" Select Female Seminary ", Where Brains And Lace Shook Hands

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JPK Huson 1863

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This elegant notion combining fashion and ' equestrian exercise ' was considered an ' accomplishment ' de rigor for young ladies hopeful of adorning society's upper realms. Image appears to be British ( unless anyone is aware of a castle around here with beach front access, as in this landscape ), unsurprising since so many expectations like this for ladies made the trip across The Pond. Don't get carried away by all the frou frou and nostalgia. Learning to ride was the least taxing portion in a lot of young ladies' educations.

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Quartered in Nashville's female seminary. We see ' female seminary ' make an appearance throughout the war, turned into hospitals, evacuated, captured and like Charleston's, burned. But what were they?

Have an idea we tend to be a little misguided or at least have a hazy notion about how the well-heeled regarded educating women. Seems to be an ' either or ' involved. Either they conformed to modern notions of who our ancestors should have been or we ignore them. The higher the education, the less we're interested in them. Maybe take another look. Disclaimer ( please read ) being no, not all female seminaries were the same. Courses taken and ' mission statements ' tend to awfully similar.

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Fredericksburg's female seminary was founded a few decades pre-war. By no means singular, the curriculum, routine and admissions requirements would not have shamed a military academy. NYPL

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" Afterwards pursue the study of Latin, French, Drawing, etc. ". Those usual, indispensable portions of a female's education had to wait. There's trig to get through.

Who knows, maybe because even in 2019 women like Dr. Mary Walker and Dr. Harriet Austin seem to be viewed as peculiar. No, just professionals who found era fashion an impediment to the job. Choosing to dress differently than how we feel a woman should have dressed in ' our ' era isn't helpful. We're smitten by vanished skills, those' accomplishments ' necessary to be considered a lady. Petite point cross stitch, embroidery, deportment, etiquette, equestrian exercise ( their words, not mine ) and heck, how to pour the tea. Godey's and Demorests left us delightful images where silks, satins, laces and cottons draped over hoops appeal to the girl in all of us. You wore those, embroidered, had tea in exquisite porcelain cups, complained about The Help, maybe did some watercolors then put on your riding habit and risked death in a sideways, saddle with a uni-stirrup. OK maybe. But not so fast.

Look more closely at Godey's, any issue. Rest of the story is in plain sight. Chemistry, literary discussions, anthropology, geography and yes, a good grasp of the economy were assumed the reader. All the frill and frou frou were draped over an education that would stretch a high school senior today. We hear all about how say, Mary Lincoln and her sisters attended a ' select female seminary ', how Carrie Sheads presided over Oakhill in Gettysburg, how young ladies worth the name graduated one- before marriage. But. What did they do there?

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That's after you passed admission requirements.

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Tough crowd. At 16, the admission age, this was your expected base level education.

Answer is yes, became proficient in all those ' accomplishments '. AND all the rest, too.

From wealthy families or no, you brought 1 spoon, your own bedding and sometimes one's own bed, still pitched in for ' food and lights ' plus a fee of $80. a year. Little stark in some- Troy, NY's ' select female seminary ', pre-war. The ' recitation room '. There was one in Trumansburg too- not a faint whisper of it can we find. Have a memory book of my grgrgrandmother's from there.
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From above- recitation room, Troy, N.Y. Looks extremely chilly, too. Note globe!

There was a huge emphasis on ' moral development, you brought your own Bible, hymnal and whichever book on religiously based moral teachings each school adhered to.

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The young woman receiving this diploma probably went on to her ' season ', ornamented society, engaged in balls and parties, could play faultless piano, displayed her water colors, embroidery and prowess on a horse while wearing a fashionable riding habit. She was also pretty darn brainy. If she wasn't, this diploma from a ' select female seminary ' would not have been hers. LoC
 

RobertP

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Hi JPK. I remember a wonderful pic you posted of yourself on a horse in England IIRC. . .

Anyway, my great grandmother and her 2 sisters attended Augusta Female Seminary (now Mary Baldwin) starting with her in the late 1860s. I’ve posted this photo before but will do again. I also have the seminary catalog with courses and fees. It seems very rigorous compared to today.

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JPK Huson 1863

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Hi JPK. I remember a wonderful pic you posted of yourself on a horse in England IIRC. . .

Anyway, my great grandmother and her 2 sisters attended Augusta Female Seminary (now Mary Baldwin) starting with her in the late 1860s. I’ve posted this photo before but will do again. I also have the seminary catalog with courses and fees. It seems very rigorous compared to today.

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View attachment 218572

Yes, and we had side saddle, too!

Thanks very much for these, and the information. Beyond being yet another riveting look at your family ( and thank you! ),really helpful underlining the point here. We're so caught up in how attractive era images ( and legends... ) of women are and so enchanted by Demorest, Godey's and a few others, women of the era seem disallowed any genuine personalities, brains or life outside hoops and babies.

Your family image could be used for ' pretty ' purposes when it's a group of gals who were apparently comfortable with trig, for Heaven's sake. No math-head here, trig defeated me ( or bored, can't decide the chicken/egg ). Took Latin as an elective but it sure wasn't part of requirements and Virgil made no appearance in even advanced curriculum.

Ahem. Feel free to share more..... . That would be please. :angel:
 
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RobertP

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Yes, and we had side saddle, too!

Thanks very much for these, and the information. Beyond being yet another riveting look at your family ( and thank you! ),really helpful underlining the point here. We're so caught up in how attractive era images ( and legends... ) of women are and so enchanted by Demorest, Godey's and a few others, women of the era seem disallowed any genuine personalities, brains or life outside hoops and babies.

Your family image could be used for ' pretty ' purposes when it's a group of gals who were apparently comfortable with trig, for Heaven's sake. No math-head here, trig defeated me ( or bored, can't decide the chicken/egg ). Took Latin as an elective but it sure wasn't part of requirements and Virgil made no appearance in even advanced curriculum.

Ahem. Feel free to share more..... . That would be please. :angel:
I have a little more stuff and will get back to it after my Saints beat up the Eagles today. :smile:

I remember that pic in the thread of members’ photos, it was very Ralph Lauren-esque. Truth.
 

Bruce Vail

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Yes it is. I believe Mary Baldwin was the firsthead mistress at the seminary and at some point they named it after her.
Thanks. I visited Mary Baldwin many, many years ago. I checked the wiki and it is called Mary Baldwin University now, and admits male students also.
 

GS

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Very interesting post! Women were clearly given opportunity to become educated in those times.
 
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Bruce Vail

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Very interesting post! Women were clearly given opportunity to become educated in those times.
Well...no. The family members of wealthy/affluent white men had some educational opportunities in limited areas of the country. That excluded almost all women from that kind of benefit.
 
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