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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The Steubenville Female Seminary

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Steubenville Female Seminary educated over 5,000 students from its opening in 1829 until it demise in 1898.  The institution was part of a “Seminary movement” during the 19th Century across America that provided an education to women in the 5,900 such colleges that existed.


The campus was located along High St. (today’s SR 7) between South & Adams streets and occupied the entire block.


By overlaying maps, today you would be driving on the Seminary site by traveling north on Route 7 as the last buildings were demolished in 1953 for the construction of the 4-lane corridor.


The Steubenville Female Seminary opened April 29, 1829 under the direction of Rev. Charles C. Beatty and his wife Hetty Elizabeth Davis Beatty.


Buildings were erected over the next decade until the complex occupied an entire city block, and was an impressive facility when viewed from Ohio River traffic and train service, as the tracks passed the Seminary.


In 1856, Rev. A.M. Reid and his wife joined the Beattys as assistants and continued operations until 1886 when it passed to others.


By the end of the 19th Century, public schools had grown and developed, and most of the female seminaries, including Steubenville, had closed.


Our Local History and Genealogy Department has worked for years to gather information, and specifically the names of students who attended Steubenville Female Seminary.


Sandy Day developed a master list of students from available sources, and we were pleased that Kent State University shared four of the Seminary catalogs from their collection to be copied for local use.


The 1870 edition is the “41st Annual Catalogue of the Steubenville Female Seminary” and lists students from 12 different states with 23 teachers caring for their education.


The campus is described as 600 ft. in length surrounded by a brick wall with a beautiful view of the river and rail road.


Students must be a minimum age of 12 and a rigorous course of study is outline including history, geography, and grammar; expanding into the sciences and literature.  Courses in music and art were also part of the curriculum.


Since most students lived in the dormitories, the catalog provides discussion of life at the Seminary including the rule, “confectionary and such like eatables are contraband, as detrimental to health.”


The cost of the school was $ 170 per year for Board, and $ 12-18 for tuition, as well as incidentals such as 50 cents for washing a dozen dresses.


There were lengthy rules and regulations governing the Seminary as many of the students lived far away from their homes from September through June.


A large gathering was held in 1873 and the City was filled with former students and graduates who had returned to honor the Beattys and the Reids for their dedication to the institution and students.


By the 1880s the number of students at the Seminary began to decline as it moved into the twilight years, and parts of the buildings were rented to other concerns.


Following the closure of the Steubenville Female Seminary in 1898, the dormitories were rented as apartments and the larger buildings became commercial concerns.


The care of the facility in the 19th Century disappeared over the next 50 years with final photographs showing a deteriorated structure by 1953 when what remained was demolished for the new Steubenville Thoroughfare, a four-lane Route 7.


Our library has about a dozen catalogs of the old Seminary, as well as odds and ends gathered in our files in an attempt to document all these students who education took place here.