Freeman Hall Namesake: Alice Freeman Palmer

Freeman Hall

Alice Freeman Palmer

Initially called East Hall when it was completed in 1916, this residence hall was renamed in 1928 to honor Alice Freeman Palmer (1855–1902), a University of Michigan alumna and one time president of Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

Alice Elvira Freeman was born a farmer's daughter in Colesville, New York. Alice desperately wanted to continue her education, but her family could not allow this unless she promised to assist them in supporting the family while she was away at college. So while she attended college she took teaching jobs to help her family.

After she graduated from the University of Michigan in 1876, Alice received a job as principal at a boarding school in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where her reputation soared.

The founder of Wellesley College gave Palmer three offers to come and teach at his college as a professor of history, and on the 3rd offer she finally accepted. She was elected to the chair of history in Wellesley College in 1879. In 1882, when the founder of the college died, Palmer, at 26 years old, was elected president of the college. She was the first woman to be the head of a nationally known college. She is also well known for helping the school become more well-rounded and a Liberal Arts College. She was married to George Herbert Palmer in 1887.

In 1892 she became non-resident dean of the women's department at the University of Chicago, and a spokeswoman for women's place in higher education. She is also the founder of the American Association of University Women.

In World War II the United States liberty ship SS Alice F. Palmer was named in her honor.