Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Springfield Female College

The Springfield Female College was an institution of higher learning located in Springfield, Missouri, from 1848 to 1861. Sometimes called Carlton College after its president, Charles Carlton, it was located at the corner of College Street and Main Street just a few blocks west of the public square. It was affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). After Carlton's wife died sometime around 1861 when Carlton was about 40 years old, he moved to Texas and started a new college there in 1866 with his new wife and his two daughters from his first marriage as the main instructors.
I recently ran across an ad in an August 1856 issue of the Springfield Mirror that gives an interesting glimpse of the school, as far as how much it cost to attend and so forth. The 1856-1857 school term was scheduled to start on the second Monday in September and run for ten months, with a week off between Christmas and New Year's. Cost for the basic preparatory course varied from $5.00 to $8.00 for five months (or a half-session), and cost of the collegiate course was $12.00 for a similar period. Including instruction in Greek, French, and Latin cost an extra $8.00, and other electives were also offered for an additional fee. For example, a course in painting and drawing cost $6.00. All students were charged an incidental fee of $1.00. These prices seem ridiculously cheap by modern standards. I'm not sure what the average cost of a semester of college is nowadays, because it's been so long since I or anyone I'm closely associated with has attended college, but I'm petty sure the cost of higher education has outpaced the inflation rate. I know it has in recent years, and I think it probably did in earlier years as well. Some things nowadays are not all that much more expensive than they were ten, fifteen, or even a hundred and fifty years ago. For instance, you can probably buy a bushel of corn for only five to ten times more than it cost during the Civil War era. Definitely not so with higher education.
Although I don't know how many students were normally enrolled in the Springfield Female College at any given time, the advertisement said that the school could accommodate over 100 pupils.


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