Jean Bradford, Goucher College psychology professor, dies

Jean Bradford - Original Credit:
Jean Bradford - Original Credit:(HANDOUT)

Jean Bradford, a retired Goucher College psychology professor who was a co-founder of the college's women's studies and peace studies programs, died of complications from leukemia Dec. 28 at Keswick Multi-Care Center. The Cross Keys resident was 81.

Born in Minneapolis, she was the daughter of William Curran, a welder, and Fannie Barach, a bookkeeper. She earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Minnesota, from which she also received a doctorate in clinical child psychology.


She initially wanted to be a concert pianist and studied with a former director of La Scala in Milan. She also sang Irish ballads and workers' songs alongside her father.

In 1951, as a high school student, she met her future husband, Norman Bradford, when he was an assistant pastor at Minneapolis Trinity Independent Church.


"Her parents were dedicated communists and atheists," her husband said. "Jean was born a Jew and came to hear my sermon. I had hopes I could convert her. It had the opposite effect. I fell in love almost immediately, and she converted me. I left my religion and my church, and never looked back."

The couple married in 1957.

"We became activists and socialists," said her husband.

In 1963, she moved to Baltimore and worked in clinical child psychology at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

She joined the Goucher faculty in 1966.

Her husband recalled her openness and her passion for learning.

"She loved life and had a deep regard for justice," he said, adding that she dressed in flowing dresses and never appeared without well-coiffed hair and polished nails. "She did not fit a college professor stereotype. She looked more like an actress."

"We once spent five hours at the John Eager Howard Room as Jean smoked her mini-cigars," said Goucher College philosophy professor John Rose. "We'd sit down, and she'd tell the waiter, 'We're going to be here for hours, but don't worry, we'll tip well.' And then when the bill came, and she was ready to leave, she left a 100 percent tip."

Dr. Rose recalled that Dr. Bradford had a standing weekly appointment at an Anneslie beauty salon.

"I remember her as glamorous, fiercely intellectual and extremely committed to her students, many of whom remember her as a very important influence in their lives," said Goucher librarian Nancy Magnuson.

A statement from the college said that upon her 25th anniversary at Goucher, a student told her, "You made it OK to be female, emotional, smart, and different."

She taught the works of Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell and psychiatrist R.D. Laing.


Dr. Bradford took a sabbatical to work and study with Dr. Laing in London from 1973 to 1974.

"She could also be highly critical of the field of psychology," said Richard Pringle, a Goucher psychology professor. "She was very well trained in psychology, and she was very embedded in that discipline, but she really occupied it in an interdisciplinary way. So she was constantly working on the boundaries of the field and challenging the rest of us to think critically as well."

Dr. Bradford's interests in subjects outside traditional psychology led to her involvement in the founding of Goucher's women's studies and peace studies programs. She also worked in dance movement therapy.

"Women's studies was part of her soul," her husband said. "She helped get the program going, and she taught it with fire and with wisdom."

"She was a very intelligent woman," Marianne Githens, a retired Goucher professor, said in a statement provided by the college. "She knew who she was, and — in some respects, more importantly — she wanted her students to know who they were. Not who they should be, or what other people wanted them to be, but what they wanted to be."

Colleagues said Dr. Bradford, who happened to be a good typist, advised her female students not to list on their resumes that they could type. She refused to embrace computers and suggested they were a dehumanizing force. She had her husband type students' grades into the Goucher computer system.

In 1980, when facilities workers at Goucher went on strike for higher wages and benefits, Dr. Bradford refused to cross the picket line. She joined the striking workers at the college's entrance.

Dr. Bradford retired from the college in 2006.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. April 15 in the Hyman Forum of the Athenaeum on the Goucher campus.

Survivors include her husband of 59 years, a retired University of Maryland School of Medicine child psychologist; and a daughter, Lisa L. Bradford of Lutherville.

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