"It is my wish that the institution be so conducted, that during all coming time it shall do the most good to the greatest number. I would have it a perennial blessing to the country and the world."

-- From the Last Will and Testament of Miss Sophia Smith, 1870

The nearly $400,000 that Sophia Smith devised at her death in 1870 to establish a college for women was a history-making bequest: the first founding of a women's college by a woman. Since its inception, near the end of the nineteenth century, Smith College has hailed Sophia Smith as founder, yet the story of her vision remains shrouded in mystery. Parts of that story have been documented as fact; others are merely speculation. Sophia has been called far-sighted, wise and determined by many -- as well as lonely, timid, melancholy, and even odd. While some pieces of the puzzle have been lost, perhaps the Smith students of today -- and tomorrow -- can help complete the picture.

This exhibit documents what is known today about Sophia Smith -- her life, her times and her continuing legacy -- based on contemporary sources and original materials in the archival collections at Smith College. It has been adapted from an exhibit prepared by College Archivist Margery Sly and Jacque Bradley '97 on view in the Smith College Archives from January to August 1996. It was adapted for the World-Wide Web by Peter Nelson.

A Product of the Five College Archives Digital Access Project

This on-line exhibit allows visitors much fuller access to the Smith College Archives' Sophia Smith-related holdings than was possible in the original exhibit. It is an early demonstration product of the Five College Archives Digital Access Project, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project's main goal is to develop and make widely accessible in electronic format a variety of archival collections that support historical research, teaching and knowledge. For more information, visit the project web site [].

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© 1997 Five Colleges, Inc. Last modified: 28 July 1997
Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation