Ohio History Journal

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Prevailing Manners and Customs

on the Frontier: The Memoirs

of Irene Hardy


Irene Hardy, schoolmistress, poet, and early Stanford University

professor, was born July 22, 1841, in Eaton, Ohio, the eldest daughter of

Kentucky and Virginia parents. Her father, Walter Buell Hardy, was a

schoolteacher of culture whose four daughters-he also had a son,

Lewis-all taught school successfully. Irene was so named from a

character in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel Rienzi, with conscientious

regard for the original Greek pronunciation. Her mother was an

enthusiast for education, who declared that if she had twenty daughters

she would send them all to college if she could.

Irene early became a school teacher, and saved money to enable her

to enter Antioch College. As she had occasion to write in a letter to the

later president of Antioch College, Arthur E. Morgan,

I entered Antioch in September, 1861, as partial freshman. My preparatory

school had given me no Latin, no Greek, and no ancient history. I had, therefore,

to do three years' work in these subjects, which I did in two years. At the end of

that time, owing to conditions brought about by the war, the College classes

were suspended for one year and the faculty gave all their time to the preparatory


I went home to teach. To shorten my story,-I was in and out of college a

number of times to teach, until 1867, when I was nearly ready to take my degree.

Although I was matron of North Hall and teacher in the preparatory school from

1874 to 1876, I did not care to take my degree, notwithstanding I had done work

enough to entitle me to it: nor was I ever afterward a student there. In 1871 I

came to California,1 and on a return visit in 1883-4, when Dr. David Long was

President, he urged me to take my degree at the next commencement. I could not

return to do so, but the degree was granted in 1885-eighteen years after it was

mainly earned.2



Dr. Filler is Professor of American Civilization at Antioch College.

1. Irene Hardy returned to Antioch College, as indicated, for the years from 1874 to

1876, then left permanently for California.

2. Irene Hardy to Arthur E. Morgan, June 19, 1921, Hardy File, Antiochiana, Kettering

Library, Antioch College.