"A Heroic Life": 1891-1900


Note written by Susan B. Anthony on the occasion of the third class of women entering the University of Rochester in September 1902.

The University of Rochester was founded in 1850 as an all-male institution. In the 1880s, women began to petition the University to open its doors to female students. Finally in 1898 the Board of Trustees voted to allow women to enter the University if they defrayed expenses by raising $100,000 (approximately $2,000,000 in today's money). A committee of women led by Helen Barrett Montgomery raised $40,000 over the next two years. In June 1900 the Board agreed to admit women students that September if the women could secure another $10,000.

During the summer of 1900, the committee was able to raise another $2,000, but the day before the deadline they were still $8,000 short. At this crucial point, Susan B. Anthony took charge of collecting the remaining money. She solicited the first $2,000 from her sister Mary, the second from Sarah Willis, and the third from Rev. and Mrs. William Channing Gannett. Still short $2,000, Susan B. Anthony pledged her life insurance policy, thus guaranteeing the admission of women to the University of Rochester in the fall of 1900.