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September 17, 1935

Mary Emily Cornell, the last surviving child of the founder of Cornell University and, in 1865, one of the first group of Vassar students, died in Ithaca, NY, at the age of 87. Although obliged eventually to leave the college because of her father’s concern about her health, given Vassar’s academic rigor, she retained her interest in its progress. On the ocassion of her 80th birthday, in 1927, she recalled that her father, a supporter of the college’s original charter when a member of the New York State legislature, “was a firm believer in education for women, and the Vassar experiment interested him keenly.”

Paying tribute to Mary E. Cornell at her death, President MacCracken called her, as a “member of Vassar’s first class, a worthy representative of the great group of pioneers in education for women. Alert, broad-minded, intellectually vigorous to her last years and devoted to the cause of education for women…. I treasure a personal visit made to her last spring when she talked with affection of the beginning of both Vassar and Cornell. Her life united the two institutions in a bond of affectionate remembrance.”

Opened in 1868, Cornell admitted its first woman students in 1879. Miss Cornell’s great-neice and her namesake, Mary Emily Blair was a graduate in Vassar’s Class of 1893.

The New York Times, Cornell Alumni News, The Cornell Daily Sun

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