New York City – Lydia F. Wadleigh, Pioneer Of Higher Education

Lydia F. Wadleigh holds the unique position of being the pioneer of the higher education of women in New York. The women lawyers, doctors, preachers, legislators and college graduates of the present day make it possible for us to realize the greatness and the inestimable value of the modest work commenced by this devoted woman. Miss Wadleigh was a teacher in one of our public schools—No. 47 in Twelfth Street—and it was in this school she put her project into operation. When the school came under her direction, she established a department for the higher education of girls ; and as the city did not at that time furnish the necessary supplies for such a venture, Miss Wadleigh undertook the expense herself, and thus the first step in this great and important work was taken. This was in the late 50’s, and if people could have seen then what the results of this modest beginning would be, no doubt Miss Wadleigh would have drawn around her a host of supporters and helpers. As it was, she had a few of the best citizens of the neighborhood and some members of the local board connected with the school. Miss Wadleigh’s enthusiasm and determination were so great that they spread to others and in time to the Board of Education, where the question of the higher education of girls was taken up and eventually resulted in the establishing of the Normal College.

The name of Lydia F. Wadleigh and her great work are perpetuated in one of New York’s finest high schools—the Wadleigh High School on 114th Street—and our citizens love to remember her as one of old New York’s illustrious and noble women.