Caroline Hubbard Kleinstuck was born July 26, 1855 to Silas Hubbard and Mary Olivia Loomis, two enterprising, philanthropic, and politically-minded people. Both parents were community oriented, giving large sums of money to erect the People’s Unitarian Church in Kalamazoo. Mary gave money for the church to include a fully equipped women’s gymnasium. They were also staunch believers in temperance long before the main temperance movement of the 1910s. Silas Hubbard was also an abolitionist, who, being above the age of service during the Civil War, nonetheless donated upwards of 100 dollars for Union soldier’s equipment. Caroline, a small child with curly red hair, inherited both the religiosity of her parents and their political interests. Her minister described her as “abandoning her dolls” at an early age to listen to her father discuss polemics. In adulthood, this would translate into an admirable “forthrightness with controversial opinions” and deep involvement with several political enterprises, including women’s suffrage.
Caroline’s formal education began a year before her schooling, with her father (formerly a teacher) instructing her and her siblings in reading and mathematics. She later attended Mrs. L. H. Stone’s private school, and then the newly established high school in Kalamazoo—one of the first free public high schools in the country, at a time when the right to use public money for high school had just been won through a legal victory in Kalamazoo. She graduated high school in June 1871 at the age of fifteen. She matriculated at the University of Michigan in the fall of that same year.
The transition from high school to college wasn’t easy. Because of a fire that severely damaged the paper mill her father owned, her family’s financial situation was precarious. Caroline was also younger than the usual freshman student at the university, and in one of the first cohorts of women admitted there. Still, her family was determined to help her through college. Her father declared, “Little Carrie shall go to the University if I have to chop wood to keep her there!” Caroline enrolled in the Latin-Scientific course, graduating in 1875 and earning her Masters in 1876. She was the first woman to receive a Master of Science degree from U-M. After graduation, she undertook two years of at-home tutoring in French and German. Then she took a trip to Europe, where she met her humorous husband, Carl Kleinstuck, while staying with his family in Dresden, Germany. Carl followed Caroline back to America, where he worked first as an engraver at the Western Bank Note company in Chicago, and then as a dairy farmer in Kalamazoo. He was naturalized as an American citizen in 1882 and married Carolyn on May 3, 1883.
Caroline worked alongside Carl on the dairy farm, but also continued her involvement in politics, which had interested her from her youth. She campaigned ardently for women’s suffrage, was a charter member of the Michigan State Association and the Kalamazoo County League of Women Voters, a member of the American Association of University Women’s section on international relations, an organizer of the Frederick Douglass Club, andone of the first women to serve on the Republican State Committee, from 1920 to 1921. During the first World War, she became chairman of Home Service in the American Red Cross, where she created a useful cataloguing system, still used following her death. She participated in other activities as well, being a two-time Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution and an active member of both the Travel Club and the Twentieth Century Club.
Like her parents, Caroline was a philanthropist. She made the first large money donation to the University of Michigan’s Women’s League. Following her husband’s death in 1916, she also donated a 50-acre tract of land dubbed the Kleinstuck Reserve to the state for the purpose of nature instruction and youth recreation. She died on February 28, 1932, after a prolonged illness. But the impact of her life’s work—both in politics and through her donations—lived on.
- Caroline Bartlett Crane, “The Life of Caroline Irene Hubbard Kleinstuck” (1943).
- “Residence Hall Program Advances,” Michigan Alumnus 56, no. 3 (15 October 1949): 40.
- Crane, “The Life of Caroline Irene Hubbard Kleinstuck.”
Caroline I. Hubbard, Randall (Detroit, Mich.), University of Michigan Student Portraits.