Sarah Elizabeth Doyle

Pioneer in Women's Education

A thirty-six-year-old Rhode Island high school teacher and principal, Sarah Elizabeth Doyle was a founder of the coeducational Rhode Island School of Design (1877). In the mid-1890s, she became a leader of the Rhode Island Society for the Collegiate Education of Women, which sponsored the establishment of The Women's College at Brown University. This feminist and education reformer also ardently supported women's suffrage.

lifelong teacher in Rhode Island

Early Years

Sarah Elizabeth Doyle entered Providence High School during its initial enrollment in 1843. One of seven siblings, she completed her formal education in 1846 when she graduated from that school, and she dedicated the rest of her life to the advancement of higher education for women.


American Women Abolitionists: Freedom Fighters II

1838 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women

By Thursday, May 17, 1838 the mob that had gathered outside Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia to disrupt the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women had become louder and more threatening - encouraged by the city's policemen who stood by and watched as the violence against the abolitionists and their property escalated.

speaker at Pennsylvania Hall
Image: Angelina Grimke Weld


American Women Abolitionists: Freedom Fighters I

early abolitionist
Image: Sojourner Truth (circa 1797-1883)
Prominent abolitionist and women's rights activist

Abolitionist Movement in Philadelphia

In the 1830s, female antislavery societies circulated and gathered signatures on antislavery petitions, held public meetings, organized fundraising events, and financially supported improvements in free black communities. Many of these organizations focused on submitting signed petitions to the U.S. Congress as a top priority in their campaigns to end slavery. Women were not yet allowed to vote; therefore, petition drives were one of the few forms of political expression available to female abolitionists.


First Women's Rights Activists I

Pioneers in the Fight for Women's Rights

women's education reformer
Activism consists of efforts to promote changes in society, politics, the economy, or the environment. Activism can be expressed through political campaigns, boycotts, confrontational strikes or street marches, or by simply writing letters to newspaper editors.

Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820)

Judith Sargent Murray was light years ahead of her time. Her ideas about women's education were extremely radical for the late 18th century. She believed that the idea that women were intellectually inferior to men stemmed from the way they were raised: boys were encouraged to learn while girls were neglected.