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Sophia Smith 1796 ~ 1870


Sophia Smith

Sophia Smith, educationist, was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, August 27, 1796, daughter of Joseph and Lois (White) Smith, granddaughter of Lieutenant Samuel and Mary (Morton) Smith, and of Lieutenant Elihu White; niece of Oliver Smith, philanthropist, and first cousin once removed of Benjamin Smith Lyman, geologist.

Her early education was extremely meagre. She attended school in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1810, for three months, and in 1814 was for a short time a pupil in the Hopkin's Academy, Hadley, Massachusetts. She was an extensive writer, and in 1861 inherited a large fortune ($450,000) from her brother, Austin Smith.

In later years she conceived the idea of building a college for women, defined the object and general plan of the institution, appointed the trustees and selected Northampton, Massachusetts, as its site. The college, which bears her name, and which was the first institution for the higher education of women in New England, was opened in September, 1875, with L. Clark Seelye as president.

Miss Smith bequeathed for the founding of the college, $365,000 and also $75,000 for the endowment of Smith Academy, at Hatfield, Massachusetts, where she died, June 12, 1870.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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