Catherine Shouse

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Catherine Shouse (Filene)

Also Known As: "Dodd"
Birthplace: Boston, MA, USA
Death: Died in Naples, FL, USA
Cause of death: heart failure
Immediate Family:

Daughter of A. (Abraham) Lincoln Filene and Thérèse Estelle Filene
Wife of Jouett Shouse, US Congress
Ex-wife of Alvin Earl Dodd
Mother of Private User and <private> Tolley (Dodd)
Sister of Helen Ladd

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Catherine Shouse

Catherine Filene Shouse (June 9, 1896 – December 14, 1994) was a researcher and philanthropist. She graduated in 1918 from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.[1] She worked for the Women's Division of the U.S. Employment Service of the Department of Labor, and the Democratic National Committee. She was also the editor of the Woman's National Democratic Committee's Bulletin (1929–32), and the first woman to chair the Federal Prison for Women Board. Finally, she was a strong supporter of the arts, and served as chair of the President's Music Committee's Person-to-Person Program (1957–1963). In 1966 she donated her personal property, Wolf Trap Farm, to the National Park Service. This farm would go on to become Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

In 1977, Catherine Shouse was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Gerald Ford, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1994. In 2007, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.


A philanthropist and patron of the arts, Catherine Filene Shouse is best remembered for her establishment of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts. It was because of her significant donations of family land in 1961 and 1966, that this one-of-kind center exists today. She later funded an amphitheater on the site named the Filene Center, in honor of her Boston retailing family.

Catherine Filene was born in Boston in 1896 and graduated from Wheaton College in 1918. As a result of her college efforts to promote jobs for educated women, she was hired by the Women's Division of the Employment Service of the United States Department of Labor. She later enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and in 1923 became the recipient of the school's first degree awarded to a woman.

In 1921, Catherine married economist Alvin Dodd, whom she later divorced. In 1931, she married Jouett Shouse, a former congressman from Kansas. During her residence in the nation's capital, Shouse became active in Democratic Party politics and was the first woman ever appointed to the Democratic National Committee.

In 1926, President Calvin Coolidge appointed her the first chairwoman of the first federal prison for women. There, she used her educational background to establish a job-training program for prisoners.

During the next 20 years she developed a highly successful dog-breeding kennel at Wolf Trap and at the same time became very involved in the music and cultural scene in Washington. She was on the board of the National Symphony Orchestra, serving as vice-president for 17 years. 

In 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her to the first board of the National Cultural Center, now the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where she served for more than 20 years. Her many years of philanthropic support of the arts earned Shouse fourteen honorary Doctor of Humanities, Law, Letters, and Music degrees, as well as innumerable citations and awards including Dame Commander of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II. The highest U.S. civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was awarded to Shouse in 1977 by President Gerald R. Ford. In her later years, Shouse, was often seen touring the grounds of her lasting legacy. More than half a million people now visit Wolf Trap annually.

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Catherine Shouse's Timeline

June 9, 1896
Boston, MA, USA
December 14, 1994
Age 98
Naples, FL, USA