North American Scholar

LEACH, Abby

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1855-05-28
  • Born City: Brockton
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Marcus & Eliza Paris Bourne L.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1918-12-29
  • Death City: Poughkeepsie
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Education:

    A.B., A.M. Vassar, 1885; study at Radcliffe Coll. & Leipzig.

  • Professional Experience:

    Gk. tchr. Vassar, 1883-8; asso. prof, to prof. Gk., 1888-1918; mng. comm. ASCSA, 1888-1918; pres., APA, 1899-1900; pres. Assoc. Collegiate Alumnae, 1899-1901.

  • Publications:

    "The Athenian Democracy in the Light of Greek Literature," AJP 21 (1900) 361-77 (abstract in TAPA 31 [1900] viii-ix); "The Fatalism of the Greeks," AJP 36 (1915) 373-401, reprinted as "Fate and Free Will in Greek Literature" in The Greek Genius and Its Influence, ed. Lane Cooper (New Haven, 1917; repr. Ithaca, NY, 1952), 132-55.

  • Notes:

    Abby Leach was a true pioneer in women's education in America. Thwarted by the practical and social obstacles to receiving a first-class university education, she moved to Cambridge and persuaded men like Greenough and Goodwin to give her instruction in Latin and Greek. Her situation was publicized and women came to Cambridge for the same purposes. In time, Radcliffe College was founded in response to the needs demonstrated by Leach and women like her. A dignified, impressive speaker, she served as a role model for the undergraduates during her long career at Vassar. She was among the first in the country to realize that introductory Greek must be taught in colleges at a time when it was declining in the schools. Her energetic encouragement of her students and her wide reputation as a teacher resulted in a number of her students pursuing graduate work. In 1908 the emperor of Japan awarded her a golden cup in recognition of her services to education.

  • Sources:

    Charles Burton Gulick, DAB 11:72; NatCAB 12:257; NAW 2:379-80; NYTimes (30 Dec. 1918) 9; WhAm 1:712.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.