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Ipswich Female Seminary Collection, 1828-[present] (Bulk: 1828-1875)
2 boxes (7.5 linear in.)
Collection number: MS 0556 (LD 7093.38 I6)

Abstract:
Ipswich Female Seminary. Founded in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1828. Papers consist of catalogues, circulars and announcements, administrative and regulatory documents, records for the Society for the Education of Females, correspondence, ceremonial records, published materials, and photographs documenting primarily the philosophies of the school, the activities of students and teachers, and the administrative work of Zilpah P. (Grant) Banister and Mary Lyon.

Terms of Access and Use:

Unrestricted.

Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
South Hadley, MA

Biographical Note

Ipswich Female Seminary opened in April, 1828 in Ipswich Massachusetts. Zilpah P. Grant (later Banister) was the first principal and Mary Lyon was her assistant. It was dedicated to training girls to become teachers and missionaries; students did practice teaching under the guidance of a teacher. The average enrollment was 116 students per term. The course of study included English, arithmetic, geography, chemistry, human physiology, history, the natural sciences, religion, vocal music, and calisthenics. The Seminary sent eighty-eight teachers to the western and southern states to work as educational missionaries. The school closed in 1839 due to Grant's retirement and reopened in 1844 under the supervision of graduate Eunice Caldwell Cowles and her husband, the Reverend John P. Cowles. It closed permanently in 1876 because of the increasing number of public schools.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ipswich Female Seminary Collection consists of catalogues, circulars and announcements, administrative and regulatory documents, records of the Society for the Education of Females, a student document, correspondence, a speech, ceremonial records, a book, published articles, and photographs. Most of the collection concerns the courses and principles of the Seminary and the activities of its students, teachers, and alumnae. The catalogues list the names and home addresses of the students, names of teachers and trustees, and provide information on the curriculum, objectives, academic calendar, and fees of the Seminary. The collection also includes publicity pamphlets and reports of the 1836 and 1837 winter terms, as well as published and unpublished rules and regulations for students and teachers. The collection includes records for the Society for the Education of Females, which loaned money to Ipswich students. These records consist of the constitution, regulations, notes, as well as records of the beneficiaries and benefactors of the Society. The correspondence was written by and to the Seminary students, alumnae, and faculty between 1830-1864, mostly describing students' impressions of the Seminary, accommodations, daily schedules and traditions, as well as the characters of Zilpah P. Grant and Mary Lyon. One letter from 1849 recounts Lyon's death. Other information in the collection includes the address "Hints on Reading" given at the Seminary by Reverend Daniel Dana in 1834, as well as the "Order of Exercises," which contains the schedule for examinations and music recitations, "Farewell Songs" and graduating ceremony program of the school. There is also historical information on the Seminary documenting the founding and importance of the school in advancing female education, and the influence of teachers Grant, Lyon, and graduate Eunice Caldwell Cowles on the Seminary. There are portraits of several students and stereoscopic photographs showing the Seminary building.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Preferred Citation

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

Ipswich Female Seminary Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts

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

Email Reference Form: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm
URL: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/
Language
English.
Sponsor
Encoding funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Contents List
Catalogues,
1828-1875
3 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Consist of Seminary catalogues for 1828-1875 (with gaps). The earlier catalogues list the names of students and their home addresses, as well as the names of faculty and trustees. Later catalogues contain additional information about the school's educational principles, curriculum, academic calendar, and fees. The 1839 catalogue contains an historical article on the school and an announcement of Zilpah P. Grant's retirement from the Seminary. It lists the names of all the pupils that completed the course of study under Grant and Mary Lyon at Ipswich as well as at Adams Female Academy in Derry, New Hampshire. Also listed are the occupation, marital status, and place of residence of each student as of 1839.

Catalogues,
1828-1832/33

Box 1: folder 1
Catalogues,
1833-1836

Box 1: folder 2
Catalogues,
1837-1839,1850,1852,1867,1874/75

Box 1: folder 3
Circulars and Announcements,
circa 1830-1836
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Circulars and announcements consist chiefly of publicity pamphlets discussing the importance of instructing females and the role of the Seminary in female education and religious instruction. An article entitled "Benefits of Female Education," thought to be written by Zilpah P. Grant, discusses the importance of female education to society and how the lack of finances is a great impediment to this cause. The pamphlets urge friends and patrons to donate funds to support educating young women. Also included in the series is a newspaper notice, probably from the 1830s, announcing the commencement of winter term at the Seminary.

Circulars and Announcements,
circa 1830-1836

Box 1: folder 4
Administrative Documents,
1828-1839
2 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

The administrative documents consist of reports of the 1836 and 1837 winter terms, statistics relating to students and alumnae, and a note to the trustees. The reports give the number of students and teachers at the institution and discuss the entrance requirements, course of study, and curriculum. They comment on the subjects studied such as geography, arithmetic, English grammar, chemistry, human physiology, vocal music, religion, and calisthenics. The reports also mention a "society for correspondence and for gaining and communicating general information" at the Seminary, and discuss the mental and moral culture at the school, in addition to the boarding responsibilities of the young women. Statistics in this series were probably recorded by Eunice Caldwell Cowles and they list the names, marital status, and occupations as of 1839 of all the pupils that had completed the course of study under Zilpah P. Grant and Mary Lyon at Ipswich as well as at Adams Female Academy in Derry, New Hampshire. Also included is a note written by Grant to the trustees in 1828 certifying that five students are entitled to diplomas.

Administrative Documents,
1828-1836

Box 1: folder 5
Statistical Report,
1839

Folio
Society for the Education of Females,
1835-circa 1841
2 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

This series contains the Constitution and Rules of Regulation of the Society, which was established to assist students at the Seminary in their pursuit of education and Christian benevolence. There is a list of its subscribers and benefactors, as well as abstracts of letters written to the organization by student beneficiaries pertaining to their activities after leaving the Seminary. Also included are financial notes and historical information including the number of beneficiaries and total amount dispensed by the Society.

Society for the Education of Females; Records,
1835-circa 1840

Box 1: folder 7
Abstract of letters,
circa 1835-circa 1841

Folio
Regulatory Documents,
circa 1830-1834
2 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Regulatory documents include published and unpublished rules and regulations for the conduct of students and teachers at the Seminary. There are directives pertaining to teacher relations and interactions with students, as well as "Memoranda" intended to assist teachers in regulating and supervising students. Also included are several self-assessment notes by the students reporting their adherence to the school rules and regulations.

Regulatory Documents,
1830-1834

Box 1: folder 9
Memoranda,
circa 1830

Folio
Course Records,
1827-1828
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Course records consist of a chronological chart prepared by student Ellen Odrione in 1827-1828. The chart illustrates the Biblical history of the world from Creation to Canaan.

Chronological chart of world history,
1827-1828

Folio
Correspondence,
1829-1864
3 folders

Arrangement:

Chronological or by name of each correspondent

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Correspondence consists of letters written by and to Seminary students, alumnae, and teachers. The letters describe students' impressions upon arriving at the Seminary, the accommodations, daily schedule, and customs, as well as the characters of Zilpah P. Grant and Mary Lyon. One student describes her journey to the Seminary from Ohio. The correspondence of Eliza J. Snow for 1863-1864 mentions her student allowance and an outbreak of smallpox in New England. Several of the letters document the lives of alumnae missionaries and teachers. A letter by Eunice Strong (March, 1849) describes Mary Lyon's death and her thoughts about Lyon's contribution to female education. Also of note are three letters by Maria Cowles, one written while she was a student at Buckland Female School in 1829, in which she describes the accommodations, studies, government, and religion at that institution under Mary Lyon. She also describes Lyon as a teacher and mentor. The other two letters written in 1831 discuss her life as a teacher at Ipswich, the number and ages of the students, the curriculum and religious life at the school, and the Seminary's commitment to training female teachers. She also mentions her health and the method of instruction she employs in her vocal music and composition classes.

Correspondence of Maria Cowles,
1829-1831

Box 1: folder 12
Correspondence,
1840-1844

Box 1: folder 13
Correspondence,
1830-1864

Box 1: folder 14
Address,
1834
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

The series consists of two copies of a published address entitled "Hints on Reading" that was delivered at the Seminary by the Reverend Daniel Dana on January 15, 1834. In the address Dana advises his audience on the importance and principles of reading and provides a selection of books, including the Bible and works by Milton, the Earl of Chatham (i.e., William Pitt), Daniel Webster, and Hannah More.

Address,
1834

Box 1: folder 15
Ceremonial Records,
1833-1867
2 folders

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Ceremonial records include the 1836 and 1838 winter term "Farewell Songs" and the 1866 and 1867 "Order of Exercises" programs of the Seminary. The programs contain the schedule for examinations and music recitations as well as the graduating ceremony program, a list of students receiving diplomas, and the senior class farewell song. Also included is the diploma for Emily Abbott, an 1833 graduate of the Seminary.

Ceremonial Records,
1833-1867

Box 1: folder 16
Diploma for Emily Abott,
1833

Folio
Book,
1872
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

The book entitled "School Days of Beulah Romney" was written by Julia A. Eastman, who is believed to have attended the Seminary. It was published in 1872. The book is a fictionalized account of life at the Seminary, probably based on the life of Eunice Caldwell Cowles.

School Days of Beaulah Romney,
1872

Box 2: folder 1
Historical Information,
1834-
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Historical information includes historical sketches, notes, a speech, and an article. The materials concern the founding of the Seminary and its role in advancing female education in the United States. A semi-fictional narrative published in the journal "The Massachusetts Teacher" in 1850 depicts the teaching career of an typical Ipswich graduate after leaving the Seminary. An article entitled "Ipswich Female Seminary: An Educational Experience" published in v.120 (1984) of "Essex Institute Historical Collections" gives a thorough account of the history and significance of the school. Also included are copies of articles discussing Mary Lyon, Zilpah P. Grant (later Banister), and Eunice Caldwell Cowles.

Historical Information,
1834-

Box 2: folder 2
Photographs,
circa 1860s
1 folder

Arrangement:

Arranged chronologically.

Restrictions on access:

Unrestricted.

Scope and content:

Photographs consist of a portrait of Ipswich students Elizabeth Livermore, Sadie Ross, and "Miss Trimball," as well as a stereoscopic photograph of the Seminary building. The photographs appear to date from the 1860s.

Photographs,
circa 1860s

Box 2: folder 3

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

Subjects
  • Banister, Zilpah P. Grant (Zilpah Polly Grant), 1794-1874.
  • Cowles, Eunice C. (Eunice Caldwell), 1811-1903.
  • Lyon, Mary, 1797-1849.
  • Education - Massachusetts - History - 19th century - Sources.
  • Ipswich Female Seminary (Ipswich, Mass.)
  • Schools - Massachusetts - History - 19th century - Sources.
  • Society for the Education of Females (Ispwich, Mass.)
  • Student aid - Massachusetts - History - 19th century - Sources.
  • Teachers - Massachusetts - Ipswich.
  • Young women - Education - Massachusetts - History - 19th century - Sources.

Genre terms
  • Corporation records.
  • Letters.
  • Photographs.


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