Born this day in 1800: Sarah Anne Worthington King Peter (1800–1877), philanthropist who founded the Philadelphia School of Design for Women
Now the Moore College of Art and Design, the Philadelphia School of Design for Women was the first and only women’s visual arts college in the nation. Due to her wealth and position, Peter was able to acquire her own education, spoke several languages, and was well-respected for her intellect. She believed that all women, however, should have greater access to learning. The school’s original purpose reflected Peter’s lifelong concern with women’s education, the arts, and the less fortunate. The school first formed to provide single and widowed women with skills to support themselves financially. Students were taught to design articles such as patterns for wall-paper, carpet, calico, and woodwork moldings—all of which were popular domestic items at the time. Peter’s other charitable work included ministering to Civil War soldiers, POWs, and children orphaned by the Civil War and to women’s prisons. She conducted many of her charitable activities through the Catholic Church.
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