Fanny Garrison Villard 1844 – 1928
When Helen Frances Garrison was born in Boston, December 16, 1844, women enjoyed few rights, and political equality was just a dream. But Helen Frances (called Fanny) was fortunate to claim as her parents Helen Eliza Garrison and noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Both Garrisons valued education for girls as well as boys; Fanny attended Winthrop School in Boston, and later taught piano.
In 1866 she married Henry Villard, a German immigrant and a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. The couple had four children. Henry was an astute businessman, and the family’s fortunes flourished, which allowed Fanny time to volunteer for the Diet Kitchen Association, which supplied food to the poor, the Consumers’ League, the Working Women’s Protective Association, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A firm believer in higher education for women, she helped found Barnard College, and the Harvard Annex (which became Radcliffe College).
In the early 1900s, after Villard’s husband died and her children were grown, she became involved with the woman suffrage movement, serving on the executive board of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association and joining other similar organizations. After suffrage was achieved she continued her father’s legacy of working for peace and justice until her death in 1928.
Like many of her wealthy peers Fanny could have spent her life in ease and comfort; instead, she chose to spend her life fighting the status quo, seeking equal rights and peace for all.
Happy Birthday, Fanny Garrison Villard!