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About Agnes Irvine Scott

About Agnes Irvine Scott

Agnes Irvine Scott

The story of Agnes Irvine Scott and the college that bears her name is one of faith, courage and independence. The college's late-19th century beginnings, rooted in the generosity, faith and progressive thinking of a small group of Presbyterians, very much reflect the values and ideals of Agnes Irvine, mother of one of the college's original founders. Irvine was born to an impoverished family in 1799.

Agnes departed her homeland in 1816 at 17 with her twice-widowed mother, leaving behind her home in Newry. Buoyed by the works of Burns, Shakespeare and the Bible, and hoping for a better life with family members, she journeyed to Alexandria, Pennsylvania. There she married John Scott, a widower with five children. Together they had seven more children.

Agnes Irvine Scott lived long enough to see her family divided by the Civil War. One son, John Scott, became a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania. Another, George Washington Scott, became a successful businessman in Florida and Georgia. He, along with the Rev. Frank Henry Gaines and a group of Presbyterian leaders, founded an institution of higher learning for women in Decatur, Georgia, in 1889.

By helping begin the institution that eventually bore his mother's name, George Washington Scott created a dynamic memorial to a woman who valued family as well as faith and learning, first in her native Ireland and then as an immigrant mother in America.

Agnes Irvine Scott's courageous life and independent spirit spanned two centuries and two cultures; they continue to serve as an inspiration for Agnes Scott College today.