Alice Gordon Gulick 

(Boston, 1847- London, 1903)

Missionary, educator and founder of the International Institute for Girls in Spain

Alice Gordon He was born on August 8, 1847 in Boston, into a family with deep religious beliefs. His father, James M. Gordon, was an active member of the Congregationalist Church and treasurer of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions)

He attended Mount Holyoke Seminary (later Mount Holyoke College) graduating in 1867. It is at Mount Holyoke that he experienced the value of higher education and also decided to dedicate his life to the service of the Congregationalist Church. The years spent there and the intellectual influence of Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke, would largely define his life and his way of thinking in many different aspects.

After completing his studies, he taught in Boston and Mount Holyoke. In 1871 she married Reverend William Hooker Gulick (1835-1922), a Protestant missionary appointed shortly before her marriage to represent Spain for the American Board of Foreign Missions. Alice G. Gulick was also appointed as the Women's Board of Missions representative. The day after their wedding they embarked on the ship Siberia, bound for Liverpool from where they would move to Spain. The Gulick couple, after touring the entire country, decided to settle in Santander in 1872.

In 1877 Alice Gordon Gulick opened a small boarding school for young people in her home in Santander, the seed of the future International Institute. From then on, and without interruption, Mrs. Gulick dedicated herself to what would literally be her life project: the creation of a Mount Holyoke in Spain, where young Spanish women could experience a high quality education.

In 1892 with the constitution of the International Institute for Girls in Spain in accordance with the laws of the State of Massachusetts and independent of American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions he took a step of enormous importance for the perpetuation of his legacy in Spain. The purpose of the new corporation would be "to establish and maintain an institution for the education of young women in San Sebastian." The constitution of this corporation would allow it, on the one hand, to raise funds for its project and, on the other, to acquire the necessary buildings in Spain.

In this period, the first contacts with Gumersindo de Azcárate and with the environment of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza took place, a relationship that intensified in the first decades of the 1898th century. During the period between 1903 and 1898 Alice Gulick lived in the US dedicated to raising funds for her Spanish project. In XNUMX she spent a few months, along with her daughter Grace at Camp Long, New Hampshire, where Spanish prisoners of war in Cuba were held. There she carried out a magnificent job of supporting these soldiers by serving as an interpreter.

From 1890 until the date of her death, Alice Gulick devoted herself tirelessly to raising funds for her Spanish project. This work culminated in 1902 with the acquisition of the building at Fortuny 53 or "Mother House" (currently the Ortega-Marañón Foundation) and, a year later, the lot at Miguel Ángel 8, where the International Institute is currently located. Thus, the dream of Alice Gulick became a reality, a complete campus where to offer young Spanish women a top quality education in an environment suitable for that purpose. The buildings, equipped with laboratories, a gym and a library, were surrounded by splendid gardens where games and sports could be practiced in the open air.

Alice Gordon Gulick died at the age of fifty-six, having dedicated more than half of them to Spain, her "adoptive country" as she herself considered it. She did not have an easy life as three of her seven children died at a very young age, another two died adults so that she was only survived by two daughters, Elizabeth and Grace. She died on September 14, 1903 in London and at her express wish she is buried in the Madrid Civil Cemetery.

Alice Gordon Gulick's legacy transcends the walls of the College Hall as a result of his involvement with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, he achieved the support of a group of prominent and influential personalities from the New England diplomatic, university and political spheres. That group that not only made it possible to raise the necessary funds to build the College Hall of Miguel Ángel 8, but also constituted an incipient network of contacts on both sides of the Atlantic that years later would crystallize in the participation of a not insignificant group of Spanish women in educational exchanges between Spain and the United States in the twenties and thirties of the century. XX.

 Pilar Piñon Varela

 Image: Alice Gordon Gulick in her college years as a student at Mount Holyoke Seminary (1867). Mount Holyoke College Archives, South Hadley, Massachusetts, United States.


More information:

Gordon, Elizabeth Putnam. “Alice Gordon Gulick: Her Life and Work in Spain”. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1917.

Zulueta, Carmen de. "One hundred years of education of Spanish women" (2d ed.). Madrid: Castalia, 1992.


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