Edgeworth Female Seminary
In 1840 North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead built a four story brick
building in Greensboro, North Carolina, and christened it the Edgeworth Female
Seminary. The Seminary’s namesake was the Irish author Maria Edgeworth,
whom Morehead greatly admired.
The building was a large brick structure that housed
a laboratory, classrooms, music and art studios, and dorm rooms.
Edgeworth Female Seminary Logo.
To see more Edgeworth Female Seminary ephemera preserved at the North Carolina Collection, click on the picture.
The first principal was Mary Anne Hoye, the Morehead daughters’ former
teacher. Hoye died unexpectedly in 1844, and the school was briefly taken over
by Dr. David Weir. In 1845 Gilbert Morgan became the administrator. He worked
there for five years until he resigned in 1850.
Morgan was replaced by Richard Sterling, and the golden age of the Edgeworth
Female Seminary began. Sterling increased enrollment to 116 in 1858, up from
59 five years earlier. The large influx of new students and the increasing popularity
of the school meant a new dormitory was built in the 1850s.
Edgeworth closed in 1862 for the Civil War. The buildings were used by both
the Confederate and Union armies as a hospital, and all the furniture and music
equipment was sold. The Seminary reopened in 1868 under the leadership of the
Rev. Dr. John Caldwell from Georgia. In 1871 Caldwell resigned and the school
closed for good. The buildings were briefly used as a private residence by members
of the Morehead family. The remnants of Edgeworth Female Seminary burned in
Source for image on this page: Image from Concert Program, 8 June 1871, in the Edgeworth Female Seminary Ephemera Collection, North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. VC378.9 M67 Edgeworth.
Drake, William Earle. Higher Education in North Carolina Before 1860.
New York: Carlton Press, 1964.
Hill, Michael, ed. Guide to North Carolina Highway Historical Markers.
Raleigh, N.C.: Division of Archives and History, 2001. 96 p.
Johnson, Kathleen. “Nineteenth-Century Reflections on Life, Love, and
Loss in the Diary of Clay Dillard.” North Carolina Historical Review.
April 2004. Vol. 81, no. 2. 168-195 pp.
Whitfield, Annie Morehead. “Edgeworth Female Seminary.” In Publications
of the Guilford County Literary and Historical Association. Greensboro,
N.C.: Published for the Association by Joe J. Stone & Co, 1908. 41-44 pp.
For further information:
Items available in the North
Edmunds, Mary Lewis Rucker. Letters from Edgeworth, or, The Southernization
of Minna Alcott. Greensboro, N.C.: M.L.R. Edmunds, 1988. Call number C813
Annual catalogue of Edgeworth Female Seminary, 1853-1861. Call number VCp378
Items available in the North
Carolina Collection Photographic Archives
Guilford County. North Carolina County Collection P1
Edgeworth Female Seminary. Series FP1.
Items available in the Southern
The William G.
Dickson Papers, collection number 221. This collection contains letters
"from various family members written while they were students at the Davenport
Female College at Lenoir, N.C., the Edgeworth Female Seminary at Greensboro,
N.C., and the Rutherford Academy in Burke County, N.C."
The C. Clay Dillard
Papers, collection number 5077. This collections contains Dillard's journal,
which she started during her last year at Edgeworth. In that year,
she discussed her classes, friends, and teachers.