Susan Lincoln Mills (Tolman) (1826 - 1912)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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Immediate Family

About Susan Lincoln Mills (Tolman)

Susan Tolman Mills (1826 – 1912) was the co-founder of Mills College (formerly the Young Ladies Seminary at Benicia, California).


Mills was born on November 18, 1826, in Enosburgh, Vermont. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College (then Mount Holyoke Female Seminary) in 1845.

Mills taught at Mount Holyoke until she married the missionary Cyrus Mills in 1845. They taught in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) for many years, returning to Massachusetts in 1854.

Punahou School

In 1860 Cyrus Mills became president of Oahu College (now known as Punahou School). Susan served as a teacher at the school. They moved to California in 1864.

Mills College

Mills College was initially founded as the Young Ladies Seminary at Benicia in 1852. It was under the leadership of Mary Atkins, a graduate of Oberlin College.

In 1866, Susan and Cyrus bought the Young Ladies Seminary and renamed it Mills Seminary.

In 1871 the school was moved to Oakland, California and the school was incorporated in 1877. The school became Mills College in 1885. In 1890, after serving for decades as principal (under two presidents as well), Susan became the President of the college and held the position for 19 years.


Mills retired in 1909 and died in Oakland, California, on December 12, 1912. Susan Tolman Mills is buried at Sunnyside Cemetery, located on the Mills College Campus.

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Susan Tolman Mills's Timeline