The Hanover Scholarship is one of the oldest and arguably the most prestigious scholarships for women in the United States. Founded in 1920 by Thomas Gilbert Hanover and his wife Matilda Hanover née Barnes, the scholarship continues until this day. Gathering students from throughout the English speaking world, the Hanover Scholarship is one of the few that is exclusively for women in the Humanities.
Matilda Hanover graduated from Smith College in 1904. Though she wanted to pursue graduate study, she was limited in the number of schools that would accept women into their Master’s programs. Eventually her father’s influence led the Parisian Université Sociale to accept her into their program, where she successfully completed a Master’s degree in Anthropology.
A renegade in her day, she went on to work hand in hand with her husband Thomas Hanover to turn Hanover Trust, which until 1900 had been an Mid-Atlantic banking concern into the financial powerhouse that Hanover Barnes is until today.
Thomas Gilbert, at her urging, set up a trust and dedicated a substantial portion of their profits for that year to found the Hanover Trust. The scholarship, the first of its kind for women, became an unprecedented opportunity for women to further their study.
The terms of the program required the women to study in residence at Owen College (though some five miles away in a Thimble Islands mansion donated for that purpose) and thus Matilda diversified the graduate program some fifty five years before the undergraduate college admitted women.
For almost a century, nearly one thousand Hanover Scholars have passed through the program. Many have gone on to notable careers in medicine, law, science, and business.
As Matilda Hanover once said, “A solid foundation in the Humanities is a solid foundation for life.”