Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
Mount Holyoke College seal
Banister papers, 1803-1971.
6 boxes (1.1 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 0506 (LD 7093.37 B33)

Banister, Zilpah Polly Grant, 1794-1874; Educator. Papers consist of correspondence, writings, biographical sketches, maps and charts, clippings, memorabilia, and photographs. Primarily containing correspondence to family and colleagues pertaining to her work at Adams Female Academy and Ipswich Female Seminary.

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Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Zilpah P. Grant Banister was born on May 30, 1794 in Norfolk, Connecticut. In 1820 she enrolled in the Byfield Female Seminary in Masachusetts under Reverend Joseph Emerson. She then taught at various schools around Norfolk until she began organizing the Adams Female Academy in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which opened in 1824. Here she worked as principal with Mary Lyon as her assistant. In 1828 she received an invitation to organize a school in Ipswich, Massachusetts. She remained at Ipswich Female Seminary until her retirement in 1839. On September 7, 1841, Grant married William B. Banister and moved with him to Newburyport, Massachusetts. She continued to actively promote women's education, and published a pamphlet entitled "Hints on education" in 1856. Zilpah P. Grant Banister died on December 3, 1874 in Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Zilpah Polly Grant Banister Papers contain correspondences, 1824-1874; writings, 1820-1874; biographical sketches, 1803-1971; and maps and charts, circa 1819-1836. Of particular note is the collection of letters written to and by Banister. Banister's sixty letters to family members, former students and colleagues reflect her activities at Adams Female Academy and Ipswich Female Seminary and provide information about her views on education and religion, her travels, and her health and financial affairs. Many of the hundred seventy-two letters are from former Adams and Ipswich students who describe their work as teachers and often explain their inability to repay loans from the Society for the Education of Females. Other correspondents include Mary Lyon, Catherine Beecher, Joseph Emerson, and Cynthia Farrar and Jane Van Allen, missionaries active in Ahmadnagar, India and Gabon, Africa. Also of particular interest are maps and charts composed by Banister. This collection also includes other writings by Banister, notably a notebook kept as a student at Byfield Academy in 1820, several essays and notes on teaching methods, circa 1828-1856, and two autobiographical sketches. In addition, these papers contain notes and clippings, assorted memorabilia, and photographs and a portrait of Banister.

Material from this collection is available in an online digital format.

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Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Zilpah Grant Banister Papers, Mount Holyoke College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts

Additional Formats

The library also has 1 reel of microfilm (positive) of the collection.

History of the Collection

Additional Information
Contact Information
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075

Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370

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