Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn

Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College

Time Period


Subject Categories

Activist, Education, Equal Rights, Writers

Notable Facts

Educator, author, and activist who believed in equal rights for all. Author of numerous books, including an autobiography, "Threescore". Developed a strong friendship with Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

Personal Information

Date of Birth


Date of Death


Primary Residence


Historical Significance

Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn was well-known as a poet, educator, and social reformer. She graduated from Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, Vermont in 1895. During her childhood in southern Vermont, Cleghorn came to know Dorothy Canfield Fisher, who would also become a noted writer and educator. The two women maintained a close relationship throughout their lifetimes and collaborated on a book of essays, "Fellow Captains" (1916), and "Nothing Ever Happens and How It Does" (1940). Sarah N. Cleghorn also wrote a dramatization of Fisher's novel for children, "Understood Betsy" (1934). Cleghorn attended Radcliffe College for several terms, taking courses in literature and philosophy. She then contributed short stories and poems to various popular magazines, which included Harper's and Atlantic Monthly. In 1915 she began her teaching career, working in schools that were affiliated with the workers' education movement.

She actively supported the following causes: full suffrage for women, equal rights for African-Americans, prison reform, packing house reform, and abolishment of child labor. In addition to teaching and participating in these movements, she was also the author of numerous texts, including: the novels "A Turnpike Lady" (1907), and "The Spinster" (1916); a book of poems, "Portraits and Protests" (1917); an autobiography with an introduction by Robert Frost, "Threescore" (1936); books of essays, "Poems of Peace and Freedom" (1945) and "The Seamless Robe" (1945). Cleghorn died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on April 4, 1959.

Organizations or Movements

  • Socialist Party
  • Vivisection Investigation League
  • League of Mutual Aid
  • Fellowship of Reconciliation
  • American League to Abolish Capital Punishment
  • War Resisters' League
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


  • Teacher at Brookwood School in Katonah, N.Y. (1920) and Manumit Farm in Pawling, N.Y.(1922-1929)
  • Associate professor of English at Vassar College (1930)
  • Author
  • Poet
  • Activist


  • Bachelor's Degree, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Sarah Cleghorn Link

  • Threescore

  • Schroeter, Joan Gitzel. The Canfield-Cleghorn correspondence : two lives in letters. 1993.

  • Sweterlitsch, Richard. "Sarah Cleghorn." In The Vermont Encyclopedia. Edited by John Duffy. University Press of New England, 2003.