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John M. Greene 

Sophia Smith's pastor, John Morton Greene, is regarded by many as the father of the idea of founding Smith College. Archival records indicate that he guided Sophia Smith to face up to the responsibilities inherent in her wealth, beginning on the spring day in 1861 when she came to him in distress asking for his advice to her dying days in 1870 when she entrusted her personal journal to him. As her closest advisor, it seems clear that John M. Greene exerted considerable influence on her parishioner to apply the greatest portion of her estate to the establishment of a women's college.

Biographical sketch

Born in Hadley, Mass. on March 12, 1830, John M. Greene was an 1853 graduate of Amherst College, which also granted him the A.M. in 1856 and D.D. in 1881. In 1857 he married Louisa Dickinson of North Amherst, an 1857 graduate of Mount Holyoke Seminary. In the same year, Rev. Greene was installed as the pastor at the Congregational church at Hatfield, where he remained for eleven years. In Hatfield Rev. Greene met Sophia Smith. In 1868 he was called to the pastorate at the Congregational Church at South Hadley, Mass. Two years later he went to the Eliot Congregational Church in Lowell, Mass., where he remained for thirty years. After retiring from regular pastoral duties in 1910, Greene assisted in the establishment of a mission in Maine. He died April 28, 1919.

John M. Greene was a trustee of Smith College almost continuously from its founding in 1871 until his death. In addition, he served on the board of trustees of Mount Holyoke Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College), 1866-1875; and was president of the board of trustees at the French Protestant College in Springfield, 1885-1889. As advisor to Sophia Smith, he was also instrumental in the founding of Smith Academy in Hatfield, and acted in a similar capacity for Miss Rogers to found the Rogers Hall School in Lowell, where he acted as president of its board of trustees, 1892-1909. For over forty years he was one of the overseers of the charity fund at Amherst College.

He was the author of The Blessed Dead (1888), Happy Wedlock (1900); Looking on the Bright Side (1901); Genealogy of Timothy Green (1904); and many addresses, sermons and pamphlets, including An Address at the Centennial of the Birth of Sophia Smith (1896).


Journal entries, July 1, 10 and 11, 1861

Letter: John M. Greene to Sophia Smith, 7 January 1868
Mr. Greene informs Sophia Smith of the Massachusetts legislature's intention to grant a charter to John Clarke's institution for the deaf, and urges her, therefore, to return to the idea of founding a woman's college -- an idea which, he now believes, is finally ready to be carried out: "The subject of women's education, women's rights and privileges, is to be the next great step to progress in our State." On February 12, Sophia Smith requested him to draw up plans for a women's college which would form a codicil to her will.
Journal entry, 12 February 1868
"This afternoon Miss Sophia Smith has been into my study to confer [with] me about changing her will...."
Codicil for a Woman's College, 1868
The draft in John  M. Greene's handwriting which later became incorporated into Section 13 of Sophia Smith's Last Will and Testament, providing for the establishment of "Sophia Smith College."
Letter: John M. Greene to Sophia Smith, 22 February 1869
Urging a change of the location of the proposed college from Hatfield to Northampton.
Letter: John M. Greene to Sophia Smith, 28 April 1869
Urging again the change of the location of the college to Northampton and advising that the students be housed in small groups.
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