ANNIE NATHAN MEYER (1867-1951)
Annie Nathan Meyer was a prolific writer and the founder of Barnard College. She was born on February 19, 1867 to a prominent New York family. She could trace her heritage to Gershom Mendes Seixas, the minister of New York's Congregation Sherith Israel from the Revolutionary War period, and she was a distant cousin of Emma Lazarus. In spite of her social status, "Meyer attended public schools in New York. Upon her sister's marriage in 1881, however, she left school before graduation in order to assume the management of the Nathan household." (Accessed on 12-12-03, http://www.huc.edu/aja/Meyer.htm)
Although she had left secondary school prior to graduation, " . . . in 1885, upon passing the entrance examinations, Ms. Meyer entered the Collegiate Course for Women at Columbia University. She soon discovered, though, that the standard education for men was not to be gleaned from this "collegiate course." (it was devoted . . . to teaching women to roll hems and balance teacups." Taitz, p. 108) Upon her marriage to Dr. Alfred Meyer on February 15, 1887, she left the University to continue independently her education and the development of her literary talents. By the end of that year, she decided to rectify the situation and, with the support of Melvil Dewey, she resolved to create an entire college for women in New York City." (Accessed on 12-12-03, http://www.huc.edu/aja/Meyer.htm)
Barnard College opened its doors in 1899. Annie became a lifelong trustee of the college, and "she also became involved in other activities. She addressed the problem of prejudice and urged African-Americans and Jews to take pride in their heritage." (Taitz, p. 108)
Although Annie was a progressive advocate for quality women's education, she was initally opposed to women gaining the right to vote. Her objection to the suffrage movement appeared rooted in her concern that the platform of some of the suffragists was built on the notion that women getting the right to vote would "purify" politics. (accessed 12/12/03 http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/biography/meyer.html) Also, "she said she was worried that uneducated people might use the vote improperly." (Taitz, p. 108) However, once women gained the right to vote in 1920, she made efforts to promote continued quality education for women so they would make informed political decisions.
Annie was a prolific writer. A list of some of her work is included below. Her play, The Advertising of Kate, was produced on Broadway in 1921.
Annie's letter stating her position on suffrage, as written to Booker T. Washington in 1909
Meyer, Annie Nathan. It's Been Fun; an autobiography. New York, Schuman. 1951.
Meyer, Annie Nathan.The Dominant Sex: a play in three acts. New York: Brandu's. 1911.
Meyer, Annie Nathan. The Dreamer: a play in three acts. New York: Broadway Publishing. 1912.
Meyer, Annie Nathan. Barnard Beginnings. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1935.
(She has many more titles, and I will continue adding all this week.)