The daughter of a wealthy coal merchant and widow of publishing scion J. Blair Scribner, Lucy Scribner was almost 50 when she came to Saratoga. Deeply religious, inordinately shy and physically restricted, she disliked frivolous parties and frowned on two of the most popular local entertainments and industries, horse racing and gambling. She decided to invest her inheritance in something more worthwhile: She would start a school where young women of the town could learn skills that would make them self-supporting.
So with the help of other civic-minded neighbors, Lucy Scribner created the Young Women's Industrial Club of Saratoga Springs, whose first curriculum was a blend of practical courses in typewriting, bookkeeping, textile arts, physical education and music and dance. Today we may snicker at the courses in sewing, shirtwaist making and millinery, but these were among the few fields in which women could manage businesses, and those courses were embedded in a broader context of creative expression and aesthetic appreciation.
By 1908, the industrial club had 436 students, male and female, many commuting from the surrounding towns and countryside.