August 20, 1897: Spark for a Revolution!
The image above is the preamble to the Charter and Articles of Incorporation that the Sisters of Notre Dame filed on August 20, 1897, creating Trinity College. The sisters, normally reserved and anonymous, were so bold as to state their lay as well as religious names, and they signed the document in that same way:
In 2022 we may find it hard to imagine what a brave, bold act this was for those five women, and for their Superior Sr. Julia McGroarty who approved the project. They could have easily stayed in the safety of their semi-cloistered convent on K Street, content with teaching the younger girls in the Academy of Notre Dame. But they believed deeply in the right of women to pursue a higher education equal to that offered to men in that day — the fact that the then-new Catholic University barred women from admission was the catalyst that sparked the revolution in women’s education embodied at Trinity. They were not intimidated by the conservative voices in the Church that condemned the project as a heresy. They persisted and won approval from even the Pope, they raised the money, bought the land and planned the great building we call Main Hall. It took them three years from the founding months in 1897 to the start of classes and dedication of the college in November 1900 — we will be celebrating all the milestone moments along the way as we observe 125 years of the amazing achievements of Trinity College, now Trinity Washington University.
We are grateful to Mayor Muriel Bowser for recognizing Trinity as we start our anniversary era today: