Troy Female Seminary aka Emma Willard School
Troy Female Seminary, located in Troy, New York, was founded by Emma Hart Willard in 1821, with the stated goal of offering women the same educational opportunities in history, mathematics, and science as college-educated men. The seminary was renamed the Emma Willard School in 1892 and continues today as a leading all-girls college-preparatory day and boarding school. Troy Female Seminary is generally regarded as the first institution of higher education for women in the United States, predating public high school for girls, women's colleges, and ultimately coeducation universities. At the time of its founding, educational opportunities for women were generally limited to "finishing schools." Willard felt that while it was fine to "decorate the blossom," serious cares were also needed to "perfect the fruit." Willard promoted her rationale and plan for women's higher education in 1819 with the publication of An Address to the Public; Particularly to the Members of the Legislature of New York, Proposing a Plan for Improving Female Education. Her vision resonated with the City of Troy, which provided financial support for the establishment of her seminary. Troy Female Seminary opened in 1821 with 90 students from across the country, and within a decade it educated a student body of over 300. It speaks to the value placed on female education by Daniel and Elizabeth Huntington that their daughter Elizabeth is listed in Emma Willard and Her Pupils or Fifty Years of Troy Female Seminary 1822-1872 as one of the schools 90 entering students. Their daughters Bethia and Mary also attended the seminary, and references to the school are found throughout the family correspondence. For example, in a letter dated June 28, 1832, Mary writes to her sister Bethia (a Troy Female Seminary alum) regarding "reviewing for examination" so she "shall not dread [her] French recitations" and discussing with Mrs. Willard the opportunity to "take lessons upon the guitar." Emma Hart Willard’s sister, Almira Hart Lincoln, married John Phelps in 1831, thus the Huntington’s had a sense of family connection to the school. Joining the Huntington sisters are many other notable alumni, including the abolitionist and women's rights activist Elizabeth Stanton (1815-1902) and the Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda.