“By 1918 Katharine Gibbs had three schools in cities with prestigious colleges. Brown in Providence, Harvard and MIT in Boston, and Columbia in New York provided lecturers for Gibbs and also appropriate escorts for her students.” Chapter 3
Katharine Gibbs became an important symbol of excellence. One example is the novel Scruples by Judith Krantz.
JUDITH KRANTZ WROTE ABOUT GIBBS EXCELLENCE.
In 1978 Judith Krantz used Katharine Gibbs School as a model of excellence in her first novel Scruples. Below is an excerpt from Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves.
“As Billy stepped off the elevator into the entrance of the Katharine Gibbs School, the first thing that met her eyes was the gaze of the late Mrs. Gibbs, preserved with all its stern, implacable presence in the portrait that hung over the receptionist’s desk. She did not look mean, thought Billy, only as if she knew all about you and had not decided whether to actively disapprove–yet. Out of the corner of her eyes she was aware that someone was stationed by the elevator door checking out each girl for gloves, hat, dress, and makeup, of which there must not be much.”
Scruples Judith Krantz
“Wilhelmina (Billy) Hunnewell Winthrop was the central character in Judith Krantz’s best-selling 1978 novel Scruples. She chose Katharine Gibbs School in New York over Wellesley and Smith because she wanted to be independent. A fictional descendant of Boston’s Puritan founder John Winthrop, Billy continued the mystique of Katharine Gibbs School as an elite school for the well born and the ambitious into the late twentieth century.
Billy was sure that her one year at Katie Gibbs had given her the training to be successful. When she was struggling, “within a day her reliable Katie Gibbs’ [sic] skills came back and all her frustrated desire to produce kept her on the job, alert and totally willing.” Billy’s boutique on Rodeo Drive was named Scruples in honor of Katharine Gibbs, a woman of scruples and excellence.” Two of my students said they came to Gibbs because of the picture of excellence painted by Judith Krantz.
Here is Judith Krantz’s obituary.