18 January 2021

Thelma Steward Beridon and Education Inequality

Continuing to explore the life of Thelma Steward Beridon (1898-1980) of SLC…

Typing class at LDS Business College ca 1905. From UDSH.
Note only White people in the photograph.

Shortly after Thelma died, her husband, Clarence Beridon, told an interesting story about Thelma during an oral history interview:

Clarence said that Thelma had a good head on her, she was very intelligent.

Thelma tried to enroll at LDS Business College, then located across from the SLC LDS Temple at 70 N Main St (where the current LDS Church Office Building is located).

The College had a program where men and women could go to school to learn business skills and when they finished, they could pay back the cost of school. At the time, the school guaranteed finding students’ jobs after they graduated.

The LDS Business College told Thelma that they would not accept her to the school because no one would hire her “because she was a colored woman,” as told by Clarence.

“She had a very good brain on her. It just wasn’t developed like it should have been. Like if she had been white it would have been different, see. She could have went on, see. They would have accepted her.” Clarence said in his oral history interview.

So instead of being able to learn typing and stenographer skills, Thelma was stuck doing domestic housework for others. She primarily worked for prominent SLC attorney Calvin A Behle (in addition to her NAACP volunteer work- see previous post).

Source: Oral History Interview with Clarence Beridon, interview 4-5, pages 11-13. From Marriot Library University of Utah.

LDS Business College 1961 before it was demolished. From UDSH.

Advertisement for LDS Business College,
From Salt Lake Tribune 1934-09-02

Advertisement for LDS Business College,
Deseret News 1932-09-21

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