|Location(s):||GREENVILLE, South Carolina|
|Tag(s):||women's education, Educational System|
|Course:||“America, 1820-1890 (2010),” Furman University|
|Rating:||3.5 (2 votes)|
The first women’s college in the “Golden Corner” of South Carolina was established in 1856 under the name Greenville Baptist Female College. It was affiliated with the Baptist Church, but students were from various denominations. The first course catalogue was printed in 1857. It gives a list of the trustees, faculty and students. The college was established in order to help educate the middle class and was similar to a twenty-first century high school. At the time, state school’s had not been established. The only other place a student could get an education was a “free school”. However, the few “free schools” that did exist were not well financed or well taught. They were considered a place for the lower class families to send their children. The Greenville Woman’s College was established to help educate the children of the middle class such as villagers and farmers. Most of the students were between the ages of ten and fifteen years of age and were from the Greenville County area. Before entering the college most students had prior primary private instruction. All students were not required to live on campus; however, it was highly encouraged. The school year was comprised of four twelve week terms and the students had a one month break during December.
The course catalog describes the typical class schedule of the female student. The student was not required to stay all four years. In fact the graduating class of 1857 only contained three students. If the students chose to complete four years the catalogue delineates the courses they would take each year. During the first year a student would take courses in spelling and writing. The second year they would continue classes in spelling in writing, but would also take geography, arithmetic, English, and grammar. The third year the student would take similar courses as the second year, but they were higher level along with parsing (sentence analysis) and history. The fourth year, which is the most advanced year, a student enrolled in natural philosophy, chemistry, logic, moral philosophy, Latin, and Greek. The course schedule included various unusual and unique courses. Several courses such as classical languages and history were not typically taught to young women at the time.
A female received a superior education while attending the Greenville Woman’s College, though the graduates still had a difficult time finding a job. About sixty percent of the women who graduated in the nineteenth century taught in a school at least briefly before marriage. Sadly, teaching was the only occupation open to young women outside of the home. If a female did not become a teacher, she was either forced to stay at home or to marry. However, most graduates did return home because graduates who took jobs showed that their fathers could not support them.
The Greenville Woman’s College was one of the few quality colleges established during the antebellum period. The college was quite different from other surrounding female educational institutions established during the time because it viewed females as capable of learning anything a male could. Unlike other colleges of the time, it did not force females into taking courses that prepared them for marriage. The Greenville Woman’s College regarded females as intellectual beings, something that the whole world had not yet come to terms with.