I have been impressed with the need of such a place for the advanced education of our young female Friends, and to have all the advantages of a College education which are so freely offered to young men.
So wrote Quaker physician Joseph Wright Taylor in 1880 in his bequest to Bryn Mawr College. For Martha Carey Thomas, the daughter and niece of College Board of Trustee members, involvement in the formation of Taylor's proposed college was a professional opportunity of the highest degree and one that resonated with her own feelings about educating women.
Thomas was convinced of her abilities to shape the College. She wrote to her mother in November 1882, shortly after successfully defending her dissertation at the University of Zürich:
I care as much for the 'cause' [of women's education] as for myself. I only wish I could have a chance of working for it as well as I feel that I could work. Of course, I suppose it is impossible & that they [The Board] would never give it to me, but I should love to have the presidentship of Bryn Mawr. I believe I could make it the very best woman's college there is, so that English & German women would come & study there - that is, I believe it could be so managed & I do not believe any other person whom they could get would have the interests of other women so at heart &, at the same time, would have the requisite training to enable her or him to see what was needed.
Thomas was named Dean of the College in 1884, working with its first President, James E. Rhoads. Her struggles to develop the physical campus mirrored the battles that she was to have with the Board members and faculty over the definition and future of Taylor's Quaker college for women.The Early Campus - Hutton and Vaux
Bryn Mawr College
Campus Plan - Hutton, Vaux & Olmsted
Collegiate Gothic - Cope and Stewardson
Details & Interior - De Forest
Paving Tiles - Mercer
Decorative Sculpture - Ashbee & Miller
Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections. September 21 - December 20, 2001