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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Carolina Female College

by Deena Deese Kilmon, 2006

See Also: North Carolina Women's Colleges

Carolina Female College was established in Anson County by an act of the North Carolina legislature in 1850. At the time of its founding, it was one of 13 schools for young women in the state. Women ages 10 to 20, described mostly as "preacher's daughters," were enrolled. Course offerings emphasized the classics, including Latin and ancient history.

The school was first owned by a local village stock company that gave money and political support for its establishment and funded the erection of the original three-story school building. Its promoters included Joel Tyson, John McLendon, Joseph Medley, W. A. Smith, Christopher Watkins, and David Carpenter. The first president of the college was the Reverend Alexander Smith, and the first president of the Board of Trustees was Col. Wm. G. Smith. While the college began as a privately owned enterprise, it was offered in 1861 to the South Carolina Methodist Conference on obligation of a $10,000 debt.

An outbreak of typhoid fever and the ongoing Civil War combined to close the school in 1862. It enjoyed a brief comeback from 1864 to 1868, but the burden of Reconstruction and a lack of enrollment were too much for the small, struggling operation. The original 13-room school building stood for about 100 years and was finally demolished in the 1950s. The president's home remained nearby as a private residence.


Mary Medley, History of Anson County, N.C., 1760-1976 (1976).

W. A. Smith, "Old Carolina College," North Carolina Booklet 22 (1922).

Additional Resources:

"Carolina Female College, 1850-67." N.C. Highway Historical Marker K-29, N.C. Office of Archives & History.

Medley, Mary Louise. "Higher Education." History of Anson County, North Carolina, 1750-1976. Charlotte, N.C.: Heritage Printers, Inc. 1976. 191-193. (accessed January 13, 2013).

Origin - location: 



Rev. Joseph Richard Griffith of King and Queen County, Virginia was President from 1863 -1866.

"This institution having been closed for some time, has now a fair prospect of being reopened. The trustees have elected the Rev. Mr. Griffith, a local preacher, and a teacher of considerable experience, who comes highly recommended from Virginia, He will enter upon the duties of the college on the 1st of January next, and there is reason to believe that it will be well patronized and sustained" (Minutes 31).

“Minutes of the ... Annual Session of the South Carolina Conference, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South [Microform] : Methodist Episcopal Church, South. South Carolina Conference. EMU10000906787 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, Female College.

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