Willard, Emma

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Willard, Emma

Emma Willard, 1787–1870, American educator, pioneer in woman's education, b. Emma Hart in Berlin, Conn. She attended and later taught in the local academy and in 1807 took charge of the Female Academy at Middlebury, Vt. Two years later she married Dr. John Willard. In 1814 she opened a school in her home, where she taught subjects not then available to women. In 1818 she addressed to the New York legislature an appeal for support of her plan for improving female education, and Governor Clinton invited her to move to New York state. Her school was opened (1819) at Waterford but promised financial support was not forthcoming, and in 1821 the Troy Female Seminary was founded under her leadership. Troy became famous, offering collegiate education to women and new opportunity to women teachers. She wrote a number of textbooks, a journal of her trip abroad in 1830, and a volume of poems, including "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep." In 1838 Willard retired from active management of the school, which was later renamed in her honor. She devoted the remainder of her life to the improvement of common schools and to the cause of woman's education.

See A. Lutz, Emma Willard, Daughter of Democracy (1929) and Emma Willard, Pioneer Educator of American Women (1964).

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