Mrs. Caroline Cutler Metcalf was one of the few truly historically influential members of the Wheaton community. Hired in 1850, at age 41, to replace Margaret Mann, she remained at Wheaton for 26 years, providing superior leadership until 1876.
1850 - 1876Caroline Cutler Metcalf
Dr. Lydia Folger Fowler, who attended Wheaton in 1838-1839, was the second woman to receive an American medical degree. She also became the first woman professor at an American medical college (Central Medical College in Syracuse). Married to the noted… Read More »
Elizabeth Morville’s diary provides the daily schedule for the year 1850-1851, probably typical for most of the Seminary’s early years. The students’ day was marked by bells, which rang to warn of each segment of the schedule.
1851 - 1911Mary Jane Cragin
Mary Jane Cragin, an innovative teacher of geometry, natural philosophy and astronomy, was hired by Mrs. Metcalf, who tried always to have at least one Normal School graduate among the members of her faculty. She wished the Seminary to have… Read More »
The Reverend Eli Thurston, D.D., gave the first recorded Commencement address at Wheaton’s graduation ceremonies. Pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Fall River, MA, from 1849 until his death in December 1869, he spoke again in 1865. Thurston served… Read More »
The Reverend Dr. Barnas Sears spoke at the 1852 Commencement ceremonies. At the time, he was secretary of the the Massachusetts Board of Education.
1853 - 1859Reverend Franklin Holmes
Reverend Franklin Holmes was a Wheaton trustee from 1853 to 1859 while he was the minister of the Trinitarian Congregational Church. He was married to Martha Sawyer, a member of Wheaton’s first graduating class who later became principal of the… Read More »
The Reverend Johnathan Leavitt, D.D., of Providence, RI, spoke at Commencement.
Lucy Larcom was hired by Mrs. Metcalf in 1854, and introduced the study of English Literature at Wheaton. Famed as a poet, author, and editor, Larcom is remembered for her autobiography A New England Girlhood, still in print, in which… Read More »
Reverend Samuel Wolcott of Providence, Rhode Island spoke at Commencement. Wolcott was the author of the more than 200 hymns.
The first Rushlight was published by the Senior Class in 1855. Founded by Lucy Larcom, it is one of the oldest college literary magazines in continuous publication.
Lucy Larcom won a fifty dollar gold piece as first prize from the New England Emigrant Aid Society, for her abolitionist poem Call to Kansas. Set to the tune of Stephen Foster’s Nelly Bly, the song encouraged abolitionist emigrants to… Read More »
The Reverend Horace James of Worcester, Massachusetts spoke at Commencement. He was known as a lecturer on the subject, “How to enlarge the sphere, bring honor to the profession, and increase the usefulness, of the teacher.”
1856 - 1857Daughter of a Slave Attends Wheaton
The first African-American student to attend Wheaton probably did so unbeknownst to the school. In 1856-57, Mary E. Stafford of Cumberland Island, Georgia attended Wheaton.
The Reverend Samuel Bartlett of Manchester, NH, speaks at commencement.
The Reverend A. H. Clapp, of Providence, RI, speaks at commencement. Secretary and treasurer of the Home Missionary Society, Clapp was also a member of the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. For fifteen years, Clapp was the pastor of the… Read More »
The Psyche Literary Society was organized by Lucy Larcom in October 1857. Originally a literary and intellectual discussion group for any interested students, it later became the senior honor society.
The Reverend Ray Palmer, D.D., pastor of the First Congregational Church and Society of Albany, New York, gave Wheaton’s Commencement address.
1858 - 1870Ellen Medora Plimpton
Ellen Plimpton was hired as Wheaton’s first full-time teacher of calisthenics by her aunt, Mrs. Caroline Cutler Metcalf, who threatened to resign if Miss Plimpton was not hired. Previous to this, teachers led physical exercises in addition to their other… Read More »
The Reverend James Means, A.M., of Dorchester, Massachusetts, provided the Commencement address.