As you know, our time working on the City Beautiful Project is coming to a close. I have been researching Mira Lloyd Dock for my part of the project.
My research was fully conducted at the Pennsylvania State Archives. Searching through boxes of personal family papers, journals, reports, speeches and letters, it quickly became apparent that there was not an abundance of information on Dock before her pivotal “City Beautiful” speech. However, this also led to the opportunity to learn more about Dock than I would have had I been focusing on her earlier years.
Mira Dock was an active member of the Pennsylvania State Forestry Reservation Commission. Dock was the first woman in the Commission and the first woman in a governmental position in Pennsylvania. Dock was also a member of the State Federation of Pennsylvania Women and was an active proponent of women’s suffrage. Dock taught classes on botany and plant biology and often acted as a liaison between organizations such as the Civic Club and other local leaders. Many of these positions aided in, or came about as a result of, her work on the City Beautiful Movement.
I found only one thing that referred specifically to Dock’s “City Beautiful” speech – a letter from J. Horace McFarland, president of the Municipal League and President of the American Civic Association. The post script of the letter dated December 22, 1900 (two days after the speech was delivered) reads:
“Did I tell you that one man, whom I have always known to be extraordinarily tight with his money, stopped in and told me he was willing to be one of 50 men to give $200 each, provided the city would put up the other $10,000 to take up the work for Harrisburg you had in mind in the way of parks and playgrounds? That is the most practical evidence of the force of your presentation.”
Dock was a powerful leader and icon in the city of Harrisburg. I am confident that, even as my portion of the project comes to a close, we will continue to learn more about Dock and the great impact she had on Harrisburg and the City Beautiful movement.