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July 19, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, 1857

Buckingham County’s Female Collegiate Institute is a favorite subject at Slate River Ramblings. The county is deservedly proud of its early commitment to the education of women.

The advertisement above from 1857 lists the talented faculty offering a wide range of courses to young ladies from Buckingham County and across Virginia. Beyond the basics of English, the classics, and modern languages, a variety of “accomplishments” were taught including: piano or guitar, voice, drawing and two kinds of needlework, as well as Grecian painting.

Grecian painting? Can a Slate River Ramblings reader elaborate on this art style of the mid-nineteenth century? Hint: It may refer to “Academic Realism.”

For much more about Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, consult “At a Place called Buckingham,” (Volume 1).

5 Comments

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  1. Judy Kiilehua / Jul 19 2018 12:47 pm

    I enjoyed this as well. My great grandmother, Cornelia Agee, who descended from the Agees of Buckingham County, attended “Sylvarena Institute” in Mississippi in 1867, and was honored as Valedictorian. We have her graduation remarks from that time, a precious document to us, of course. It not only shows the writing style of the time, but gives a hint into the Southern psyche, post Civil War.

    So, this caught my eye. Cornelia became a teacher, but seeing a list of probably typical subject matter from a “female institute” is so interesting, and surely could be the sort of things she studied.

    I would think Academic Realism could be what was taught as “Grecian Painting,” as you mentioned, since this was what was being practiced during that period in Greece, and Europe in general. It’s also possible that classical Grecian vase painting was what was being referred to here.

    Thanks for the great postings!

  2. Sarah Reveley / Jul 19 2018 11:00 am

    Love to read your ramblings! Are there any lists of students?

    • Nancy Baldwin-Harkness / Jul 19 2018 2:58 pm

      Sarah, Appreciate your response!! My great grandmother, Lavinia Trent, also attended the Institute. I know very little other than it was mentioned in her obituary. I wish there was more documentation like the list of students you mentioned.

      • Joanne Yeck / Jul 20 2018 6:28 am

        Nancy, Please see my reply to Sarah. Joanne

    • Joanne Yeck / Jul 20 2018 5:42 am

      Sarah, It is good to know that you are enjoying the ramblings. To the best of my knowledge there are no complete lists of BFCI students, however, students are mentioned in scattered sources. Here are some published sources:

      Lulie Patteson’s short history of the Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute appeared in “The Farmville Herald” on September 15, 1933 and was reprinted in 1967, with “Appended Data on Buckingham Female Institute,” by William Shepard, in “Felixville: A Forgotten Village in Cumberland County Virginia and Other Sketches” (Farmville, VA: “The Farmville Herald,” 1967), 25-47.

      In 1940, William Shepard compiled a significant number of primary documents concerning the Institute, creating what even he admitted was a “one-sided view.” See William Shepard, “Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, First Installment,” quote William and Mary Quarterly” (April 1940), 167-193 and William Shepard, “Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, Second and Concluding Installment,” “William and Mary Quarterly” (July 1940), 345-368.

      In 1990, Sue Roberson West wrote what she called “A Documentary History” of the Institute, compiling additional resources and extending her research to the immediate neighborhood. See Sue Roberson West, “Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute: First Chartered College for Women in Virginia, 1837-1843, 1848-1863” (Charlotte, NC: Demar Printing, 1990).

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