Home HRVH

Light is Given to Discover Onward Things: 
Lucy Maynard Salmon and Adelaide Underhill

When the Vassar Library was built, [Lucy Salmon] had two bronze lamps made to stand on either side of the entrance, in honor of Miss Underhill and the class of 1888.  They were inscribed with an abridgment of Milton's lines: "Light is given to discover onward things." 

-- Brown, Apostle of Democracy, p. 42

On right: Photograph, study/office of Lucy Maynard Salmon in Main Building, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (n.d.).  View item in HRVH

This exhibit focuses on the partnership between Lucy Maynard Salmon and Adelaide Underhill, and the way that their relationship informed, shaped and sustained their work and their lives.  They were particularly intentional in their approach to creating a home together, and it appears that they were equally intentional in leaving a documentary record of their relationship for future generations. 

Lucy Maynard Salmon is remembered as a visionary historian who emphatically believed in “going to the sources.”  The extensive archive that she left behind provides insights into her relationship with Adelaide Underhill as well as the environment of women’s colleges and feminist networks in late 19th and early 20th century America. 

Many thanks go out to the library staff who supported this project and made it possible: Laura Streett, Dean Rogers, Ron Patkus, Joanna DiPasquale, Mary DeJong, Amy Bocko, Sharyn Cadogan and Tom Hill.  I would also like to thank Professors Lydia Murdoch and Hiram Perez, whose vision for the Smashing History: 150 Years of LGBTIQA History at Vassar College event provided the opportunity to learn more about the two women who were most responsible for the early development of the Vassar College Library.

-- Gretchen Lieb, Research Librarian, Vassar College Libraries