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Excerpt from Life and Work in Middlebury, Vermont, of Emma Willard
Mrs. Emma Willard is known as the pioneer in the great movement of the nineteenth century for the higher education of woman. To say that she had a genius for teaching, that she devised improved methods, that she wrote admirable textbooks, and that she impressed her own high ideals upon the characters of her pupils is indeed great praise. But it is a still greater glory to have started a movement which has revolutionized the ideas of the civilized world on the subject of woman's education, a movement which has culminated in the founding of grand colleges exclusively for women and in the admission of women to older colleges on equal terms with men. For it is not too much to say that Wellesley and Vas sar and their sister institutions on either side the Atlantic are the fair fruitage, in time, of those seminal ideas so ably set forth in Mrs. W illard's Plan of Female Education.
It is interesting to study the origin of such a great movement; it is like tracing some noble river upward to its sources in the dis tant mountains. Let it be our pleasant task to search out, as far as possible, the inﬂuences that shaped Mrs. Willard's career as an educator. In so doing we shall find that the formative period of her life was the twelve years spent in Middlebury - a period passed over too cursorily in Dr. Lord's biography. The fresh interest in this truly great woman, awakened by the Emma Willard associa tions of the country, is an additional reason for considering more in detail the incidents of this portion of her life and for inquiring into the moral forces which called forth her grand ideas regarding the scope of woman's education.
We should, as a preliminary, call to mind briefly the circum stances of her early life in Connecticut, her excellent parentage, the beautiful home life of her childhood, her two years of earnest study under Dr. Wells, her brilliant success as a teacher at the early age of 17. These facts help us to picture the bright, noble hearted woman who, at the age of 20, came in 1807 to take charge of the female academy at Middlebury.
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