“It is not by fear that mankind must exorcise the demons of destruction and cruelty, but by motives more reasonable, more humane, and more heroic.”

balchEmily Greene Balch started at Bryn Mawr in 1886, and graduated in 3 years, in the first graduating class. She served as the President of the first Student Government Association – now the oldest SGA in the country. Balch went to Paris as Bryn Mawr’s first European Fellow in 1890-1891: Assistance of the Poor in France, published in 1893, was a product of this trip.

In 1896 she took a job as an assistant professor at Wellesley College’s Economics Department. By 1913 she was appointed to full professor. “She emphasized in her teaching the necessity of clearing one’s mind of class and race prejudice… she was a woman of vision… her keen intelligence, her personal acquaintance with leaders in philanthropy and industry, and her compassion for the underprivileged stand out in one’s memory of her as a teacher,” said Mary A. Wyman, a former student.

Balch led the American delegation with Jane Addams to the Hague for an international Congress of Women in 1915. Women of 12 countries attended and authored possible policies to end the war. The policies were submitted to Woodrow Wilson. In 1916, she was invited to Henry Ford’s Neutral Mediation Commission in Stockholm to speak about peace at a conference following his aborted Peace Ship mission. She eventually lost her appointment at Wellesley in 1918 due to her outspokenness about pacifism and the war.

Over the years she continued to advocate for peace, serving as the secretary-treasurer of the women’s International League for Peace and Freedom from 1919 to 1922 and in 1930, she joined the commission appointed by President Hoover to investigate the occupation of Haiti. Throughout the 1930s, Balch helped Nazi victims settle in the United States and in 1936 she was elected Honorary International President of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

In 1946, Balch was the second woman ever awarded a Nobel Peace Prize: she donated the award money to the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, along with other peace-minded organizations.


Emily Greene Balch, class of 1889, Nobel Peace Prize winner

Note: Research for this profile was compiled by Emily Wiseman, as part of a Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center internship partially funded by a gift from Dick Hykes.

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125 Years of Extraordinary Alumnae