The Only Woman Who Conducts a Radio School

By H. O. Bishop

Miss Mary Texanna Loomis, of Washington, D.C., has the distinction of being the only woman in the world who conducts a radio school. There is nothing faddish nor experimental about Miss Loomis' educational institution. It is already a distinct success and is known throughout the world. Bright young men who have graduated from the Loomis Radio School can today be found on vessels plying the seven seas of the world. 

"How did you happen to get the idea of starting a radio school?" I asked Miss Loomis.

"There were two reasons why I launched into this fascinating work," she replied. "In the early stages of the World War, I was eager to do something useful for my country and therefore mastered wireless telegraphy. The United States Department of Commerce thought sufficiently well of my ability to grant me a first grade radio license, and by the time the armistice was signed I was so fascinated with the work that I just hated to give it up and return to what seemed like ordinary everyday endeavors. Suddenly recalling the fact that a cousin of mine, Dr. Mahlon Loomis, was really responsible for giving to the world wireless telegraphy, having invented and demonstrated it some years before Mr. Marconi was born, the happy thought came to me that right now was my opportunity to do something worth while in honor of his memory. I, therefore, dug right down to the bottom of my bank account and founded a school in honor of that pioneer electrical inventor who, in 1865, sent the first aerial telegraph message between two peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. My great ambition is to obtain the world-wide credit that is due his memory."

"What sort of young men are taking up the radio profession?" was my next inquiry.

"The kind who have grit and want to get there! Virtually all of them are ambitious and enthusiastic over the possibility of visiting every nook and corner of the world. My students are not only enrolled from various sections of the United States and Canada, but from many foreign countries, such as Sweden, Ireland, England, Poland, Russia, Austria, Rumania and the Philippines. One of the brightest pupils I ever had was Prince Walimuhomed of far-away Afghanistan. He was an extremely modest young man, keeping his real identity a secret until after graduating. He said he had no idea of earning his living by working at radio, but just wanted to know all about it. He does.

"You have no idea how much happiness I get out of the success of each individual graduate. My boys keep in touch with me from all parts of the world. Scarcely a day goes by that I do not get some trinket or postcard from some remote section of the world. I have made the wonderful discovery that the only way for me to get happiness for myself is to make some one else happy. I find that I am making these young men happy by teaching them every phase of the radio business so that they can earn a comfortable living for themselves and their dependents and, at the same time, see the great big beautiful world.

"Really, I am so infatuated with my work that I delight in spending from 12 to 15 hours a day at it. My whole heart and soul are in this radio school."

I discovered that every conceivable radio appliance can be found in the Loomis school; and, strange to say, almost all of it was constructed by Miss Loomis herself. There is not a single wireless apparatus used on battleships, merchant vessels or land stations that she does not have for the benefit of her "boys."

In addition to the regulation classrooms, Miss Loomis has fitted up a combination carpenter, machine, electrical, drafting and blue print shop. She can operate a lathe, use a handsaw, a monkey wrench, pliers, or any of the tools incident to these trades.

"How would I know, or how could I teach, the practical side of radio unless I knew all about the apparatus, both inside and outside?" was her retort when I asked why she bothered about the workings of such a shop.

"No man," she continued, "can graduate from my school until he learns how to make any part of the apparatus. I give him a blue print of what I want him to do and tell him to go into the shop and keep hammering away until the job is completed. I want my graduates to be able to meet any emergency or mishap that may arise some day far out on the sea."

"Miss Loomis," I jokingly inquired, "if you work only 12 or 15 hours a day in your school, what do you do with all your spare time?"

"Oh, the rest of my time is devoted to the writing of textbooks and lectures on radio. I have just completed a book on the theory of radio. It goes to the publisher in a day or two."

Further questioning brought forth the information that previous to her debut in the radio field, Miss Loomis had gone in for music and languages. She can speak French, Italian and German.

"What is the explanation of that odd middle name - Texanna?" was the final question of the interview.

"That was given me by my mother in honor of the state where I first saw the light of day. You see, I happened to be born in a homesteader's shack away down in Texas, some miles from the historic town of Goliad."

Article reprinted from the Dearborn Independent, December 31, 1921.


Mary Texanna Loomis (8089) was the second child born to Alvin Isaac and Caroline (Dryer) Loomis. Though born on a homestead in Texas on August 18, 1880, by 1883 her parents had returned to Rochester, New York  and then on to Buffalo where Alvin became president of a large delivery and storage company. 

Little information is in the Loomis archives as to Mary's early life, but it is believed to have been a respectable middle class upbringing. Her academic acuity must have been great for her to learn four languages and then at about thirty years of age, venture into the world of radio, which was at that time, a province of only a select few experimenters and inventors, all of whom were men. 

And by the age of fifty, had founded a world class institution of radio learning, which provided fully trained graduates to the fledgling broadcast industry throughout the 1920's. As President and Lecturer of the Loomis Radio School, Mary also authored a definitive book on and aptly named "Radio Theory and Operating." This book became the textbook for her students and is still a highly sought after book today by those who are into early radio study and history.

The Loomis Radio School was located in Washington, D.C. at 401 Ninth St. N.W. and operated with the call letters 3YA. By 1920 it was offering a six month course enabling the graduate to obtain a first grade commercial radio license and by January of 1922 was offering a four year course with a degree in Radio Engineering bestowed on graduates.

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