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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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Oxford College

by Jay Mazzocchi, 2006

See Also: North Carolina Women's Colleges

Oxford Female Seminary, Oxford, NCOxford College (originally Oxford Female College) was a female academy established in Oxford, the Granville County seat, in 1850. The school's first president was Samuel Wait, a Baptist minister and educator. He served as president until 1857, when he was succeeded by John H. Mills. The school continued to operate during the Civil War, unlike many similar academies throughout the South. When Mills left in 1868, the school passed through a series of management changes until 1880, when F. P. Hobgood became president.

Hobgood had for the previous ten years operated the Raleigh Female Seminary, and soon Oxford College was transformed by his administrative skill and personal charisma. The school's course of study was divided into "preparatory" and "collegiate" departments; its curriculum included classes in English language, literature, mathematics, history, science, Latin, French, and German. Students were also required to engage in daily physical activities, many of which were based on "the Swedish system of physical culture" that promoted their "gracefulness of bearing and movement." All students wore the same uniform "for the sake of economy and appearance and to prevent rivalry." Students were also required to attend "chapel service every morning and [to take] part in suitable devotional exercises that consist of singing hymns, reading of Scripture in concert, and prayer." On Sundays, students could attend any church they desired.

The success and popularity of Oxford College during the Hobgood administration, as well as its importance to the region, was evidenced in January 1904 following a fire that destroyed the school's buildings. Without solicitation, a group of Oxford citizens established a corporation that succeeded in raising money to rebuild the college "on a larger and more enduring basis."

Tuition and board expenses for Oxford students early in the twentieth century were $142.50 per year. Additional courses of instruction, such as piano, typewriting, or stenography, required additional fees. Financial assistance was available, as was a discount to daughters of Baptist ministers. Oxford College was closed in 1925.


Ross Scott, "The Hushed Halls of Oxford," Durham Morning Herald, 26 Sept. 1971.

Image Credit:

Oxford Female Seminary, Oxford, NC. Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Government & Heritage Library. Available from (accessed May 2012).

Origin - location: 


Comment: This site gives a clearer insight of the beginnings of the Oxford College in 1858 when it opened as an institution of higher learning - "... to furnish all young men with as full and complete a collegiate education as can be obtained at any similar institution in the Union." My grandmother, Lucy Mabel Ausbon, passed down our family history to my mother, Alice Elizabeth Stafford, in both writing and by word, and then she to me and many other relatives. My g-grandfather Joseph Gray Ausbon attended Oxford College. He was the eldest son of Allen Ausbon (Osborne) and his wife Lavinia Gray, daughter of Joseph Iredell Gray. Joseph Gray Ausbon became clerk of the court of Washington County, NC, and later became Head Master or Principal of Washington Co. school. Joseph had 3 younger brothers who fought in the Civil War while Joseph helped to guard and protect the town of Plymouth during the battle and his family members, property, and the children who were left orphaned. The school was not just for women or girls, that came later. Please give credit to the young men who attended a fine College during a difficult time. Thank you, Barbara Touchette

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