – 12 Oct 1938, Wed • Page 4". Santa Cruz Evening News: 4. 1938. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  4. ^ "Bernice Downing Dies In San Jose – 27 Sep 1940, Fri • Page 6". Santa Cruz Evening News: 6. 1940. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  5. ^ "Miss Bernice Downing Dies in San Jose – 27 Sep 1940, Fri • Page 6". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 6. 1940. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c "Miss Bernice Downing Guest Speaker at Women's Luncheon Club – 24 Oct 1937, Sun • Page 5". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 5. 1937. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Women's Clubs To Hear Bernice Downing In Travel Talks This Week – 26 Oct 1937, Tue • Page 5". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 5. 1937. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  8. ^ "Postmasters' "Squadron" Off for Tour of South – 07 Apr 1932, Thu • Page 2". Oakland Tribune: 2. 1932. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  9. ^ a b "Soroptimist Club Observes Press Day; Bernice Downing Tells Newspaper Experience – 17 Jan 1940, Wed • Page 3". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 3. 1940. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  10. ^ "Soroptimists To Hear Travel Talk Tuesday – 24 Oct 1937, Sun • Page 5". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 5. 1937. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  11. ^ "Miss Bernice Downing and Mrs. Ada Walworth Entertain Women's Luncheon Club – 28 Oct 1937, Thu • Page 5". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 5. 1937. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  12. ^ "California League Favors Norris for National Leader – 05 Mar 1930, Wed • Page 8". Santa Cruz Evening News: 8. 1930. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  13. ^ "Pen Woman Receives Coveted Editorial Award - 14 Nov 1928, Wed • Page 8". The Press Democrat: 8. 1928. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  14. ^ "Berkeley – 01 Nov 1936, Sun • Page 35". Oakland Tribune: 35. 1936. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  15. ^ "28 Sep 1940, Sat • Page 7". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 7. 1940. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
  16. ^ "Attend Funeral of Miss Bernice Downing – 29 Sep 1940, Sun • Page 3". Santa Cruz Sentinel: 3. 1940. Retrieved 17 September 2017. 
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