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Nettie Depp

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Life-Size Clay In-Progress 


Nettie Depp: Background

Nettie Depp was the first woman to run for public office when she ran for Barren County School Superintendent in 1913.  

She won the election even though women would not have full voting rights in KY for seven more years.  


Ms. Depp studied directly with Henry Hardin Cherry and Thomas Crittenden Cherry, through the Southern Normal Institute (one of the institutions that now make up Western KY University) and received a degree in education under the tutelage of the brothers.  She was the first woman in Barren County to complete the course of study to produce a professional educator.


While in office, Ms. Depp united two Boards of Education to create the first high school available to local students, housed in the former Liberty Women's College building. In 1915, there were 20 students enrolled, but that number had increased to 106 students by 1917.


Based on records available, Ms. Depp built 13 new and repaired 50 existing schoolhouses.  She added many waterwells and outhouses, created a unified curriculum, and added music, art, and business courses.  By the time she left office in 1917, she had met the inherited debts of $19,000 and was proud to hand over the keys with no debt to impede further progress.


She labored for compulsory education laws in KY and encouraged enforcement of these laws through the offices of the County Judges.  


Another of Ms. Depp's notable concerns during her tenure was schools for the African American children of Barren County. Perhaps her own education and dedication to her profession led her to the progressive idea (for the time) that all children, including African American children and girls, are deserving of the benefits of an education.


Her memoirs reflect that she was aggravated by politics and education being harnessed together. She refused to run for reelection on anything but "a clean, independent ticket." She went on to express that, "since I was a child I have studied and studied hard to be a true woman. I have always tried to raise the standard of education above dishonesty and wrong."


A true visionary and education reformer in Kentucky, Ms. Depp is honored with a bronze marker in Barren County, KY, has been inducted into the Kentucky Women's History Project, and was featured in the recent Award-Winning Documentary, Dreamers and Doers: Voices of Kentucky Women, by Michael Breeding Media. 


Nettie Depp will be honored with a bronze portrait in the Kentucky State Capitol where she can greet and inspire tens of thousands of school children each year who attend tours of the Capitol.


Some information taken from article Legendary Locals: Nettie B.C. Depp by Sam Terry.



Life size Bronze Statue of Nettie Depp,

Kentucky Education Reformer


The creation of the statue of Nettie Depp is designed to inspire progress and exemplify the feasibility of public art as a medium for honoring women in Kentucky who have made significant contributions.


Nettie Depp has been inducted into the Kentucky Women's History Project, developed by the KY Commission on Women, which is an agency of the Office of the Governor. She was profiled, along with 46 other notable KY women in the recent Award-Winning Documentary, Dreamers and Doers: Voices of Kentucky Women, by Michael Breeding Media. To watch the video, see below.


The sculpture of Nettie Depp is currently in progress by sculptor, Amanda Matthews, and thus far has been financed by the contributions of Prometheus Foundry, LLC (Owners/Partners Brad Connell and Amanda Matthews), the KY Foundation for Women, Art Meets Activism Grant*, In-Kind Contributions, and private donations. 


The Artemis Initiative Board of Directors hopes this project will inspire valuable dialogue within the state of Kentucky about the timeliness and necessity of honoring women's contributions to the progress and development of this great Commonwealth.


The Accidental Beginning...


While researching gender equity issues for another project, Amanda Matthews came across an article from September 2014 in the Courier Journal, which stated "In fact, the closest thing to a woman honored by a full-scale statue on public property in Kentucky is Carolina, Gen. John Breckinridge Castleman's horse."  Thankfully, a recent Courier Journal article titled, Louisville Has No Public Statues of Women. That Changes This Weekend, shows welcome progress in this area with the unveiling of the statue of Mother Catherine Spalding (1793-1858) at the Cathedral of the Assumption.  While we very much support this project, we want to see sculptures honoring women included on municipal and state owned land as well. The Artemis Initiative is seeking sculptures honoring women on public land throughout Kentucky.


Women should be honored throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky alongside the many statues honoring men, and the Kentucky Human Rights Commission is asking us to do so. 


*Grant was awarded to the artist, not through The Artemis Initiative, Inc.  

For more information about the Nettie Depp sculpture and installation, please visit Monumental Women of Kentucky.

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