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January 21, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute: Buckingham Polka


Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute was truly innovative.  The county’s planter elite began planning “The Institute” in 1831. The goal was to promote the higher education of women and perpetuate an educational plan. Though there would be beloved faculty members and Presidents, the Institute was designed to transcend personalities, even specific religious affiliation.

The curriculum far exceeded the typical female academy, and several textbooks used by the men at Randolph-Macon College were assigned. Mathematics, for example, eventually included Trigonometry. Ancient Languages included Greek and Latin, in preparation to read Caesar and Cicero. German and French languages, music lessons on the Forte Piano, Drawing and Painting were also taught; however, there was a supplemental fee for these classes. The Institute owned four pianos for the use of the young ladies, and its extraordinary library contained 3,000 volumes, donated by the citizens of Buckingham. The exceptional depth and breadth of these offerings makes it clear that the forward-thinking families of the county were convinced that their daughters were fully capable of achieving intellectual and artistic accomplishments equal to their brothers.

Pictured above: In 1852, Arnaud Preot, the Institute’s music master, composed “The Buckingham Polka,” which he dedicated to the girls.


Leave a Comment
  1. Steven / Jan 21 2013 2:54 pm

    Great image of the school. What became of the building?

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 21 2013 3:36 pm

      It burned in 1906.


  1. Tuesday, 7th July, 1857 – Caroline's Journal

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