Elizabeth Storrs Mead

First President of Mount Holyoke College

1832 – 1917 A.D.

Mrs. Mead is the daughter of Col. Chas. E. Billings of Conway, Mass. Her mother was sister of Rev. Richard S. Storrs, D.D. She is thus of the best New England stock. After receiving her education, chiefly at Ipswich, Mass., she entered upon the work of teaching.

For six years she was engaged with her sister in conducting a private school for young ladies in Andover, Mass.

In 1858 she became the wife of Rev. Hiram Mead, D.D., and removed to South Hadly, the seat of Mount Holyoke Seminary.

Dr. Mead was subsequently called to Oberlin College, where he died after some years of service. Mrs. Mead turned again to teaching, spending two years at Oberlin and six at Abbot Academy, Andover, Mass., She became widely known as an instructor of marked ability.

While spending some time in Europe she was called to the presidency of Mount Holyoke Seminary and College.

Mrs. Mead entered upon her duties as president in 1890. The recent remarkable growth of the college is largely due to her noble personality and wise leadership.

One of the college trustees had this to say of Mrs. Mead before she entered upon her duties:

“The friends of Holyoke are to be congratulated on the prospect of soon seeing at the head a president who unites so much of modern learning and culture with so much of the spirit of Mary Lyon; and whose ambition will be to realize the ideal of a Christian college, which shall give the broadcast and best education in literature, science, and art, and all consecrated to the highest and best ends.”

The institution has an honorable history, filling a unique place in our American educational life. A pioneer in an almost untried field, it has had many followers. It has a present strength which gladdens the hearts of alumnae and friends, and a future most promising.


Reference: Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World published by the King-Richardson Co. in 1903.