A History of Education at Woodward

The Woodward School was founded in 1869 by Dr. Ebenezer and Mary Greenleaf Woodward to establish a school for girls in preparation for higher education. Woodward continues to operate on Hancock Street in Quincy in the original, historic, wooden school building that welcomed the first class of seven teachers and seventy-six students, on April 10, 1894. Woodward continues to prepare young women for college and life as engaged citizens, through the present day.

Dr. Ebenezer Woodward was a distinguished and beloved physician who practiced medicine in Quincy for nearly half a century. Dr. Woodward was a cousin and family doctor of our nations second president John Adams. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1817 and moved to Boston, where he studied medicine under the guidance of his uncle, Dr. Samuel Adams. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1823 and began his medical practice in Quincy. One of Quincy’s prominent citizens, Colonel Thomas Greenleaf, was being treated by a leading Boston physician who held out no hope for Colonel Greenleaf’s recovery. Dr. Woodward diagnosed, treated, and eventually cured Colonel Greenleaf. Later, Dr. Woodward married Mary Wroe Greenleaf, Colonel Greenleaf’s youngest daughter. The Woodwards' home was located on what is now the site of the Thomas Crane Public Library. Dr. Woodward died on May 21, 1869 and Mary Greenleaf passed away on January 23, 1870. The couple were childless, and concurred in leaving their combined estates to establish Woodward.

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Eva Phillips Boyd, who entered Woodward in 1894 and graduated in 1899, wrote “How exciting was that opening day in September! How important we felt getting acquainted with girls from different parts of Quincy! How fresh and shiningly new it was! Wholly impressive and beautiful, all its new wood and varnish and furniture! How delightful to have perfectly new school books and to own them! And most of all, how wonderful were the teachers!”


Carrie E. Small was 29 years of age when she became the first Principal of The Woodward School. After one year on the job, she wrote, “The work of The School speaks in no uncertain terms, in the improved carriage of the scholars, their increased ability to think for themselves, to grasp new concepts, as well as in a marked esprit de corps, which is so manifest a feature of the School.”

The first graduation ceremonies were held on the evening of June 17, 1896 at City Hall in Quincy. The speaker was the President of Amherst College, Merrill Gates. His topic was, “The New Education for Women and the Old Time Graces.”

Originally a high school, Woodward now encompasses grades 6 through 12. The current student body is comprised of girls from over twenty communities and foreign countries. Woodward's rich history continues to guide its unique mission of preparing young women to be educated, engaged, and successful in the times in which they live.