Northampton is the home of Smith College, founded in 1871 with a bequest from Sophia Smith. Smith is the nation’s largest liberal arts college for women.
In her will, Sophia Smith wrote:
“I hereby make the following provisions for the establishment and maintenance of an Institution for the higher education of young women, with the design to furnish for my own sex means and facilities for education equal to those which are afforded now in our colleges to young men.
“It is my opinion that by the higher and more thorough Christian education of women, what are called their ‘wrongs’ will be redressed, their wages adjusted, their weight of influence in reforming the evils of society will be greatly increased, as teachers, as writers, as mothers, as members of society, their power for good will be incalculably enlarged….
“And in such other studies as coming times may develop or demand for the education of women and the progress of the race, I would have the education suited to the mental and physical wants of women. It is not my design to render my sex any the less feminine, but to develop as fully as may be the powers of womanhood, and furnish women with the means of usefulness, happiness and honor now withheld from them.”