Alice Freeman Palmer


Alice Freeman Palmer


Education and leadership


President of Wellesley College in the late 19th c. and ardent supporter of women's education


Amy French


Image: Saginaw Hall of Fame, 2000

Birth Date



Colesville, New York, USA

Death Date



Academic leadership

Biographical Text

Alice Freeman Palmer is a notable figure in women's history. She was one of the United State's greatest educators and became president of Wellesley College. Freeman graduated from the University of Michigan pioneering in the coeducation field. After her graduation, in 1877, she came to Saginaw, Michigan. At the time, Saginaw was in the heyday of its lumbering industry. For many of its young men, work came before schooling, which would make Freeman's job all the more difficult. As principal of Saginaw High School, Freeman encountered a gang of tough boys. She dismissed the leader of the gang from school and restored order at Saginaw High. In 1879,she left to accept a professorship at Wellesley College and became their president at the incredibly young age of 27. Freeman insisted on rigorous academic standards for the women at Wellesley. The college grew during her tenure and her innovative techniques ushered in a golden age for the school. When she married George Palmer, a Harvard professor, she left active leadership at Wellesley, but remained as one of their trustees, and served on the Massachusetts State Board of Education. Palmer was much in demand as a lecturer and for her active participation in numerous education groups.


Palmer's address on the advantages of higher education for women

Link to The Life of Alice Freeman Palmer by George Palmer, Wellesley College

Bordin, Ruth. Alice Freeman Palmer: the Evolution of a New Woman. (University of Michigan Press, 1993).


alice freeman palmer.JPG
Date Added
July 17, 2014
Local (Michigan)
Item Type
, , ,
Amy French, “Alice Freeman Palmer,” Women Who Dared, accessed July 16, 2024,