Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson
Showing posts with label RADFORD Harriet Higgins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RADFORD Harriet Higgins. Show all posts

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Life at college for Elizabeth in 1844

It you have been following these blog posts about Elizabeth Radford Evans, you'll recall our surprise to read that she "graduated from Mt. Holyoke College in the class of 1845" reported in a newspaper interview with 88-year old Elizabeth about her long life.  You might also recall that I contacted Mt Holyoke Seminary [now College] and she never graduated, but she did attend for one year from 1844-1845.
“REMINISCENCES," in The Berkshire Courier, 
Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Thursday 20 March 1913, 
volume LXXIX, no. 12, pages 1, 8

Mt Holyoke Seminary was a new institution, founded in 1837.  Their website has the history for anyone who is interested in what Mary Lyon did as is founder and first "principal" for an institution for women which began during an economic depression.

When its doors finally opened on November 8, 1837, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary embodied two major innovations in women's education. It instituted rigorous academic entrance requirements and a demanding curriculum conspicuously free of instruction of domestic pursuits. And it was endowed, thus ensuring its permanence and securing the principle of higher learning for future generations of women. With this remarkable achievement, Mary Lyon proved herself true to the words she would become renowned for: Go where no one else will go. Do what no one else will do.

So what was life like for a college student in 1844?
What did it take to for a woman to attend college in 1844?

I was going to try to pull out individual examples of the 1844-1845 catalog, but decided to include the whole catalog for those who would like to see who were the 249 students and what it took to get in and what life was like once you arrived as a young woman then.  This catalog was generously provided by Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.
The college had three levels, starting with the Senior Class, then Middle Class and finally the Junior Class.  If you look closely, they are from New England states and New York.  I did find one student from Ohio and one from Illinois.

The Senior and part of the Middle classes.

The Middle and part of the Junior classes.

Continuing with the Junior class.

Here are the requirements to enter Mt Holyoke along with a description of curriculum for Junior and Middle class students.  Sounds like they will be busy.  There is a note that sometimes it takes more than one year to master the Junior class's curriculum along with Latin (which is a recommended study, not part of the required studies for Juniors).

In addition to what the Seniors will study, there is a description of the studies for everyone: composition, reading, calisthenics, vocal music, the New Testament and linear & perspective drawings.  If you already play piano, you can continue with that study.  They list the textbooks to bring -- if  you have-- otherwise you can purchase them at school.

In order to attend, there are admission exams, and in order to join the next class, there are exams.  There is a reminder that the students should be studying Latin if they want to progress to the Middle and Senior classes.

The school year starts 2 October and goes through July -- three terms:  16, 14, and 10 weeks.  There is a 2 week break between terms and an 8 week break between school years.

Tuition and board is $60 a year.  This doesn't sound like a lot of money, EXCEPT, a young woman going to work in the Massachusetts mills in 1845 ("Investigation of Labor Conditions, 1845"  Massachusetts House Documents, no. 50, March, 1845; would be paid $16 to $30 per month, exclusive of board.

Everyone, faculty and students live on campus, it is a family structure -- no commuters.  Everyone also contributes to the domestic work of the school, however, they are not there to learn the domestic skills, but only to already have them to use (taught at home).  They are there to develop academic skills.

Admission is for the whole year.  They must be at least 16 years old and well-prepared in the preparatory skills (see page 11).  The students bring their own towels, bedding, and two spoons.   

There is an expectation of punctuality for classes and attention to studies.  There are regular hours for classes and study and for recreation.  Visitors are encouraged to only visit during recreation on Wednesdays or Tuesday evenings.  If someone is traveling "from abroad" they can call a teacher to arrange a visit at another time, except on the Sabbath.   The students can not leave the school or receive visitors on the Sabbath.

New students are only admitted in October, they must be "young ladies of good degree of mental disciple, and maturity of character."  The first few weeks of school are probationary.

To get to the Seminary, young ladies can take a train to Wilbraham or Springfield or Cabotwille and then take a stage from there to South Hadley.

The examination schedule is given, and the final address (closing the school year) is on 31 July.  
The admission test schedule is included.  The list of what will be on the exam is back on page 11 of this 1844-1845 Catalogue.

If you recall, one of the requirements was mastery of Adam's New Arithmetic.

If you are interested in the contents of what was considered "arithmetic" in the 1800s, I though I'd include the table of contents.

Elizabeth Radford started Mt Holyoke Seminary when it was a young school -- it had started in 1837, and she attended in 1844-45.  There were high expectations for their students to be capable of learning a rigorous curriculum.  For her farm family to send her was probably a big stretch -- $60 was a lot of money.  Her contemporary women on the farm who "went to the city" to work at that time would probably have gone to Lowell or New Bedford, Massachusetts and earned $23 - $30 a week to send home.  After a year of college, she worked as a teacher for 5 years -- I've not yet identified where.

We know she was corresponding with her cousin Louise Radford who was also thinking about important ideas of the day.  We know Elizabeth loved to play with words in her writing and even in describing her anniversary.  Years later she was reading the contemporary books and following the politics and the local newspaper wrote her up.  It is wonderful that her parents Beers Radford (1784-1876) and Harriet Higgins Radford (1785-1846) saw the value of sending their daughter to Mt Holyoke Seminary for a year.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A News Clipping -- Surprise!

Charles and Elizabeth Radford Evans in front of the home that Charles' parents
built about 1801 in Sherman, Connecticut.  This picture was taken before they "retired" to
Great Barrington, Massachusetts to be closer to their two sons.
In the late 1890s, Elizabeth and  her husband Charles moved a few miles north to Great Barrington to be closer to their sons who had moved their Evans Bros. construction company north to become the Barrington Builders.

Elizabeth Radford Evans is the woman who was corresponding with her cousin Louise (in the 1840s) who wrote the two letters that I shared in blog posts: Dear Cousins Elizabeth and Augusta and Dear Cousin ... 2 1/2 years later.  If  you recall in the first letter, Louise was talking about her "light reading" of novels by Sir Walter Scott, that her cousin would probably be criticizing her for not reading and keeping up with more important things -- then later in the same letter, she was discussing the evils of slavery and declaring herself an abolitionist.  Louise was keeping up with the world far beyond Madison County New York in the mid-1840s.  Fast forward a few decades, now Elizabeth is an 88  year-old widow, living in Great Barrington, and the local paper interviews her.

“The Berkshire Courier, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Thursday 20 March 1913, volume
LXXIX, no. 12, pages 1, 8

One of Great Barrington’ Old
Ladies and Some of the Things
She Has Witnessed During Her
Long Life. ---Memory Excellent and
and Interest  Keen for Current

     Mrs Evans, mother of E. B. Evans
 of the Barrington Building Co., is
one of those ladies of an old school type
that is fast passing away.  In her
88th year she retains her mental fac-
ulties to a remarkable degree, and
her stories of the days when the na-
tion was young are wonderfully in-
teresting.  She has lived under the
administration of 22 presidents of
the United States, and in the dawn
of the administration of the 23d 
president, Woodrow Wilson.  She
was a young girl during the adminis-
tration of John Quincy Adams, and
witnessed some of the exciting inci-
dents attending the canvass of An-
drew Jackson.  On incident she re-
lates was of an ardent admirer of
Jackson crowing over a group of the
adherents of Henry Clay.  He was
riding along in the stage coach when
they stopped near a group of men
digging in the ditch.
     “Hurray for Jackson!”  souted the
stalwart Jackson supporter.  Each 
man in the ditch grabbed up a hand-
ful of sticky clay and hurled it at the
Jacksonian and shouted in unison:
     “Hurray for Clay!”
     She has witnessed the campaigns
of Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison,
Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Fillmore, PIerce,
Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Grant,
Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland,
Harrison, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft
and Wilson.
     Mrs. Evans graduated from Mt.
Holyoke college in the class of 1845,
and is one of the few members of 
that class alive today.  She entered
Mt. Holyoke eight years after its or-
ganization, and when the noted Mary
Lyon, was its president.

   She has seen 23 states admitted to
the union in the period of her long
and active life, namely:  Arkansas in
1836, Michigan, seven months later
in 1837, Florida in 1845, Iowa in 1846,
Wisconsin in 1847, California in 1850,
Minnesota in 1858, Oregon in 1859,
Kansas in 1861, West Virginia in 
1863, Nevada in 1864, Nebraska in 
1867, Colorado in 1876, North Dako-
ta in 1889, South Dakota has the same
year, Montana six days later of that
year, followed by Washington three
days after, Idaho in 1890, Wyoming
eight days later of the same year,
Utah in 1896, Oklahoma in 1907, and
more recently the territories of New
Mexico, organized in 1850 and Ari-
zona, organized in 1863, admitted fi-
nally into statehood, as well as the
organization of the district of Alas-
ka as a territory in 1868 and Hawaii
in 1900.  She has seen the acquisition
of the Phillippine Islands and of 
Porto Rico and the Isthmian Canal
zone pass into United States posses-
     Among the stories she tell was one
related to her by her mother, of an
oratoron the political platform who
made this prophecy:
     “We now have a confederation of
13 states, but, gentlemen there ex-
tends beyond us territory sufficient
for 13 additional states, even to the
far west, to the banks of the Missis-
sippi river.”
     Mrs. Evans has live the see that
oratorical prophecy, then so improb-
able, fully verified, and to see this
to the Pacific ocean, and extend its
power to the far islands of the sea.
She remembers well the early stage
coaches, which in their day were re-
garded as a wonderfully rapid means
of transportation.  She has seen
them superseded by the railway
trains and witnessed the advent of
the trolley cars, the aeroplane and 
wireless telegraphy, the telegraph
and telephone, and the era of talk-
in movie pictures.
     Through all these years time has
dealt leniently with her and her con-
versational powers are wonderfully
interesting, and her interest in cur-
rent event continues unabated.”

Clearly for decades, Elizabeth was not "just" a mother of four and a housewife busy with all her chores on a farm in rural Connecticut, she was continuing to keep up with current events as she had learned from her mother (Harriet Higgins Radford 1785-1846) who had also done that.

The big surprise, to me in the newspaper was
     Mrs. Evans graduated from Mt.
Holyoke college in the class of 1845,
and is one of the few members of 
that class alive today.  She entered
Mt. Holyoke eight years after its or-
ganization, and when the noted Mary
Lyon, was its president.

She attended college!!!  I never knew that anyone in my family had gone to Mt Holyoke Seminary, or that any woman in the family had been to college that early.  I contacted the school archives, and she never graduated, but she did attend college, 1844-1845.

Thanks to my 2nd cousin once removed who mailed me a copy of this newspaper and made this discovery and blog post possible.  Thanks Craig!

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2014
The link to this blog post is