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Published: May 18, 2011

Grace Hoadley Dodge (1856–1914)

American philanthropist who founded manual training programs for working girls and boys during the era of child labor and eventually expanded it to include a teacher training school that later became Teachers College at COLUMBIA University. Born to the wealthy and distinguished New York family that founded Phelps, Dodge & Co., she spurned the life of a debutante in favor of religiously inspired charitable work. While teaching Sunday school at the CHILDREN’S AID SOCIETY, she developed a discussion group for factory girls and began teaching them household skills. In 1880, she formalized her activities into the Kitchen Garden Association, which she expanded into the Industrial Education Association (IEA) four years later and broadened it to include manual training for boys. In 1887, Dodge expanded IEA to include a training school for teachers for her growing number of students, and she appointed a young Columbia professor, NICHOLAS MURRAY BUTLER, its director. In 1889, IEA was reorganized into the New York College for Training of Teachers, which, in 1889, was incorporated into Columbia University as Teachers College.
One of the first two women appointed to the New York City Board of Education (1886), Dodge helped found the New York Girls’ Public School Athletic League (1906) and, as president of the YOUNG WOMEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION of the United States, helped reorganize what was then a splintered organization into the unified association it remains today.