150 Years of Continuous Women's Education

During the final days of the Civil War, Dr. William Ward and his wife, Eliza Ward, envisioned a school for young women in Nashville that would evolve into one of the nation's most prestigious institutions. As the New South dawned, Ward Seminary opened its doors in September 1865. Merging with Belmont College for Young Women in 1913, Ward-Belmont operated as a college preparatory school, music conservatory, and junior college. In 1951, the high school division moved farther west, reopening as the Harpeth Hall School after Ward-Belmont's sudden closure. Ward Seminary, Belmont College, Ward-Belmont, and Harpeth Hall are simply separate chapters of one continuous story. As Harpeth Hall celebrates 150 years, its story reflects a unique case study and provides a lens through which to understand the evolution of all-girls education in the United States. The Harpeth Hall School remains one of the oldest all-girls college preparatory schools in the South.

All-Girls Education from Ward Seminary to Harpeth Hall, 1865-2015 by Dr. Mary Ellen Pethel

1848-02-01 00:00:00

Declaration of Sentiments sparks women's rights movement

The first women's rights convention is held in Seneca Falls, New York.

1849-01-23 12:23:22

Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first female doctor

Elizabeth Blackwell becomes the first woman to graduate from medical school and become a doctor in the United States.

1850-10-24 00:00:00

First National Women's Rights Convention

The first National Women's Rights Convention takes place on October 24, 1850 in Worcester, Massachusetts attracting more than 1,000 participants.

1860-05-01 00:00:00

The Occupied City

Nashville’s position as a center for transportation, trade, and manufacturing makes it vitally important to the Confederacy during the American Civil War, but the city remains undefended by the Confederate army.

1865-09-04 00:00:00

Opening of Ward Seminary

Ward Seminary is founded by Eliza Hudson Ward and William Eldred Ward and opens on September 4th, 1865.

1865-12-01 00:00:00

Thirteenth Amendment Abolishes Slavery

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified in December 1865. One of three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude.

1866-01-13 00:00:00

Ward Seminary relocates downtown

Ward Seminary purchases property on Eighth Avenue, today Rosa Parks Blvd.

1869-05-15 00:00:00

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form National Woman Suffrage Association

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.

1870-05-01 00:00:00

Athens of the South

Nashville’s reputation as a commercial, cultural, and educational center grows tremendously following the Civil War.

1879-01-01 00:00:00

Merger of Edgefield Seminary and Ward Seminary

Edgefield Seminary, operated in East Nashville by Mrs. Henri Weber, merges with Ward Seminary. Mrs. Weber joins the Ward Seminary faculty.

150 Years of Continuous Women's Education

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