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Nanon Lee Herren

She was the only female instructor, out of 600, at Beaune University, an American University located south of Dijon, France.  This university boasted of 10-15,000 students, a library of 40,000 books, classrooms, laboratories, gymnasium, vocational work areas and a medical school.  Amazingly it was assembled in a matter of weeks.  It was also known as the American Expeditionary Force School.

This educational institution was created virtually overnight to provide American forces with something constructive to do while waiting to be demobilized from combat duty in Europe after the Great War had ended.  The school lasted from February to June 1919. Herren taught dramatic expression.  She was an author and dramatist.

She was born July 13, 1879, in Lawrence. Except for brief times in Massachusetts and France, lived all her life in Kansas.  Her parents moved to Topeka when she was a few months old and she stayed.  She attended Washburn College and then the Curry School of Expression in Boston.  Briefly after graduation she toured the country giving dramatic interpretations and readings.  During the war she entertained the troops and was one of ten Americans selected afterwards to remain for the edification of the troops.  After that she taught at the university.

Back home in Topeka she had her own theater/studio to give instruction in drama.  She had written numerous skits and dialogues in Europe for her activities there, now she could produce them and wrote more.  She also rented out the studio for other events.

None of this provided a steady income, for that she relied on the Legal News, of which she was the initiator, owner and publisher.  She received first prize from Kansas Press Women for her play to promote the sale of war bonds.  She never married and lived with her sister.  Herren died in December 1948.  She was an independent Kansas woman who heard and marched to a different drummer.

Entry: Herren, Nanon Lee

Author: Duane L. Herrmann

Author information: Herrmann has degrees in education and history from Fort Hays State University. He has published widely on the history of the Bahai faith with publications now in a dozen countries in four languages. His history book By Thy Strengthening Grace received the Ferguson, Kansas, History Book Award in 2007. He has actively studied the Bahai faith since 1969.

Date Created: February 2017

Date Modified: November 2020

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.