WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/1011917

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Page 107 of 207

in 1888, was Ella Lavinia Smith, an extremely bright young lady who was born in Georgetown in Washington, D.C., but raised in Newport, Rhode Island, after her family moved there when she was six months old. Smith, who majored in economics and history, moved to Washington, D.C. following her graduation from Wellesley and began teaching his- tory, civics, Latin, geometry, and algebra at Howard Institute, now Howard University. At Howard, she met Samuel G. Elbert, a brilliant student who was working on a medical degree (MD) at Howard that he received in 1891 and then earned a second MD in 1894 from the University of Pennsylvania. At the same time, Smith completed the requirement for a master's degree from Wellesley College in 1892, writ- ing her thesis, The Practical Effects of Secession as Seen in the Congressional Legislation of Reconstruction. In 1899, Smith and Elbert married. Reading was the most exciting and important interest the couple shared, with a particular concentration on African American writers. During their day, however, writings by African Americans held no im- portance and were dismissed as being of little significance. Yet, the the Special Collections at the Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College is home to rare books, limited editions, and early manuscripts, including the original 7,600 volumes given to the college by its founders, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fowle Durant. Reflective of their status in life dur- ing the 19th century, the Durant Collection contains works of history, art, classical civilization, travel, social sciences, and both American and English literature. Believing that women were capable of achieving great things and only needing opportunity, Durant decided to establish a place for educating females because, he said, "Women can do the work. I will give them a chance." Thus, classes began at Wellesley College in 1875, 12 years following President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and six years after Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. Durant placed no limits on the education of women and, accordingly, the first African American to graduate from Wellesley College, Harriet A. Rice, did so in 1887. The second African American woman to graduate, The Elbert Collection at Wellesley College Making History Come Alive J E ' L E S I A M . J O N E S writer 106 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 8

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