Grace C. Bibb

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Grace C. Bibb (1842 – 1912) was a feminist and philosopher who lived from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. She was part of the push for equality between the sexes, as well as an advocate for women’s rights, access to higher education, expansion in employment opportunities, a right to equal pay, and a woman's right to vote. At a time when were still relegated to domestic duties, Bibb was pursuing a career in the educational field. She was appointed Deanship at the Normal College despite the fact that women were not at that time allowed to attend the College. In her position at the Normal College, Bibb pushed that women be allowed into the College of Education. She later pushed for women to be allowed into all other University departments.

Bibb wrote and published an essay on Lady Macbeth. She took the position that Lady Macbeth’s actions were not for herself but to aid in the advancement of her husband. Bibb took the stand that it is not within Lady Macbeth’s female nature to act on her own behalf. Women were not raised to consider their own happiness but the happiness of their male counterparts therefore Lady Macbeth’s motives were based out of devotion for her husband. Bibb’s defended Lady Macbeth and this was a new feminist viewpoint that had not been yet explored.

Another peek at Bibb’s feminist viewpoint can be seen in “Women as Teachers” published in the Journal of Education in 1873. She argues that a key ingredient to being a good teacher is sympathy and this was something that came naturally to woman. A teacher must have this essential skill in order to instruct and mold a student. She argued that woman’s nature tendency to sympathize was “able to break down the barriers that often exist between teacher and student.” [1] She also believed that woman were complete qualified to teach higher education positions, even at University levels.

With her forward way thinking and her writings, essays and articles are what helped Bibb land the dean position at Normal College in 1877. Bibb paved a feminist path into higher education not only for herself but for all the women that came behind her.


  • 1884 - married Thomas Sudborough and moved to Nebraska.[1]
Southeast Missouri State University Old Normal.jpg


  • First female appointed a deanship at Normal School aka College of Education, University of Missouri.[2]
  • Served as head of the Normal School from 1878-1883.[2]
  • Under her leadership women were first allowed into Normal College then all other University departments.[2]
  • Part of the Paraprofessional philosophy movement- i.e., the transition from the avocation of the amateur scholar to the vocation of the professional academic.[1]
  • Part of the earlier feminist movement and intention incorporated feminist ideas in her work.[1]
  • A frequent contributor to the Western Review, aiding in the promoting of feminists views.[1]
  • A frequent contributor to the Journal of Education.[1]


  • St. Louis Hegelian Circle- translated the work of Rosenkranz and appeared in Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Bibb and her female Colleagues could not join the Society but could attend meetings and contribute articles and translations to the Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Other well known female philosophers attending meetings included Susan Blow, Anna Brackett and Maretta Kies.[1]
  • Kant Circle aka St. Louis Philosophical Society hosted which was know to hosted speeches by both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott.[3]


  • 1873 "Women as Teachers". Journal of Education 2:12:225.
  • 1875 "Lady Macbeth: a Study in Character". the Western Review 1:287.
  • 1875 "Avenues into which our Work Leads Us". the Western Review 1: 731.
  • 1880 "Education of the Public as to Normal School Education ". Education 1: 574.
  • 1880 "Normal Departments in State Universities". Address to the National Education Association.Chautauqua, New York,


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Rogers, Dorothy (2005). America's First Women Philosophers Transplanting Hegel, 1860-1925. New York, NY: Continuum. p. viii, 180. ISBN 978-0-8264-7475-9. 
  2. ^ a b c Stephens, Frank. "A History of The University of Missouri". University of Missouri Press. 
  3. ^ "George Howison". 

External Resources[edit]

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  • [2]
  • [3]
  • Rogers, Dorothy G. (2005) America’s First Women Philosophers Transplanting Hegel,1860-1925 New York:Continuum