Alumni Hall of Fame

Margaret O.S. Sage
Margaret O.S. Sage
Inducted September 1998

Margaret O.S. Sage


Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage graduated from Emma Willard’s school, the Troy Female Seminary — which was at the site of today’s Russell Sage College — in 1847.

In 1900 she was widowed from Russell Sage, who left her almost the whole of his fortune, some $63 million. Putting this fortune to the public good, she became one of America’s great philanthropists and among the first American women to use her wealth in this manner.

Her initial grant of $10 million to establish the Russell Sage Foundation “for social betterment” was heralded as the largest single gift to philanthropy in the history of the world. She gave Rensselaer $1 million to endow the Department of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and to build the Russell Sage Laboratory, thus doubling the value of the Institute in 1907. She contributed an additional $100,000 to build the Russell Sage Dining Hall and gave $30,000 for graduate fellowships.