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.
More on Annie Nathan Meyer
- Encyclopedia Article: Annie Nathan Meyer
- Power Couples: Editorial Advocates
- This Week in History: Opening of Barnard College
- This Week in History: Judith R. Shapiro inaugurated president of Barnard College
- Blog: An Interview with Elaine Weiss, Author of "The Woman’s Hour"
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Annie Nathan Meyer." (Viewed on March 7, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/meyer-annie>.