Who was Jane Leonard?

Jane Leonard
March is women’s history month and we want to showcase some notable women from Indiana County.  One of those women was very influential to the Indiana community, coming here to teach at the Indiana State Normal School in 1875, Jane Elizabeth Leonard.

Jane was born on December 27, 1840 to Robert and Lydia Wilson Leonard in Clearfield County.  She furthered her education by attending Millersville State Normal School in Lancaster County, PA and upon graduation joined their faculty from 1868 to 1875 teaching History and Geography.  In 1875, Ms. Leonard accepted a position at the Indiana State Normal School, arriving in on May 18, 1875.  She had an apartment and office in what is now John Sutton Hall.  She taught history, geography, and English.  She had also served a Preceptress.  After her retirement in 1921 she became the Dean of Women.

Jane Leonard officially retired on July 1, 1921, but she continued to reside in John Sutton Hall; which her residence there became a center for returning alumni, who aptly named her “Aunt Jane.”  Not only was Jane a teacher and mentor, but she also actively supported women’s suffrage, chairing the Indiana County Ladies Democratic Committee and the Women Voters League.  At age 81, she ran for Congress to represent Indiana County in 1922, using her campaign to challenge women to be involved in politics.  That same year, one of her former students, Sarah “Sadie” McCune Gallaher, ISNS Class of 1888, was one of eight women elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Leonard Hall postcard from HGSIC postcard collection

In 1903, the ISNS Board of Trustees named the Jane E. Leonard Hall, which was located near the Oak Grove and was destroyed by fire in 1952, and the current Leonard Hall opened in 1954.  The final classes were held in Leonard Hall in the Fall of 2015 and the building is slated for demolition in the next year.  It is this month that we honor the influential women of Indiana County, starting with “Aunt Jane” Leonard.  If you have any stories that you have heard about Jane Leonard or memories of Leonard Hall we would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Published by


Through a broad range of activities, The Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County seeks to promote a greater appreciation of the Indiana community's rich heritage and a better understanding of life today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s