Lydia Moss Bradley
|Lydia Moss Bradley|
July 31, 1816|
|Died||January 16, 1908
|Spouse(s)||Tobias S. Bradley|
Lydia Moss Bradley (July 31, 1816 – January 16, 1908) was a wealthy Bank president and philanthropist notable for her philanthropic works. She founded Bradley Polytechnic Institute in Peoria, Illinois, in 1897.
Lydia Moss was born on July 31, 1816 in Vevay, Indiana, alongside the Ohio River. She lived there with her family and husband until the age of 31 when she and her husband Tobias Bradley moved to Peoria, Illinois. Over the next three decades they prospered in real estate and banking. Despite his death in 1867 and the prior deaths of all six of their children, Bradley continued to work in business and pursued philanthropic interests, particularly in the areas of healthcare and education.
In 1875 Bradley became the first female member of a national bank board in the United States when she joined the board of directors of the First National Bank of Peoria (now part of Commerce Bank). Bradley was also one of the first American women ever to draft a marriage contract (a "prenuptial agreement" in modern terms) to protect her assets.
Bradley gave land to the Society of St. Francis to build a hospital, now known as the OSF St. Francis Medical Center. In 1884 she built the Bradley Home for Aged Women to care for widowed and childless women, and funded the construction of the Universalist church in Peoria. Bradley then won a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1903 over a land dispute. She also helped to establish the first park system in Illinois.
Bradley always considered Bradley University to be her fondest project, which she established in 1896 to honor her husband Tobias and her six children, who all died at an early age. Originally organized as a four-year academy, Bradley University became a four-year college in 1920 and has continued to grow ever since.
Today the university enjoys the status of a fully accredited, independent institution that provides undergraduate and graduate education in engineering, business, communication, teacher education, nursing, physical therapy, fine arts, and the liberal arts and sciences.
In 1998, Lydia Moss Bradley was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
- Bradley Polytechnic Institute: The first decade, 1897-1907. Bradley University. 1908. p. 119.
- Dagit, Christal. "Lydia Moss Bradley." Illinois Heritage (Mar/Apr2015) 18#2 pp 29-31.
- Henderson, Lyndee. More than Petticoats: Remarkable Illinois Women (2006) pp 34-43.
- Upton, Allen A. (1988). Forgotten Angel - The Story of Lydia Moss Bradley.