Vassar College Digital Library

Matthew Vassar Papers

Matthew Vassar, founder of Vassar College, was born in the County of Norfolk, England, emigrated with his parents and other family members to Dutchess County, N.Y., in 1796. Vassar College was chartered in 1861 and opened its doors to students in 1865. It was not the first venture in higher education for women, but the extensive advertising and publicity for the college brought the question of women's education to popular attention with greater force than ever before. Matthew Vassar strongly believed in women's mental capacity, in proving that woman's mind was equal to man's; and he intended that his college should both prove that point and prepare women to live in the modern world.