Ipswich Female Seminary
|President||Zilpah P. Grant Banister|
42°40′48″N 70°50′13″W / 42.6799°N 70.837°W
Ipswich Female Seminary was an American female seminary in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The institution was an early school for the secondary and tertiary-level education of young women. Enrollment averaged 116 students. According to Academy records, 88 of the school's graduates went on to teach as educational missionaries in the western and southern United States.
The building occupied by the Ipswich Female Seminary, and which was employed simply for purposes of instruction and for study, was erected in 1825 by a joint-stock company incorporated under an Act of the General Court of Massachusetts. The property and affairs of the company were committed to a board of trustees, and so remained for about 24 years, when it was purchased by the new proprietor and principal of the Seminary, Rev. John P. Cowles.
Upon the erection of the building, a school for young women was immediately opened by the Rev. Hervey Wilbur, a teacher and a lecturer on astronomy, who was aided by several competent and accomplished women. Wilbur was succeeded by the Rev. James M. Ward, of Abington, Massachusetts, under whose guidance and instruction the school was opened to both sexes.
In 1828, Miss Zilpah P. Grant, later known as Mrs. William B. Banister of Newburyport, Massachusetts, accompanied by her capable and efficient assistant, Miss Mary Lyon, on the invitation of the trustees, transferred their school of young women from Derry, New Hampshire, to Ipswich. Grant had previously been a teacher and Lyon a student at an academy for female students in Byfield, Massachusetts. Under their joint administration, though each was occasionally absent, Lyon for her winter school in the western part of the State, and Grant in pursuit of health improvement, the school became prominent. Students came from all parts of the U.S., and even from other countries.
In 1835, Lyon relinquished her post as assistant principal of the Ipswich Seminary, and gave her time and energy to founding in 1837 of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Her success in this plan, the withdrawal of her influence from the Ipswich Seminary, and the failure of Grant's health, induced the latter, in 1839, to resign her position, and leave the Seminary in the hands of the trustees, who engaged various teachers and kept up a small school until 1844.
In 1844, it was reopened by Eunice Caldwell Cowles, an Ipswich graduate, and her husband John P. Cowles, a minister. The school was renamed "Female Seminary" in 1848. Under the care and instruction of the Cowles, and with the aid of efficient and accomplished assistants, the Seminary continued with varying prosperity until it was suspended in the fall of 1876,  due to the increasing availability of public schools, which had reduced the need for educational institutions of this type.
Course of studies
Pupils were not accepted based on examination, but, if of suitable age, upon application, and then classed according to their abilities and attainments, their own and their parents’ views, and their probable future course of life.
The school's focus was on preparing girls for careers as teachers and missionaries. It offered a "rigorous curriculum", including study of English, arithmetic, geography, chemistry, human physiology, history, the natural sciences, religion, vocal music, and calisthenics, and placed an emphasis on "standards of personal conduct and discipline". The institution had a chemical laboratory and a good philosophical cabinet and apparatus.
Teachers encouraged students in questioning and analysis, in addition to comprehension. As part of their preparation, students did practice teaching with guidance from a teacher.
Upon the completion of the established and liberal course of study, students were graduated with public exercises and a diploma. The custom of giving diplomas to young women on their completing a regular and prescribed course of study, was introduced by Grant at Derry, and brought by her to Ipswich. For years, hers was the only school for young women in which this practice was adopted. Neither the printed course of study nor the record of the catalogue ever fully exhibited the work done in the school. Students of a high grade often exceeded the requirements and distanced the report of the catalogue.
Means of support
The institution was supported by tuition, with very little aid from other sources. Special benefactions for deserving scholars were a frequent occurrence; but of invested funds, the institution never had a dollar. The charges for board, and for tuition in all departments, were uniformly moderate. Simplicity in dress, in manners, and in character, was assiduously and successfully cultivated. The teachers thus aimed to bring the advantages of the school within the reach of young women born, not to affluence, but to exertion.
The pupils were accommodated in private boarding-houses, from four to twelve ordinarily in one family. The health of the students was remarkably good. During the Cowles' administration, a period of 32 years, only two pupils died while they were members of the school, and one of those brought the fatal disease with her. This result was believed to be due to the sunny and airy exposure of the building, to the limited number of pupils in each boarding-house, to the daily exercise of the pupils in the open air, and to their habits of regular study.
- ^ a b c d Finding Aid: Ipswich Female Seminary Collection, 1828-present
- ^ a b c d e f Massachusetts 1877, p. 283.
- ^ a b c d Irene Harwarth; Mindi Maline; Elizabeth DeBra, Women's Colleges in the United States: History, Issues, and Challenges, United States Department of Education, archived from the original on February 4, 2005, retrieved February 7, 2012
- ^ "The Founding of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary". Mount Holyoke College.
- ^ George Adams (1853). "Education in Massachusetts: Incorporated Academies". Massachusetts Register. Boston: Printed by Damrell and Moore.
- ^ a b c d e Massachusetts 1877, p. 284.
- This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: Massachusetts (1877). "Ipswich Female Seminary. Prepared by Rev. John P. Cowles, Principal.". Public Documents of Massachusetts. Boston.
- Massachusetts Board of Education; George A. Walton (1877), "Report on Academies: Ipswich Female Seminary", Annual Report...1875-76, Boston – via Internet Archive
- Defunct private universities and colleges in Massachusetts
- Former women's universities and colleges in the United States
- Educational institutions established in 1828
- 1876 disestablishments in Massachusetts
- Female seminaries in the United States
- History of women in Massachusetts
- 1828 establishments in Massachusetts
- Educational institutions disestablished in 1876