Maria Louisa Sanford papers,
Maria Louisa Sanford
Maria Louisa 1836-1920
1 box (0.5 linear
letters, speeches and two printed volumes belonging to Maria Louisa Sanford,
professor of rhetoric and elocution at the University of Minnesota.
Minnesota Libraries. University Archives
Access and Use
The collection was donated by Mrs. Gordon Paterson in 1947, Mrs.
Harold M. Stanford and Frank Maloy Anderson in 1952, Nell Mabey in 1956 and
Mrs. Florence P. White in 1963.
Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house
Requests for permission to quote from the Maria Louisa Sanford papers
should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives head.
Maria Louisa Sanford papers, University of Minnesota Archives.
Biographical Sketch of Maria Louisa Sanford (1836-1920)
Born on December 19, 1836 in Saybrook, Connecticut, Maria Sanford
attended the Normal School in New Britain, graduating at the age of 19. After
graduation, she taught local children in various Connecticut communities until
1871. Since women were not yet allowed to attend Yale University, a professor
of history gave Maria Sanford outlines of college courses so that she could
study independently. Her teaching skills were highly regarded, and in 1871 she
was offered the position of professor of history at Swarthmore College in
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. She is widely considered the first female professor
in the United States. Professor Sanford remained at Quaker College for 9 years,
until Dr. William W. Folwell, first president of the University of Minnesota,
offered her a position at Minnesota in 1880.
She began as an assistant professor of rhetoric and elocution, and in
1881 she was appointed to the rank of professor. Professor Sanford led the
rhetoric department from 1881 until her retirement in 1909. In addition to her
teaching, she was a highly requested public speaker. Even after her retirement
from the University, she continued to travel throughout the United States for
public speaking engagements. Professor Sanford spent her entire academic career
without the advanced degree she helped so many students attain. In July 1917,
at the age of 80, Carleton College awarded her an honorary Doctor of Humane
At the time of her retirement in 1909, she was asked to give the
commencement address, noted as being the first woman to give the address at
major university in the United States. The first women's dormitory opened on
campus in 1910 and was named for Professor Sanford. On April 19, 1920,
Professor Sanford gave the speech "Apostrophe to the Flag" at the opening
celebration of the continental congress of the Daughters of the American
Revolution in Washington, D.C. She died two days later at the age of 83.
Collection Scope and Content Note
The collection contains letters, memorials, speeches and two printed
volumes that Professor Sanford used to teach art appreciation to her literary
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Historical Society holds a collection of Maria Sanford's papers in
their library collection.
- This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog
of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about
related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these
Ina Ten Eyck 1866-1937
Maria Louisa 1836-1920
- University of
Minnesota. Dept. of English
Contents of the Collection
"To the School Directors of Chester County,"
[Pennsylvania], circa 1869
Note Several photocopies of this letter, probably from a newspaper. It
defends Miss Sanford's right to be elected and commissioned county school
Letters, address, tribute, undated, 1922
Letters handwritten by Miss Sanford
Letters showing her efforts to stimulate competition in
the fields of rhetoric and debate
"Apostrophe to the Flag"
Note A printed copy of her last public address
Tribute given at a meeting of Daughters of the American
Revolution, Mankato, Minnesota, April 1, 1922
Note Tribute was given by Ina Firkins, University reference librarian
and Miss Sanford's very good friend
Two small printed volumes: "Leonardo" and
Note Note in volume 1 explains: "Prof. Maria L. Sanford early added a
course of art lectures to her course in literary criticism and rhetoric. As the
Library had practically no material for this work, she bought large numbers of
paper-covered monographs and had them bound in board at her own expense, for
the use of her students. These are the two that escaped destruction in the
burning of Old Main."