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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Revisiting Henderson's Past: Female Seminary

It's time for another peek into the archives ...

Continuing Education in Nineteenth Century Henderson

As many young Americans and their parents are discovering, college tuition today is inflating to the point that, for many families, it is becoming prohibitively expensive. By national standards, our own Henderson Community College is very reasonable, charging just $1,380 per semester for post-secondary education. In 1880, the Henderson Female Seminary was established to serve the daughters of wealthier Henderson citizens. Standard cost for board, fuel, light, and courses in calisthenics, English, Latin, and elocution were $200, or, converted into modern costs, approximately $4,400. Additionally, parents could pay for the girls to receive extra classes and tutoring.

According to Maralea Arnett’s book The Annals and Scandals of Henderson County, Kentucky, some of the “extras” included the following:

Private lessons in elocution, singing, or music : $50 each (now $1,100)
Drawing lessons : $30 each (now $660)
French or German recitations : $20 each (now $440)
Painting in oil or watercolors : $40 each (now $880)
Use of the school piano for practice : $10 (now $220)

Day pupils were charged $30 per year for introductory classes and $40 per year for collegiate level classes. The diploma received at the end of a girl’s schooling was another $5, or about $110 today.

The seminary’s first board of directors consisted of nine prominent men in the community, including Dr. W. N. Hanna, Hon. John Young Brown, Thomas Soaper, James A. Alves, and James R. Barret. Eventually, Ms. Susan Starling Towles became principal of the seminary, which closed its doors in 1903.

To learn more about schools in Henderson County, come see us at the library, or to see what else we have, visit our genealogy webpage. You can also read other “Revisiting Henderson’s Past” entries.

(Photo is of an 1896 Henderson Female Seminary class.)

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