Gertrude Webb’s compassion for struggling students led her to found programs for teaching both children and adults with learning disabilities. During her first year of teaching in the Boston Public School system, Webb became attuned to learning disabilities when a bright student was unable to translate his ideas into writing. She contacted experts and began her own exploration of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, continuing her pursuits even after she left teaching to raise her six children. After a twenty-year hiatus, Webb returned to education, teaching at Curry College and earning a doctorate from Boston College. She founded both the Massachusetts Association for Children with Disabilities and the Program for Advancement in Learning for adults. The learning center at Curry College was renamed the Gertrude M. Webb Learning Center in her honor. After her retirement from Curry College in 1993, she continued to lecture and train teachers around the world, and served as president of the Webb International Center for Dyslexia, an educational consulting organization founded by some of her former students. Gertrude Webb was honored at the 2002 Women Who Dared event in Boston.
Gertrude Webb, a Boston native, discusses her childhood, education, family background, and Jewish identity. She grew up in Roxbury and attended Girls Latin School. She graduated from the Teachers College of the City of Boston in 1937 and becomes a teacher. Webb talks about her family's immigrant background and their Jewish identity. She describes her parents' observance of Jewish rituals and their kosher home. She also mentions her family's involvement in the Zionist movement. Webb's interest in learning disabilities and dyslexia developed during her teaching career. She noticed a student with exceptional abstract thinking skills but significant difficulties in written language. This sparked her curiosity and led her to explore language learning difficulties. She became involved in establishing the Massachusetts Association for Children with Learning Disabilities and later worked at Curry College, where she developed a program for students with dyslexia. Webb's work focused on helping students with learning disabilities and dyslexia through education and visual arts. She retired from Curry College in 1993 but continued volunteering and assisting individuals with learning difficulties through The Webb International Center for Dyslexia. Webb expresses her ongoing commitment to her work and helping others, regardless of age or background, who seek assistance with learning disabilities. She emphasizes the moral beliefs she incorporates into her work, often without being aware of it, influenced by her Jewish heritage. Webb also discusses her family, including her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Gertrude Webb. Interviewed by Judith Rosenbaum. 15 January 2002. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/webb-gertrude>.
Oral History of Gertrude Webb by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.