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The Founder's Founder: Grace Hoadley Dodge

No discussion of Teachers College’s beginnings is complete without inclusion of the philanthropist and teacher Grace Hoadley Dodge.

Born just prior to the Civil War, Dodge,as a young woman, taught Sunday school at the Madison Square Chapel and later in industrial schools for the Children’s Aid Society. In 1880, she and 10other young women founded the Kitchen Garden Association, which over the next four years provided thousands of poor children with instruction in domestic arts. The organization morphed into the Industrial Education Association and finally became Teachers College, for which Dodge served as trustee and the school’s first treasurer.Dodge also helped to organize a society for working women that evolved into the Association of Working Girls’ Societies. She brought two opposing young women’s groups together to form the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of the United States. She created the New York Traveler’s Aid Society to protect migrants and immigrant women, played a leading role in forming the National Traveler’s Aid Society, and was also a leader in the international Traveler’s Aid movement.

Dodge viewed her charitable endeavors as full-time employment, often saying that her salary had been “paid in advance” through her family’s business gains.

“She devoted her skills to raising money from friends and associates, labored tirelessly to strengthen the institution she loved and gave unstintingly of her own resources,” wrote TC faculty member William Summer scales in an introduction to Dodge’s own slim memoir, A Brief Sketch of the Early History of Teachers College. “Miss Dodge’s support reached beyond her lifetime; she was among the first to include Teachers College in her will with a generous bequest from her estate.”

And her legacy would continue in other ways, as well. Dodge’s nephew, Cleveland E. Dodge, was a trustee of the College for 67 years, and his grandson, William Dodge Rueckert, currently serves as the Board’s co-chair.previous page