Sunday, August 25, 2013

Michigan Female College

Michigan Female College 
Michigan Female College

Location: Lansing, Michigan 


Closed: By 1880 at latest, when the property was turned into Michigan School for the Blind. Probably shortly after founder Abigail Roger's death in 1869.

Michigan Female College was founded by Abigail Rogers (1818-1860), a first-wave feminist. Unfortunatly, the College did not survive much beond the founder's lifetime--apparently because the school had no vision for sustaining itself beyond the time when women were finally admitted into the state universities. As Frank M. Turner states: "Her great work, the work on which she spent her whole life was the admission of women in to the University of Michigan and the Michigan Agricultural College on an equal basis with men." It appears, then, that the Michigan Female College was not much more than a means to that end. 

From the Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame

Abigail Rogers was one of Michigan’s most distinguished and admired women of the 19th century. Her great work to which she dedicated her whole life was the admission of women into the state’s universities.

Educated and experienced in the administration of college-level education, Abigail and her sister Delia Rogers determined to open a school of the highest grade for young women in Lansing, “to keep before the public mind as constantly as they could, the duty of the State to provide for the education of its daughters as it had already provided for the education of its sons.”

Abigail Rogers
The Michigan Female College was founded in 1855, holding daily sessions in the capitol for two years until a permanent building could be obtained. By 1867, Abigail Rogers had helped to educate more than a thousand women from Michigan and nine other states, in both classical and scientific matters.

Thorough attention was given to instruction in all areas including mathematics, philosophy, and political economy, and the inability to pay was never an impediment. According to historian Eliza Smith, “No young woman anxious for improvement, but lacking means to meet the expense of tuition, ever stated her case in vain to [Rogers,] this true earnest friend of all who wished to help themselves.”

Upon her death in 1869, the Lansing Republican newspaper called Rogers “the acknowledged and leading champion of the higher education of women in Michigan.” Later that year, Michigan Agricultural College (now Michigan State University) admitted its first female student. The University of Michigan followed suit in 1870. 

Here's a description of the college course from 1858. Abigail and her sister obviously believed in academic rigor: 

Young Ladies applying for admission to the Classical Course, will be required to pass an examination in the following preparatory studies: Arithmetic (Stoddard's); Algebra, (through the sixth chapter of Davies' Bourdon); English Grammar, (Welch's Analysis); Geography; Physiology; History of the United States; Andrews & Stoddard's Latin Grammar; Arnold's First Latin Book, (Harkness edition); Arnold's Latin Prose Composition, (through forty exercises); Cornelius Nepos or Q. Curtius; Caesar, and Cicero's Select Orations; Kuhner's Elementary Greek Grammar; Xenophon's Anabasis, (Boise edition) to the Fourth Book; and Arnold's Greek Prose Composition.

In the Scientific Course, candidates for admission will be examined in all the studies preparatory to the Classical Department, except the Latin and Greek. Fifty Exercises in Fasquelle's French Method, the regular Verbs; and fifty Exercises in Woodbury's German Method will also be required.

The study of the Holy Scriptures will form a regular part of the whole Course, both Preparatory and Collegiate. The Text-Books named, are those which are used in the Institution, but an equivalent amount of knowledge is all that will be required of candidates for admission.

The entire expense of Board, including Fuel, Lights, &c., for the College year of forty weeks is.....$130.00

Tuition in the Preparatory Department, for English Branches, per term.....$10.00
Tuition in the Preparatory Department, for each of the Languages, per term.....$4.00
Tuition in the College Department, per term.....$18.00
"     "     Drawing, per term.....$4.00
"     "     Painting in Oil Colors, per term.....$16.00
"     on Piano or Guitar, per term.....$20.00
Use of Instrument, per term.....$5.00

The only extra charge will be twenty cents per dozen for washing.

Young Ladies are expected to furnish their own towels, table-napkins, napkin-rings and forks, and will be required to provide themselves with umbrellas and overshoes.

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