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DEVOTED TO THE SCIENCE, ART, PHILOSOPHY, AND LITERATURE OF EDUCATION.
A NOTED WOMAN EDUCATOR—MRS. ALICE FREE
BY ANNIE ISABEL WILLIS.
HE Massachusetts State Board of Education consists of eight members, besides the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor, ex officio. This controlling body was established fifty years ago to care for the educational interests of the state. It was one result of the revival under Horace Mann, and its special duty now is the care of state normal schools, which were instituted by it. The state board has charge of the faculty and finances of all state normal schools, also of the state schools for the blind, and deaf and dumb, besides the art normal school in Boston. Not a teacher can be appointed for these schools unless approved by the board. Its supervision of district schools, where its power is felt no less than in the higher grade institutions, is performed by five agents and a secretary, employed for this purpose, and salaried by the state. Certainly, if to control the education of the future teachers of the state is to control the schools of the state, this body of men and women is doing an important work for the educational interests. of Massachusetts.
But it is of a newly-added member of the board, not of the whole body, that this paper treats. I refer to Mrs. Alice Freeman Palmer, of Cambridge, ex-President of Wellesley College, who was appointed last fall to succeed Mr. Horace E. Scudder.
Alice E. Freeman is a native of New York State, where she lived until she was sixteen. Her father, who is a physician, exer
cised a wise care over his daughter's growing powers- for it became evident when she was but a child, that she was destined to be a student. At the age of sixteen she was prepared for college, and was ready, physically as well as mentally, to make the fine record which distinguished her as a collegian.
Vassar was the only woman's college then in existence, but several western institutions of learning had begun to admit girls, and Miss Freeman entered Michigan University, at Ann Arbor, in 1872, heavily conditioned, and with her reputation as a scholar to make. During the first two years she removed the conditions and kept up with her class. While a Junior she left school to teach from January to June, becoming preceptress of a high school at Ottawa, Ill., with one hundred pupils under her immediate care. Here she taught eight hours a day, Latin, Greek, Algebra, Geometry, English Literature, and Botany. During vacation she made up the studies lost by her absence, became a senior, and graduated with her class at the age of nineteen. One of the ten commencement honors, then awarded at Michigan University for the last time, was given to her.
Miss Freeman's record at college was a fine one. She was a close student, if also a brilliant one, and on one occasion distanced all her class by choosing two hard electives when the rest did not dare to venture on more than one. In order to do this a special permit had to be obtained from the faculty. It was secured, and the two studies successfully pursued, fortunately without any injury to the ambitious young student. While at the university Miss Freeman became proficient in Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Anglo Saxon.
The year after her graduation was spent in teaching the classics, literature, and history in Geneva Lake Seminary, a private school for girls, seventy-five miles from Chicago. The following summer (1877) she spent in studying for a master's degree, which she received in that year. Finding that President Angell, of Michigan University, wanted her for preceptress of a fitting school in East Saginaw, she did not return to Geneva Lake Seminary, but remained in the former place two years, during which time the rest of the family removed there, on account of the failing health of one of her sisters. Meantime, while she was laboring in one section of the country to fit students for a great college, an opportunity which should lead to more brilliant usefulness was
preparing for her, in connection with a great college, in another place.
Wellesley College, situated in the village of Wellesley, Mass., was built in 1875, and began life with magnificent grounds, buildings, and equipments. Its first president was Miss Ada Howard, who has always been spoken of in terms of the greatest respect. During her presidency, in 1879, Miss Freeman was chosen to fill the chair of history. Previous to this she had been repeatedly asked to teach mathematics at Wellesley, but had refused, as her tastes inclined her to literature, history, and the classics. Being an enthusiast about the higher education of woman, she accepted the new position. The field offered a splendid opportunity for earnest work, for the college was young, and the equal culture of women and men was yet somewhat of an experiment. Miss Freeman brought to the position such fine scholarship and such winning social qualities, that the students valued highly her instruction and influence. She had the broad mind which is essential to the real teacher of history. She took large views of life, and her knowledge of people, as well as her pedagogical and scholarly attainments made her a rare instructor.
In October, 1881, Mr. Henry F. Durant, the founder of Wellesley College, died. This event caused Miss Howard, whose health was never good, to break down completely, and Miss Freeman was elected vice-president, to assume the duties of the president, who was given a year's leave of absence. The next year she became president in Miss Howard's place.
Miss Freeman was especially gifted for such a position. She possessed executive ability, judgment, and tact, and, added to these, the power of winning the love and respect of the students under her care. She assumed the enormous burden of work with seemingly little difficulty, and bore it easily and ably. She obtained, moreover, great influence over the college girls, and in more than a few cases, was one of the chief inspirations in a young woman's life. In 1883, one year after her election to the presidency of Wellesley, Michigan University conferred upon her the degree of Ph. D., and Columbia College in 1887, added Litt. D.
Miss Freeman's term of service at the college closed in December, 1887. In January, 1888, she was married to Professor George Herbert Palmer, of Harvard University, since which time they
have spent more than a year abroad. When her resignation was accepted, the presidency of Wellesley was at once offered to Miss Helen A. Shafer, professor of mathematics there, and she now holds that position. No other person was considered for the place, though erroneous statements have named several. Mrs. Palmer retains her interest in the college, and is active in work for its welfare, being now a member of its board of trustees.
This new member of the State Board of Education is eminently fitted, in every way, for her position. Having been instructor, professor, and president, in the highest schools, she thereby knows better the needs of the lowest. Her educational career has made her not merely a theorist, but a practical worker in school affairs, and when to this is added her judgment, tact, and enthusiasm, and her knowledge of educational methods abroad-for she has been an extensive traveler-the wisdom of her choice as a member of the board is evident.
MISS LYDIA B. MANN.
"A TRUE WOMAN,
-STRONG, PURE, PATIENT."
BY MARY J. CAPRON.
Ta time when the national pulse was throbbing with the excitement of political contest, over
"The written scrolls a breath may float";
when grave and multiplied problems emphasized as never before, that
"The crowning fact,
The kingliest act
Of Freedom is a freeman's vote,"
and side by side with husbands, brothers, sons, many a wife, sister, daughter grasped eagerly the "written scroll," some as a longcoveted "right," some in conscientious defence of our educational bulwarks, others as a duty which a short-sighted zeal had converted from a possible good into a necessary evil, then it was, that two, slender, wasted hands were folded above a pulseless breast, and a lifeless form was laid tenderly away under the cloversprinkled turf of a country church-yard.
What matters it? The hands, in all their half-century of service
had never wielded the "kingly vote," and the sweet, womanly life had, almost a score of years before, slipped, unheeded by the world, from its ranks of busy toilers.
"Useless, stranded," so she had spoken of herself in those later years, sweetly unconscious of the cheery light ever shining steadily from out the Chamber of Peace. "Idle and helpless, the spent hands and tired feet, but ah! how many other and younger hands were still doing her bidding; how swiftly scores of feet were hastening on in ways whither she had guided them; and how, through lips, whose earliest utterance it had been hers to fashion, she was still speaking!
Not for her sake do we pen this late memorial. Her faithful ministry is twice written; upon living human hands, and in God's Book of Remembrance. Our purpose is rather that we, her fellow workers, may thank God and take courage.
And first, contrast our modern schoolrooms, multiplying equipments, graded classes and elaborated systems, with the experience of the pioneer in the honorable vocation of teacher; for such was our friend, Miss Lydia B. Mann.
A sister of the late Horace Mann, she shared his enthusiasm in the cause of education, and when the loved mother no longer needed her tender ministrations, she entered at once upon her lifelong service to the young. For years she labored in the "district school," meeting and overcoming difficulties and discouragements undreamed of by the modern teacher. She was one of the first ladies considered competent to take charge of a winter school,
a master's authority and muscle having been deemed indispensable for that "reign of terror." With a patience born of her purpose to uplift and purify; with an unselfishness that never "sought her own"; an humility that desired neither praise nor promotion; and a "zeal according to knowledge," she won the love and respect of her pupils from the youngest to the oldest, and not a few of the latter were men and women grown. Her aim, like that of Arnold, was to make of them "living epistles, known and read" through succeeding generations; aye, and more; she wrought not for time only, but for eternity.
Year after year she toiled, the monotony of the "three R's," unrelieved by the later innovations of music, drawing, and gymnastics, but seasoned now and then with the spice and wormwood,—of "boarding around." Then came a call to service still