Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
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.
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.
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
" 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?
That's after you passed admission requirements.
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.
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.
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