|Date(s):||1857 to 1858|
|Location(s):||GREENVILLE, South Carolina|
|Tag(s):||Greenville Womans College, Greenville Female College, Greenville, SC, Women's colleges, South Carolina, Baptist Convention, Women|
|Course:||“Urban and Suburban America,” Furman University|
Mary Mauldin, a member of the first graduating class of the Greenville Baptist Female College, would have been exposed to variety of subjects throughout her academic training. According to her college’s 1857 catalog, Mary would have taken a course of study much like that of her brothers at nearby Furman during her senior year. She would have taken advanced courses like history, botany, moral and intellectual philosophy, evidences of Christianity, chemistry, logic and rhetoric. Mary recieved a seemingly progressive gender-equal education. This 'progressive education,' however, was less about producing intellectuals and more about creating successful mothers. As the South Carolina Baptist Convention concluded in their decision to start the school, women were their sons’ first and perhaps most important teachers. Through the early instruction by their mothers, young boys gained their moral compasses, their religious convictions and their veneration for honor. The education of women, therefore, was not thought of as an end in itself; it was meant to be the beginning of a cycle that would improve the education and character of future male generations. Though the mission of gender-equal education was forward-thinking for the times, the reasoning behind it was typical of the mid-nineteenth century.
The college’s 1857 catalog also indicates the school's consonance with prevailing notions of gender and intellectual station. Though the distribution of faculty members, four men to four women, seems to indicate a certain amount of gender equality, an examination of the subjects taught by each reveals an intellectual inequality. The four men each taught advanced subjects like science, ancient languages and philosophy and all worked in the collegiate department. The women, likely young and unmarried or widowed (as societal norms usually prevented married women from teaching) inhabited lower academic roles. Only one of the four taught in the collegiate department and then only penmanship and vocal music. The rest were associated with the primary and academic departments as teachers or assistants. Early Greenville Baptist Female College students were given the chance to acquire an education comparable to that of men's, but the application of their talents was limited in the 1850s to teaching briefly before marriage and child-rearing.