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Ipswich Female Seminary collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MS 0556

Scope and Contents

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The collection also includes publicity pamphlets and reports of the 1836 and 1837 winter terms as well as published and unpublished rules and regulations for students and teachers.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 also portraits of several students and stereoscopic photographs showing the Seminary building.


  • Creation: 1828 - 1875
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1828 - 1875

Conditions Governing Access


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.


2 boxes (Associated Schools 1 box, 1 half-box)

Language of Materials



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.


Arranged in 12 series: Series 1. Catalogues. Series 2. Circulars and Announcements. Series 3. Administrative Documents. Series 4. Society for the Education of Females Records. Series 5. Regulatory Documents. Series 6. Student Document. Series 7. Correspondence. Series 8. Address. Series 9. Ceremonial Records. Series 10. Book. Series 11. Historical Information. Series 12. Photographs.

Ipswich Female Seminary Collection, 1828-[present] (bulk 1828-1875)
Edited Full Draft
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Repository Details

Part of the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections Repository

50 College Street
8 Dwight Hall
South Hadley MA 01075-6425 USA