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Emma Willard (February 23, 1787 – April 15, 1870) was an American women's rights advocate and the pioneer who founded the first women's school of higher education.

Emma Willard was born Emma Hart in Berlin, Connecticut, the sixteenth of her father's seventeen children and the ninth of her mother's ten children, of Samuel Hart and his second wife, Lydia Hinsdale Hart.

She attended a district school at Worthington Point. Emma started teaching at the age of 17 and shortly after turning 20, received job offers from Westfield, Massachusetts, Middlebury, Vermont, and Hudson, New York. She accepted the offer from Vermont and moved there. In 1809 she married Dr. John Willard then age 50. Willard brought 4 children from earlier marriages to their marriage. Her husband's nephew, another John Willard, lived with them while attending nearby Middlebury College.

In 1814, she opened the Middlebury Female Seminary in her home. After moving to New York she opened the Waterford Academy in 1819 in Waterford, New York, but it was closed in 1821 due to a lack of continued funding by its citizens and administration.

In September 1821, however, the city of Troy, New York, requested that the school be moved there, and Willard accepted the offer and founded the Troy Female Seminary. Afterward, renamed the Emma Willard School,42°42′51.30″N 73°39′40.23″W / 42.71425°N 73.661175°W / 42.71425; -73.661175Coordinates: 42°42′51.30″N 73°39′40.23″W / 42.71425°N 73.661175°W / 42.71425; -73.661175 it was notably prosperous and successful.

Mrs. Willard's husband died in 1825, but she continued to manage the institution until 1838, when she placed it in the hands of her son and her daughter-in-law. In 1830, she made a tour of Europe, and three years later published Journals and Letters from Great Britain; the proceeds from the sale of the book she gave to a school for women that she helped to found in Athens, Greece.

She married Dr.John Willard Yates in 1838 and moved with him to Boston. He gave up his career, and after nine-months of marriage they separated and a Decree nisi was granted in 1843.

She was a free woman at the age of 60 years and continued her writing. On 15 April 1870 she died in Troy, New York and was interred at Oakwood Cemetery.

Her works include The Woodbridge and Willard Geographies and Atlases, (1823); History of the United States, (1828); Universal History in Perspective, (1837); Treatise on the Circulation of the Blood, (1846); and Last Leaves of American History, (1849).

She co-authored A System of Universal Geography on the Principles of Comparison and Classification. Her Life was written by John Lord (New York, 1873). A statue honoring her services to the cause of higher education was erected in Troy in 1895.

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