Emily Mildred Dorsey, teacher and children's-home founder, was born in Dallas around 1894, the daughter of Henry and Lula Dorsey. Her father ran a printing business in downtown Dallas, and her mother was a local leader in home missions and children's work in the Methodist Church. From childhood Emily participated in Methodist missionary work with her mother. She also showed a keen interest in teaching other children and convinced her parents to let her offer a summer school in their Oak Cliff home. Thirty children enrolled, and her father printed and distributed a primer Emily had written. She later started several informal schools in her neighborhood before she graduated from high school and left Dallas to enroll in the University of Texas in Austin. She completed three years of college before holding teaching jobs in Medina County and Dallas. She then enrolled for a two-year program at Scarritt Bible and Training School (now Scarritt College for Christian Workers) in Nashville, Tennessee, after which she taught in a Methodist children's home in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1922 and 1923. She was consecrated as a home missionary in 1924 and subsequently served three years as a teacher in London, Kentucky. She earned a master's degree from Scarritt in 1929.
Dorsey, who never married, adopted a four-month-old daughter upon finishing her degree. She later adopted a son. After teaching in Georgia, she returned to Dallas in 1933 and opened an institution for homeless girls, one of the earliest such efforts in Texas. In Oak Cliff she rented a two buildings that became the Emily Dorsey Home for Little Girls. The home operated for fourteen years, during which care was provided for more than 800 children. In 1947 financial difficulties forced Dorsey to close the home and liquidate it. She continued her involvement in related social causes the rest of her life in the Methodist Church, the Woman's Missionary Society, and the Society for Christian Service. She died in Dallas on July 28, 1974, and was buried in Oak Cliff Cemetery. She was survived by her son, daughter, and sister.
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Dallas Morning News, July 29, 1974. Dallas Times Herald, July 29, 1974, April 27, 1980. History of Woman's Work in the North Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (Dallas: History Committee of the Woman's Missionary Society, 1929).
Founders and Pioneers
Activism and Social Reform
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Debbie Mauldin Cottrell,
“Dorsey, Emily Mildred,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 10, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
December 1, 1994
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: