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Shideler, Mary McDermott, 1917-2000



  • Existence: 1917 - 2000


Mary Katharine McDermott was born on June 17, 1917 in Topeka, Kansas to Katharine Stewart McDermott and George Thomas McDermott. McDermott was the middle child, with an older sister, Jane (Hergeneter), and a younger brother, James, who was killed during World War II. McDermott's father was a Federal District Court Judge. He raised his children to be aware of social justice causes and how these causes became political issues affected by public policy. Close to her father, his sudden death in 1937 at age fifty affected McDermott profoundly. McDermott attended the Topeka public schools. She then attended Swarthmore College where she majored in psychology and minored in philosophy and zoology. McDermott graduated from Swarthmore College in 1938, earning a BA with honors in Mathematics and Natural Science. From 1939-1942, McDermott attended the Chicago Theological Seminary. She then attended Pendle Hill, a Quaker center for graduate study. After years of studying, writing and lecturing on issues regarding religious theology, philosophy and psychology, McDermott received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary in 1971. McDermott married Emerson Wayne Shideler on June 8, 1940. At the time Emerson Shideler was a minister, and Mary Shideler assumed the role of minister's wife in small towns in Virginia, Nebraska and Kansas. When Emerson Shideler accepted a faculty position at Iowa State University in 1950, the couple moved to Ames, Iowa. After Emerson Shideler's retirement they moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1971 and built a home in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Divorced on October 26, 1983, Mary Shideler continued to live in the Colorado home until her death on June 28, 2000. Shideler was a prolific writer throughout her life, publishing articles in both theological and psychology journals, along with stories, poetry, and books. After her divorce, facing life as a single, older woman, Shideler set out to write her autobiography. The result was a five-volume series entitled, Visions and Nightmares, Ends and Beginnings. For several years Shideler corresponded with Peter Ossorio (founder of the Society for Descriptive Psychology) whom she considered a mentor. Shideler was a member of Theta Sigma Phi and the Colonial Dames of America. She also served as president of the American Theological Society (1976-1977), president of the Society for Descriptive Psychology (1981-1982), and editor of The Descriptive Psychology Bulletin (1978-1979). Mary McDermott Shideler was a noted theologian, psychologist, writer, friend and committed feminist. Following her father's earlier guidance, Shideler was vocal in her opinions on such topics as abortion rights, education, global warming and the right to die.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Mary McDermott Shideler papers

Identifier: IWA0404

Theologian, writer and lecturer whose work encompassed religious theology, philosophy and psychology.

Dates: 1900-2000