Susan Colby (1817- 1919) was born in New London to Mary Messinger Everett and New Hampshire Governor Anthony Colby. An intelligent young woman, Colby studied at the Academy at New Hampton, N.H., and later took a course at the Emma Willard Seminary in Troy, N.Y.
After completing her studies, Colby took a position as secretary at the Young Ladies Literary and Missionary Society of New Hampton, N.H. She was energetic and enjoyed life, and believed that all people – including women – deserved happiness and access to useful service.
In 1838, Colby was appointed as the first principal of New London Academy in New London, N.H., and she applied herself to her position with dedication. She was pleased to be a part of a school where young women could receive higher education and the same advantages that their brothers and male friends could access. Colby strongly believed that young women should be able to pursue English, modern languages, Latin, mathematics, science and philosophy.
After her success at the fledgling New London Academy, Colby served as Lady Principal at her alma mater. In 1851 she married James B. Colgate and moved to New York, but remained involved in the development of New London Academy. Colgate Hall, the central classroom and office building on campus, was the gift of her daughter, Mary Colgate. This relationship with the Colby family was recognized in 1878 when New London Academy was renamed Colby Academy.