Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Oct 23

Education Opportunities for Women in Greene County in the 1800s

Posted on October 23, 2020 at 10:21 AM by Melissa Dalton

During the Secrets of the Greene County Archives program earlier this month, Robin was asked if we have ever done a blog post on the Women’s Preparatory School of Xenia, Ohio. As we have not written a blog post on the College or any of the various iterations of the institution, we thought we’d take everyone through its somewhat complicated past.

In the 1820s through 1850s, there was a push to increase education opportunities beyond what we would consider primary education. During this movement, there were many institutions established to provide secondary education. This coincided with a trend to create more equality for women, which included more education opportunities.

Greene County witnessed this advancement as well. In March 1850, the Xenia Female Academy was granted a charter by the Ohio General Assembly. The institution was championed by several men within the Xenia vicinity, and they represented various professions, such as ministers, lawyers, newspaper editors, physicians, merchants, and business men. The school officially opened in October 1850 in the old county seminary building on East Church Street in Xenia, Ohio and a dormitory was established to house women from outside the area (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Xenia Female Academy from 1855 Greene County Atlas (JPG)
Fig 1. Xenia Female Academy from 1855 Greene County Atlas (Greene County Archives)

The first school year was a success, and due to this, the trustees felt it was necessary to explore the options of building a structure to house the new academy. Within a year of fundraising, the new building was completed. However, the state had just passed legislation to create a free education system, meaning tuition-based institutions, such as the Xenia Female Academy, could face difficulties in keeping attendance up to support the school. The trustees began talks with the local Methodists, and by the fall of 1852, it was agreed that the church would take over control.

Under new management, an official boarding-house was constructed for the Xenia Female Academy, and the new facility was completed in time for the fall 1853 school year (Fig 2). Within roughly 10 years, the school changed names multiple times. In 1854, the Academy began admitting young men, and to account for this, it was determined to change the name to the Xenia Female Academy and Collegiate Institute (Fig 3). The name stuck for several years, but by 1861, the admission rate of young men dropped, and the name was changed to Xenia Female College. Then, just two years later in 1863, the school was witnessing increased co-education, and the name was changed to Xenia College (Fig 4).

Fig 2. 1853 Tax Duplicate indicating improvements to Academy property (JPG)
Fig 2. 1853 Tax Duplicate indicating improvements to Academy property (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. 1855 Xenia Female Academy and Collegiate Institute from 1855 Atlas (JPG)
Fig 3. 1855 Xenia Female Academy and Collegiate Institute from 1855 Atlas (Greene County Archives)

Fig 4. Announcement of co-ed option in 28 Mar 1863 issue of Cleveland Daily Leader (JPG)
Fig 4. Cleveland Daily Leader documenting change to co-ed (Newspapers.com)


The students were offered a variety of courses depending on the particular level of education. At the Primary level, students were offered orthography, reading, writing, arithmetic, and geography. The Preparatory level offered students the opportunity to take courses such as reading, writing, geography, composition, grammar, history, and botany. Collegiate level courses were the most widely offered, and included subjects such as grammar, natural philosophy, geography, ancient history, botany, algebra, modern history, geology, chemistry, and astronomy. All levels included elocution, composition, reading, parsing, and writing (Fig 5).

Fig 5. 1874 Greene County Atlas depicting Xenia College (JPG)
Fig 5. 1874 Greene County Atlas depicting Xenia College (Greene County Archives)

As the free public school system, including secondary education, became a fixture in communities, the private option was not as profitable. It became harder to maintain the institution due to declining enrollment, and in 1887, Xenia College closed.
There is a little bit of conflicting information about what happened to which building (Fig 6). According to Broadstone, the main building for the college was converted into a dwelling and the boarding house was razed with the bricks being used to build the Bijou Theatre (although this conflicts with other accounts that it was actually the boarding house that remained to be used as an apartment for Wilberforce University – I bet the Greene County Historical Society can clear up this question!). The remaining structure was razed in 1972 to make way for the new St. John’s AME Church.

Fig 6. Razing of former College building, Xenia Daily Gazette, dated 29 Jun 1972 (JPG)
Fig 6. Razing of former College building, Xenia Daily Gazette, dated 29 Jun 1972 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

We hoped you enjoyed this brief history of the early education of women (and men) of Greene County! Stay tuned for a quick history of another institution for women – the Xenia Female Seminary!

Until Next Time!

Sources:
Broadstone, M. (1918). History of Greene County Ohio: Its people, industries and institutions (Vol. 1). B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Newspapers.com


Comments

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January 21, 2021 at 4:31 AM
swipe idea
January 21, 2021 at 4:32 AM
Enjoyed this brief history of the early education of women. it's a particular level of education. Really impressive article to come across in recent times.

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