Smith, Sophia(1796–1870) philanthropist; born in Hatfield, Mass. She finished formal schooling at age 14, but educated herself with the many books in her family's house. A shy young woman, she never married; deaf by age 40, she lived her entire life in her family's home with an unmarried sister and brother, Austin Smith. As the last surviving member of her family, she inherited its money, in particular the fortune Austin had accumulated. Guided primarily by the Reverend John Morton Greene, her pastor, she finally decided to leave her money to establish a new college for women—rejecting earlier proposals that she leave it to nearby Amherst or Mt. Holyoke Colleges. She left $393,105 and Smith College opened in Northampton, Mass., in 1875.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.