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Posts Tagged ‘women’s education’

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The information I could find on William Graham Brooke (without paying for access to articles) indicates that he was an advocate for education, particularly for education and university access for girls and women. A barrister, he worked on the reorganization of Anglican education for the Lord Chancellor’s office.

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When doing research on Sophronia Bulfinch Pike, I found, among other items, a post with her “most famous recipe,” Western Fudge Cake. Pike was a member of the Home Economics Association, but I couldn’t find much else about her other than what is inscribed on her tombstone. It was a little disappointing, because a Google search turns up all sorts of tantalizing hits, but when you click into the document and try to find her name, you can’t. She must have been an interesting woman. From what I can read in those snippets, she was one of those women of the 19th and early 20th centuries who went to college and then had a career rather than marrying.  One of the summaries indicated she had taught at Western College for Women, her alma mater, for almost 50 years.

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Emily Jessup

In Oxford Cemetery in Oxford, Ohio, you can find this monument to Professor Emily Jessup. The light is a little unusual in the photograph, so below I have typed for you the information on the tombstone:

Emily, daughter of William and Nancy O’Dell Jessup,
Born Wilton, Conn., Sept 3, 1824,
Died Oxford, Ohio, Sept 25, 1893.
Pupil, Teacher, Associate Principal, Mount Holyoke Seminary, 1843-1862
Teacher, Western Female Seminary, 1862-1893

Mount Holyoke Seminary, Jessup’s alma mater, exists today as the women’s institution Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke in 1837 to provide access to higher education for young women, against whom the doors of universities were generally closed. The seminary was the first college for women in the United States, and provided inspiration and practical guidance for other women’s colleges to follow. Mount Holyoke counts itself the first of the Seven Sisters: Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Barnard, and Radcliffe colleges; all institutions for the education of women.

According to Mount Holyoke’s records, Emily Jessup graduated with the class of 1847 and then taught at the institution for approximately fifteen more years. She, like many of her colleagues, then took that experience to Western Female Seminary, another women’s college.  Considering she graduated a year ahead of Helen Peabody (the first principal of Western Female Seminary) and then would have been her teaching colleague for about four years, it seems reasonable to assume that Peabody had a hand in convincing Jessup to move westward. We know what Professor Jessup looked like thanks to archival photographs on the web.  Despite health issues that necessitated the use of a wheelchair, Jessup instructed for 30 years at Western Female Seminary, until her death in 1893.

As we leave Emily Jessup today, I want you to look one more time at her tombstone, and reflect on the uniqueness and daring of her life.  In an era where women’s rights were severely circumscribed and American society prescribed a very rigid role for women of Jessup’s race and class, she defined herself by educational and professional accomplishments.

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