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Dartmouth College Library Bulletin

DOUBLE PLAY: WOMEN'S EDUCATION AND ANTI-SLAVERY

VIRGINIA L. CLOSE

One

THE HISTORY of Mount Holyoke College and its graduates in the nineteenth century encompasses references to institutions for the education of women founded by Holyoke graduates, following in the footsteps of Mary Lyon.1. This experience of aiding in founding, or of establishing, educational institutions occurred not only in New England but further west as settlement spread. Dartmouth College has its share of graduates who have been involved, some more than others, in the spread of education. In the case of several alumni, the interest was especially in the education of women. Milo Parker Jewett 1818, born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, became first an educator, but at the same time he read law and subsequently graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1833. Jewett got around; he established the successful Judson Female Institute in Marion, Alabama. Later, in 1856, he returned northward and purchased the Cottage Hill Seminary, a school for girls in Poughkeepsie, New York. It was here thatJewett became acquainted with Matthew Vassar. Vassar had intended originally to use his wealth to establish a hospital but was persuaded by Jewett to turn it to creating Vassar Female College. Subsequently, due to circumstances about which interested researchers can read, Jewett, who had become the first president of Vassar, resigned.2.

The writer of this article was not aware of Jewett or his connection with Vassar College, but fell onto both by chance while looking through manuscript cards in Baker's Special Collections. There are too many cards for Milo Parker Jewett and Vassar not to have suggested an investigation.

Jewett moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1867 and became a respected, hard-working citizen in the field of education in that state. For those interested, we note that he became a trustee of Milwaukee Female College, later to become Milwaukee-Downer College. Coincidentally, Jason Downer 1838, another Vermonter ( he had been born in Sharon), eventually removed to Milwaukee where he was a judge. He is the Downer whose name appears in the later title of the 'female college.' The years that both Downer and Jewett lived in Milwaukee overlapped. Did one encourage the other in their interest in furthering women's education?

The papers of neither man are at Dartmouth, but in the case of Jewett there is material in Special Collections as well as printed publications on Vassar College in the general stacks.3. Recently a dissertation about Milwaukee-Downer College (which is no longer in existence) was acquired by Special Collections for what it contributes about Downer, but fewer local resources on him exist.4. Using collections at Dartmouth, an energetic student, even if he or she were unable to travel to libraries holding Downer's or Jewett's papers, could still develop a worthwhile paper on the contributions of the College's early alumni to the education of women.

Two

THE Dartmouth College and Associated Schools General Catalogue 1769-1940 identifies Stephen Symonds Foster 1838 only as 'Farmer.'1. The earlier work by George T. Chapman 2. notes (p. 296): 'He studied divinity at Union Theo. Sem. N. Y. city, but relinquished it to advocate the abolition cause, and has done it for many years with unflagging zeal. His home is upon a farm in Worcester, Ms. He married Abby Kelley, of kindred spirit, at New Brighton, Pa, Dec. 3I, 1845.' For even more information see his biographical sketch in the Dictionary of American Biography. It does tell us that 'while an undergraduate, he was attracted by the growing anti-slavery movment, which at that time had many supporters at Dartmouth.... While at Dartmouth he served a jail sentence rather than perform militia duty....'3. In Foster's alumni folder in Special Collections is a letter, contradicting the militia- duty statement, that indicates the jailing was for debt. Some twenty years ago an attempt was made to locate primary sources on Foster, but at that time the New Hampshire Historical Society and the clerk of court at the Grafton County Courthouse could produce nothing. What prompts this present article is 'Abby Kelley, of kindred spirit,' for she is the subject of a recently published biography.5., on Abby Kelley has a lengthy bibliography identifying locations of sources such as for the Foster-Kelley Family Papers at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts, not too far afield for a determined researcher to consult.


One:

1.For example, Lake Erie Seminary, later Lake Erie College, in Painesville, Ohio; Western Female Seminary, later Western College, in Oxford, Ohio, whose first principal was Helen Peabody; Mills Seminary, later Mills College in California. founded by Susan L. Tolman and her husband, Cyrus T. Mills; and Michigan Seminary at Kalamazoo, founded under the leadership of Mount Holyoke graduates.

2.See such histories of Vassar as James Monroe Taylor's Before Vassar Opened: A Contribution to the History of Higher Education of Women in America (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1914).

3.Jewett consulted Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke Seminary, when he was planning the buildings for Vassar. See Arthur C. Cole, A Hundred Years of Mount Holyoke College (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1940),123.

4.Downer's papers are in the Area Research Center, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Information supplied by the Vassar College Library tells us that papers ofMilo ParkerJewettcan befound there, in the UniversitvofRochester Library, and, as noted, at Dartmouth.

Two:

1.(Hanover: Dartmouth College Publications, 1940), 137.

2.Sketches of the Alumni of Dartmouth College. from the First Graduation in 1771 to the Present Time, with a BriefHistory of theInstitution (Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1867), z96.

3.6:558-559

4.Dorothy Sterling, Ahead of Her Time: Abby Kelley and the Politics of Anti- Slavery (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991).

5.1:647-650.