Anna Eliot Ticknor, daughter of George and Anna (Eliot) Ticknor, was fifty years old when, in 1873, she founded the Society to Encourage Studies at Home to which she thenceforth devoted herself until her death.
Her birth, education and position were such as to fit her exceptionally for the work she undertook. Her father was not only the historian of Spanish Literature, but a professor of modern languages who introduced elective courses into Harvard College, and at a later time was one of the founders and early presidents of the Boston Public Library. He had many correspondents of eminence abroad and at home, many distinguished friends with whom his intercourse was frequent, and their society would naturally make a large element in his daughter's life.
Her mother was of a sensitive and an animating nature, able to sympathize with an enterprise like this society and to help it forward by personal influence and personal exertion. Miss Ticknor's character rendered her a nearly ideal leader in the movement. She was quick of temperament, and ambitious of usefulness far more than of any distinction. While appreciative of the restrictions which she wished to remove, she was desirous to gratify, if possible, the aspirations of the large number of women throughout the country who would fain obtain an education, and who had little, if any hope of obtaining it. She was very highly educated herself, and thought more and more of her responsibility to share her advantages with others not possessing them.
She had written for others' benefit a few articles, a book about Paris for young people, a biography of her father's friend and hers, Dr. Cogswell of the Astor Library, and, at the time of the foundation of the Society, she was much occupied in preparing the material for her father's memoirs. In addition to all these qualifications, moral and intellectual, she possessed an executive ability not then fully known, but brought into constant prominence by her work as secretary of the Society. She was at once secretary, treasurer and president, writer of reports, framer of courses and of book lists, purchaser for the library, and active in all sorts of details. More important still was her correspondence with the students of the Society, as will appear hereafter in this volume. It will be seen that she was a teacher, an inspirer, a comforter and, in the best sense, a friend of many and many a lonely and baffled life.
This note is intentionally very brief. The only thing to be added is that the Society was Miss Ticknor's exceeding great reward, that it was her consolation amid the bereavements of her later years, her companionship in the solitariness which followed her mother's death, eleven years before her own, and a source of delightful activities which made the end of her life a happy one.
-- From Samuel Eliot, "Anna Eliot Ticknor - Biographical Note", from Society to Encourage Studies at Home. Boston, Society to Encourage Studies at Home, 1897, pp. 1-3. Link courtesy of Women Working, 1800-1930, a project of the Harvard University Library Open Collections Program focusing on women's role in the United States economy and providing access to digitized historical, manuscript, and image resources selected from Harvard University's library and museum collections. Photograph of Anna Eliot Ticknor from: Society to Encourage Studies at Home, founded in 1873 by Anna Eliot Ticknor... Society to Encourage Studies at Home, 1897, Cambridge [Mass.] Printed at the Riverside Press. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America (374 S67.)