What was the Litchfield Women’s Academy?
Courtesty: CSU Archives/Everett Collection
Harriet Beecher Stowe, ca.1800's
in its day it was pioneering, with a remarkable story and founder. Sarah Pierce of Litchfield was the sister of a colonel who served in a Connecticut militia during the Revolution. She was, for her time, an ardent proponent of advancing the roles of women in society—something of a proto-feminist, if you will.
In 1792, Pierce, who had been schooled in New York City, revolutionized things for young women of this area by founding the Litchfield Female Academy. One of the first academic institutions of its kind in the newly minted United States, Pierce’s academy had only one student when its doors opened but grew rapidly in recognition and renown, attracting as many as 3,000 boarding scholars over the four decades of its existence.
Such was the LFA’s fame, they came from 15 U.S. states and territories, Canada, and even the West Indies. Among its notable alumnae was reformist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe, and many others who had stellar careers in the arts, literature, and teaching. Pierce’s belief that “men and women are intellectual equals” was reflected in a curriculum of remarkable diversity: not just traditional courses like reading, composition, sewing, needlepoint, and dancing—but also mathematics, science, geography, logic, botany, and painting. Her favorite subject of all was history.
Ahead of her time and ahead of the curve, Sarah Pierce was a pioneer and inspiration.