Mabel Smith Douglass


Biography of Mabel Smith Douglass

Mabel Smith Douglass (February 11, 1874 – September 21, 1933) was the first dean, in 1918, of the New Jersey College for Women in New Brunswick, NJ. In 1955, the college was renamed Douglass College in her honor.

Douglass was appointed Dean of the New Jersey College for Women when it opened in 1918 with just 54 students and some 16 faculty members. Students had the choice of liberal arts or home economic curriculum. With her commitment to providing women a four-year college education and outstanding leadership, Douglass spent the next 14 years shaping the college and was instrumental in helping students rise to success.

Douglass was an extraordinarily energetic woman, which played a major role in her accomplishments and success as the founding dean of NJC. Her advocacy with state legislators helped pave the path for the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs to open the doors for women, even though resources were very limited.

Douglass attended public school in Jersey City. In 1899 she graduated from Barnard College in New York City. In 1903, she married William Shipman Douglass, owner of a shipping business. They had two children, a son, William Shipman Douglass Jr. and daughter, Edith Douglass. After her husband died in 1917, she managed her husband's business, and later sold it when offered the opportunity to be Chairwoman at the New Jersey State Federation of Women's Clubs.

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