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Annie Nathan Meyer

Believing that education was the best path for women’s success, Annie Nathan Meyer founded Barnard College, New York’s first liberal arts college for women. In 1885, Meyer enrolled in Columbia College’s Collegiate Course for Women, but in 1887, a discussion with Columbia’s chief librarian, Melvil Dewey, led to a plan to establish a separate but affiliated women’s college. Meyer wrote a letter to The Nation arguing that New York lacked a real claim to culture because unlike other major cities, it had no liberal arts college for women. She then visited potential donors, securing the funds for the new school in just two years and naming it for Frederick A.P. Barnard, the husband of one of the major donors. After Barnard opened in 1889, Meyer served on the board of trustees, continued her fundraising and PR work for the new school, and raised scholarship money for Zora Neale Hurston, the first African American student at Barnard, as well as future students of color. Meyer also pursued her dreams as a writer, with several well-received novels and plays, as well as a study called Woman’s Work in America and an autobiography, completed days before her death, It’s Been Fun.

Annie Nathan Meyer, 1920
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Writer, philanthropist, professor, and founder of Barnard College, Annie Nathan Meyer (1867-1950) in 1920.

Date of Birth
February 19, 1867
Place of Birth
New York, New York
Date of Death
July 14, 1950

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Annie Nathan Meyer." (Viewed on February 23, 2019) <>.


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