Our mission is to promote an intelligent interest in political questions of the day by translating thoughts into meaningful action, and providing platforms for political advocacy. In executing this mission, the sisters of Agora uphold the pillars of Sisterhood, Citizenship, Politics, and Service.
Each year we vote upon a political and/or social issue that we believe is relevant both domestically and internationally–dedicating the fall semester on the domestic aspects of the topic and shifting to an international focus in the spring. During each semester, we seek to make a difference with regard to our chosen issue by fostering discussion, hosting lectures, organizing a fundraiser, and performing community service.
Agora, Wellesley College’s Political Society, was founded in 1890 as a freshman club named “The Cottage Street Political.” In 1892 the founding members applied to the Academic Council and were granted recognition as a Wellesley College Society alongside the Shakespeare Society, Alpha Phi Sigma, Zeta Alpha, and Tau Zeta Epsilon.
First led by Abigail Laughlin ‘1894, who later led the first successful fight for women’s suffrage in California, the society focused solely on political issues of the time including a protective tariff, free trade, and women’s rights. The society discussed political issues of the day and, over time, developed an interest in social welfare. Thus in 1896, the society began addressing issues of social justice in addition to political affairs.
In 1898, Mr. Capen, father of Agorite Mary Capen ‘1898, donated funds to build the Agora house, which has since been renovated on multiple occasions. Later in 1918, General John J. Pershing, whose wife Frances Warren also an Agorite, was made a member of the society and sent his staff flag to Agora. Each academic year, the sisters of Agora focused on a different political and/or social justice issue, including “Our Relations with England” (1898), “Labor Problems in the U.S.” (1924), “Facism in Germany & Italy” (1935) and recently, “The Prevalence of Hunger.”
Agora disbanded in 1971 due to both financial strains of maintaining the house and a changing political climate in which women were gaining and exercising more political rights. The members donated the Agora house and its contents to the college, and the building is now the Slater International Center, a vibrant component of the Wellesley College community. In 2011, Agora was revived by 7 sophomores concerned with the lack of non-partisan political discussion in combination with meaningful action and sisterhood at Wellesley.
Today, Agora embodies the same virtues of the its original predecessor of 1892: Sisterhood, Citizenship, Politics and Service. Reviving its original mission, the society continues to promote intelligent interest in the political questions of the day by translating thought into meaningful action, and providing a platform for advocacy.