FITCH, SARAH ELIZABETH (14 March 1819-10 April 1893) helped organize and served as the first president of both the Women's Christian Association (WCA, 1867) (see YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION) and the Women's Temperance League of Cleveland (March 1874). Born in Cherry Valley, New York, daughter of Gurden and Hannah (Peck) Fitch, her family moved to Cleveland in 1827. She was a local pioneer in kindergarten EDUCATION and in 1837 opened a school at Huron and Erie Streets which was notable for its approach to teaching small children. In 1867, concerned about the religious and moral lives of young WOMEN working away from home, she helped create the WCA, the 6th such association in the U. S. Fitch was president of the organization until her death in 1893. Her interests in TEMPERANCE and early childhood education shaped the work of the WCA. In 1882 the organization incorporated the Young Women's Temperance League and formed the Young Ladies Branch of the WCA, which focused on CHILD CARE and kindergartens. A decade later it became the independent CLEVELAND DAY NURSERY & FREE KINDERGARTEN ASSOCIATION. In her temperance work, Fitch participated in a prayer meeting outside a brewery in BEREA and in a 6-week appeal to bar owners to cease serving strong drink. She also taught Sunday school at FIRST PRESBYTERIAN (OLD STONE) CHURCH.

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