Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oread Institute

Oread Institute (1849-1881)
Oread Institute

Location: Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

Founded: 1849

Closed: 1881

Sophia Packard and Harriet Giles
From the Worcester Women's History Project, Summer 2001 newsletter:

Oread Institute was built by Eli Thayer of Worcester on a piece of land known as “Goat Hill” off Main Street in 1849. The Oread offered three levels of instruction: primary, academic and collegiate. The four-year collegiate program offered a classical, college-level curriculum and is thought to be the first institution of its kind exclusively for women in the country. It was modeled after the program at Brown University, Thayer’s alma mater. The Oread taught women students for 32 years, from 1849–1881. Laura C. Spelman, later the wife of John D. Rockefeller, and her sister Lucy M. attended Oread in 1858. It later became The Worcester Domestic Science Cooking School (1898–1904) where, it is reputed, shredded wheat was invented. The Oread was razed in 1934.

Oread graduates & administrators

Sophia B. Packard (1824–1891) Educator, born in New Salem, MA. co-principal of Oread 1864–1867. In 1877, Ms. Packard presided over the first meeting of the Woman’s American Baptist Home Missionary Society and became treasurer and secretary. In 1880, she moved to Atlanta and, with the help of the Home Mission Society, opened a school for African-American girls named the Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary in the basement of the Friendship Baptist Church. The school received generous funding from John D. Rockefeller in 1884 and was named Spelman Seminary after his wife, Laura. Packard became treasurer and President of Spelman until her death in 1891. Spelman Seminary became Spelman College in 1924. Packard is buried in Silver Lake Cemetery in Athol, MA.

Harriet E. Giles (1833–1909) Educator, born in New Salem, MA. Teacher of “Ornamentals” and Music at the Oread from 1864–1867. Co-founder of Spelman Seminary with Sophia Packard, she became its President after Packard’s death in 1891.

Helen Louise Kendrick Johnson (1844–1917) Hamilton, New York. Attended Oread 1863–1865. Wrote several children’s and travel books and, in 1897, Woman and the Republic, a collection of articles and arguments against woman suffrage. During 1894–1896 she edited the American Woman’s Journal and was founder of the Meridian Club in 1886 and the anti-suffrage Guidon Club in 1910 in New York City.

Abby Leach (1855–1918) Educator born in Brockton, MA, attended Oread 1869–1871. Graduated in 1871. Taught at the Oread from 1873–1878 and from 1876–78 was the “preceptress.” She took private instruction in Greek, Latin and English from Harvard professors in 1878 and was one of the first students enrolled in classes opened to women in 1879 at the “Harvard Annex,” which would later become Radcliffe College. In 1883, she became instructor in Greek and Latin at Vassar College. She became an associate professor in 1886, and full professor and head of the Greek department in 1889. She remained at Vassar for the next 29 years. She was president of the American Association of University Women 1899–1901.

Isabel Florence Hapgood (1851–1928) Translator and writer. Born in Boston attended Oread from 1863–65. She then attended Miss Porter’s school in Farmington, Connecticut until 1868. By the 1880s she had mastered all of the Romance, Germanic and many of the Slavic languages. She began translating in 1886, some of her translations include works by Tolstoy, Hugo, Dostoevski, Gorky, and Chekhov. She was a pioneer in introducing Russian Literature to English readers. She was a correspondent, reviewer and editorial writer for the New York Evening Post and the Nation for twenty-two years. She died in New York City and is buried in Worcester.

Photos: Oread Institute, and Miss Packard and Miss Giles

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