Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lucinda H. Stone, 1814-1900


STONE, Mrs. Lucinda H., educator and organizer of women's clubs in Michigan, born in Hinesburg, Vt., in 1814. Her maiden name was Lucinda Hinsdale. Her early years were passed in the quiet life of the sleepy little town, which was situated midway between Middlebury and Burlington, and the most stirring incidents of her youthful days were the arrivals of the postman on horseback, or the stage coaches, bringing news from the outside world. As a child she read eagerly every one of the local papers that came to her home, and the traditional "obituaries," the religious revivals called "great awakenings," the "warnings to Sabbath-breakers" and the "religious anecdotes" that abounded in the press of that country in those days were her especial delight. The reading of those articles left an impression upon her mind which time has never effaced. Her interest in educational and religious matters can be traced directly to the literature of her childhood days. Her early desire for knowledge was instinctive and strong. Study was life itself to her. Luanda's father died, when she was three years old, leaving a family of twelve children, of whom she was the youngest. After passing through the district school, when twelve years old, she went to the Hinesburg Academy. Site became interested in a young men's literary society, or lyceum as it was called, in Hinesburg, to which her two brothers belonged. That modest institution furnished her the model for the many women's libraries which she has founded in Michigan, and through which she has earned the significant and appropriate title of "Mother of the Women's Clubs of the State of Michigan," Lucinda spent one year in the female seminary in Middlebury. Acting upon the advice of a clergyman, she returned to the Hinesburg Academy, where she entered the classes of the young men who were preparing for college. She kept up with them in Greek, Latin and mathematics, until they were ready to enter college. That experience gave her a strong bias of opinion in favor of coeducation. From the Hinesburg Academy she went out a teacher, although she strongly wished to go to college and finish the course with the young men, in whose preparatory studies she had shared. She became a teacher in the Burlington Female Seminary, where the principal wished to secure a teacher who had been educated by a man. As she answered that requirement, she was selected. She taught also in the Middlebury Female Seminary, and finally a tempting offer drew her to Natchez, Miss., where she remained three years. In 1840 she became the wife of Dr. J. A. B. Stone, who was also a teacher. In 1843 he went to Kalamazoo, Mich., and took charge of a branch of the Kalamazoo University. He also filled the pulpit of a small Baptist Church in that town. Mrs. Stone could not resist her inclination to assist hex husband in teaching, and she took an active part in the work of the branches, which were really preparatory schools for the university. The successor of the university is Kalamazoo College, of which Dr. Stone was president for twenty years. The college was a coeducational institution, and the female department was under Mrs. Stone's charge. Dr. Stone was always a warm advocate of the highest education for women and of coeducation in all American colleges. He believed also in equal suffrage and urged the abolition of slavery. The home of Mrs. Stone was the resort of abolitionist and equal suffrage lecturers, and among the guests they entertained were some of the most advanced leaders of thought, Emerson, Alcott, Wendell Phillips, Fred Douglas, Mrs. Stanton, Mary Livermore, Lucy Stone and a host of others. In November, 1864, Mrs. Stone gave up her department in Kalamazoo College, after toiling a score of years. After leaving the college, she took up another line of educational work, that of organizing women's clubs, which are societies for the education of women. She spent some time in Boston just after the formation of the New England Woman's Club. She returned to Michigan and transformed her old historical classes into a woman's club, the first in Michigan and the first in the West. The Kalamazoo Woman's Club, as it was named, was the beginning of the women's clubs in Michigan, and out of it have grown many of the leading clubs in the State. When the question of collegiate education for girls began to stir the public mind, Mrs. Stone was roused to the justice and importance of it, and exerted her energies and influence to forward the matter of admitting women to the University of Michigan. She fitted and sustained in her efforts the first young woman who asked admission to its halls. Now, when the annual attendance of women in Ann Arbor is recorded by hundreds, and many women graduates are filling high positions and becoming noted for their fine scholarship, Michigan University could do no more graceful and just thing than to call one of her own daughters to a professor's chair. To accomplish that Mrs. Stone is exerting her later and riper energies. The University of Michigan, in its commencement in 1891, conferred upon her the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, in recognition of her valued efforts in educational work.

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