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Kite, Elizabeth Sarah (1864–1954) - French-American History

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Elizabeth Sarah Kite, a Quaker, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1864. Her parents are not mentioned in references, but it is known she attended a Quaker boarding school in Westchester, Chester County, Pennsylvania, before studying in England, France, Germany, and Switzerland for six years. While studying in England in 1906, Kite was baptized a Catholic. Upon her return, she taught in a number of private schools in Pennsylvania, California, and Massachusetts. From 1912 to 1918 she participated in psychological research at Vineyard, New Jersey, at the Training School for Mental Defectives. She also contributed research to The Kallikak Family: A Social Security Survey of the People of the Pines by Henry H. Goddard and translated Binet-Simon’s Development of Intelligence in Children and Intelligence of the Feeble-minded .

During this time, Kite also began researching French topics and began publishing her own historical volumes, starting with Beaumarchais and the War of American Independence in 1917. In 1929 she wrote L’Enfant and Washington , and in 1931 Correspondence of General Washington and Compte de Grasse was published. In 1933 she wrote Lebegre Duportail, Comdt. of Engineers, 1777–1783 and became the first laywoman to receive the degree of doctor of literature at Villanova. The next year, she wrote Lafayette and His Companions in the Victorie , followed by The Catholic Part in the Making of America in 1936, which dealt with the policy of Louis XVI and his minister of foreign affairs in aiding America’s fight for independence.

Kite, who had a study room in the Library of Congress for years, was instrumental in placing photostats of documents from the French Revolution in the library. For this she was awarded the Cross of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. She was also archivist for the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia. Elizabeth Kite died on January 6, 1954, in Wilmington, Delaware.

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