“The women’s sphere is one of infinite and indeterminate radius.” —Sarah Elizabeth Doyle
Born this day in 1830: Sarah Elizabeth Doyle (1830–1922), suffragist and social reformer who co-founded the Rhode Island School of Design and engineered women’s access to Brown University
Doyle was a native of Providence, Rhode Island. After high school she was a popular and by all accounts inspirational teacher. She also served as a principal for many years. Doyle believed deeply in the need to promote women’s advancement. She was a member of the Rhode Island Woman Suffrage Association and lobbied for state suffrage when Rhode Island was drafting a new constitution. She saw not only suffrage but also the organization of women as key to their advancement. She helped found the Rhode Island Women’s Club in 1876 and served as its president until 1884. She also helped found the Rhode Island State Federation of Women’s clubs. She contributed greatly to promoting women’s access to higher education. In 1887 she was instrumental in founding the co-educational Rhode Island School of Design and through her efforts Brown University opened its doors to women in the 1891.
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