Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Jackson, Cornelia Maria, 1822-1895
Cornelia Maria Jackson (1822-95) was an advocate of women's rights, a committed Universalist, and a benefactor of Tufts University. Her generous gift allowed for the establishment of the Cornelia M. Jackson College for Women in 1910.
The daughter of John and Nancy Fuller, Jackson was born in Wrentham, Massachusetts, on December 15, 1822. She attended Attleboro Academy and went on to Bridgewater State Normal School. After graduating in 1847, Jackson taught school in Wrentham, Mansfield, and Attleboro. Albert J. Metcalf, another prominent figure in the establishment and support of Tufts College was one of her pupils. In 1862, she married Sylvester R. Jackson, a Providence businessman. Jackson relocated to Rhode Island, where she resided for the rest of her life. Her only child, Mary, died suddenly in 1892, and her husband died the following year. She died in 1895, within two years of her husband's death.
Although not well-known outside of Providence, Jackson was a life-long believer in equal rights for women, enthusiastically advocating suffrage and access to higher education for women. Jackson was a member of the Church of the Mediator, a Universalist congregation located in Providence and led by Rev. Dr. Henry W. Rugg, a friend of hers for more than twenty-five years. The pastor was a member of the Tufts College Corporation, for which he served as secretary. He also had sat on the committee that voted to open Tufts doors to women students in 1892.
Jackson showed much interest in Tufts' move to coeducation and bequeathed the College $70,000 and half of the remainder of her estate to Tufts. As she states in her will, Jackson's gift was "In great thankfulness for the opportunity now opening before me, which realizes the dream of my youth, and which has grown to a hope with advancing years; that of helping to remove the disabilities of women..."The bequest was to be used for the establishment of a building to be designated as "The Cornelia M. Jackson College for Women" and for the provision of special instruction for women "in the duties and privileges of American citizenship, and in the theory and working of the United States government," for which a chair in Political Science was endowed in 1898.
Jackson did not, however, endorse the creation of a sexually segregated learning environment within her will. When the women were separated from the men's college in 1910, it was felt that the name "Jackson College" continued to be a fitting one and did not at all diminish the significance of Jackson's memorial offering.
Jackson College and the Cornelia M. Jackson Chair of Political Science were both named in her honor in gratitude for her generosity to Tufts.
Source: VF; LOH1, 183-85.