Emily Cape

On this date in 1865, sociologist Emily Cape (née Palmer) was born. She apparently was the first woman student admitted to Columbian University (now George Washington University), and also attended Barnard College and the University of Wisconsin. She studied sociology with Prof. Lester Ward, who is sometimes called the father of American sociology. Cape became his assistant while he worked on his multi-volume Glimpses of the Cosmos (first volume published 1913). "Like Professor Ward, she is an Agnostic and an ardent humanitarian," freethought historian McCabe wrote in 1920 (Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists). Cape founded a School of Sociology in New York. Her own books include Oriental Aphorisms (1906) and Fairy Surprises for Little Folks (1908). As a 60-year-old, Cape undertook a cruise around the world in 1926-1927. In her 278-page journal describing tours in Japan (Yokohama, Tokyo, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara), Thailand, India and Egypt, she commented upon some "ignorant" priests on board.

“No wonder their 'flocks' are 'low in education.'”

—Emily Palmer Cape, writing about priests she met on a cruise, January 15, 1927, Emily P. Cape Journal, William L. Clements Library (The University of Michigan)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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