Note on Collective Biography of Early Barnard Trustees

Note on a Collective Biography of Barnard’s Early Trustees, 1889-1914

N = 53
22 = Original Board Members  (OBM)
31 = Subsequently elected to life terms (LBM)
3 = elected as alumnae representatives to 4-year terms (ABM)
1 = alumnae representative/then elected to life term (Florence Colgate Speranza) (ABM/LBM)

Board Service
Average years of service – 18
Shortest – 2 years
Longest – 63 years (Annie Nathan Meyer)

Average age at election – 44
Youngest – 22 (Annie Nathan Meyer)
Oldest – 80 (Horace W. Carpentier)

Protestants and Assumed Protestants – 49 (92%)
Episcopalian — 12
Presbyterian – 7
Baptist – 3
Unitarian – 3
Other Ps.   24
Catholics                                                           2 9Coudert/Charles Sprague Smith)
Jews                                                                2 (Meyer/Schiff

Higher Education
12 college graduates among 27 women trustees (37%)
Barnard – 7 (1893, 1894,1895, 1896, 1902, 1903, 1905)
Vassar – 4 (1873, 1873, 1874, 1878)
U. Michigan – 1 (1876)
3 with some college
12 with no college
Of the 27 women’s 22 spouses, 6 had college and/or professional degrees
Of the 26 male trustees, all but three had AB and/or professional degreest

Of the 53 family units, all but 6 (47 – 89%) had a college or professional graduate in the family

Social Status/Club Membership
Of the 53 trustees, 40 were listed in the New York Social Register of 1901
Of the 13 not listed, 6 were not residing in New York in 1901 and 1 9Schiff) refused to be listed.
Thus, only 6 are not listed without explanation (3 of them on the board as alumnae electees)

Century Club Membership
22 of the 26 male trustees were members
10 of the 22 spouses of women trustees were members
Thus, 32 trustee families (60%) held memberships in one of the more exclusive NYC clubs

Metropolitan Club — Jennings/Parsons/Charles S. Smith/Hewitt
Grolier – Kinnicutt/Plimpton/Lord/Sheldon/

American Lineage
Many trustees members of genealogical societies
Holland Society (Henry Van Dyke)
Knickerbocker (Rives)
Mayflower Descendants (Seth Low/Silas Brownell/Lucretia Osborn/Roderick Terry)
Daughters of the American Revolution (Mrs. Low/Meyer
Daughters of the Cincinnati

52 of the 53 early trustees lived in Manhattan:
43 of these (81%) lived within three blocks on either side of 5th Avenue, between 34th St to the south
and 74th St to the north;
this backwards “L” (the base below 59th and south of Central Park) (the vertical running from 5th east to Park and up to 74th) took up about 2 square miles of the 23 square miles of Manhattan land


All 26 male trustees had identifiable occupations

Occupations Men Male Spouses All Men Women
Law 16 2 18
Ministry 4 1 5
Publishing 2 3 5
Banking 2 1 3
Business 2 2 4
All Men 26 9 35


Occupations Women %  
Education 7*
Publishing 2
Writers 2
Women Trustees with occupations 11** 41%
Women Trustees Unoccupied 16 59%
All Women Trustees 27

* Include all 5 single women
** Include 6 married women trustees




Links to Columbia
8 of the 26 male trustees with one or more Columbia degrees
2 simultaneously serving on the Columbia Board of Trustees (Coudert/Rives)
2 of the male trautees substantial Columbia donors (Schiff/Carpentier)
1 woman trustee the wife of a Columbia graduate and CU president (Anne Scollay Low)

Elizabeth Milbank Anderson and her son, Samuel Milbank, together on board.
Clara Spence and her domestic partner, Charlotte Sanford Baker, domestic partners


Wealth of Trustees
Likely the Wealthiest:
Elizabeth Milbank Anderson
Horace W. Carpentier
Abram Hewitt
Wife of John D. Rockefeller Sr (Laura Spelman Rockefeller)
Wife of James Talcott (Henrietta E. Talcott)


Subsequent Notes

Who were the early Barnard trustees?
Education-minded New Yorkers with an interest in providing higher educational opportunities to New York City-bounded young women and/or creating an institution of higher education for women in NYC.

How many disappointed in refusal of Columbia College to become co-educational
10 of 53 early trustees among the 50 prominent New Yorkers who had signed the petition to the Columbia Trustees ion 1888 — Meyer/ Schiff/ Wood/ Davis/ Coudert/ Hewitt/ Brooks/ Choate/ Kinnicutt/ Wheeler)
10 of the OBMs among the 102 donors who had pledged $100 a year for 5 years:
Brooks Choate Coudert Low Meyer Plimpton Rockefeller Schiff Stranahan Talcott

How many seeing affiliation/annex arrangements as what they envisioned – or a stop gap until Columbia admitted women??

As a constructive response to a rebuff

Educated parents with young daughters
Women college graduates
Some who saw setting of an annex to Columbia a step in its becoming fully co-educational, which the trustees, faculty and students had opposed doing in the 1880s despite President Barnard’s supporting the move.
Included feminists of both genders, also parents of daughters

Some with strong religious commitments (Mrs. James Talcott) and others with felt need to secure a place for Jews in the enterprise (Jacob Schiff)

Last updated: January 29, 2015
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