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Striking Similarities

 
The Cherokee Female Seminary before destroyed by a fire in 1887. Courtesy of University Archives, Northeastern State University,Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
 
The Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before destroyed by a fire in 1896. Courtesy of MHC Archives.
 
 
 

Industry, Asylums and Architecture: The Cherokee Female Seminary and Mount Holyoke Seminary buildings both resembled factory buildings that were springing up all over New England in the mid-nineteenth century at the spur of industrialization. These buildings represented strength, power, structure, and punctuality, all themes of the growing industry in the United States. The buildings also embodied the themes of asylums built during the same period. A strictly enforced schedule with bells denoting different activities, and an emphasis on order and self improvement, structurally like those of the seminaries originated in institutions for mental health.The seminaries adopted many architectural design elements from these industrial and asylum centers but in addition supplemented their own elements to soften the intensity of the large structures. Mount Holyoke Seminary added a two story porch onto their facade and the Cherokee Female Seminary added columns around the entire building. Although there is a slight difference on the face of the two buildings their smoke stacks and roofs are strikingly similar.

Landscape as a Marker: The landscape in both institutions was used as a marker for the implementation of a highly structured system whereby the women attending each, followed a strict schedule of learning, cleaning, eating, and sleeping. In Ross and Vann's decision to hire Mount Holyoke Seminary graduates to run the full operation of the seminary, while simultaneously borrowing their course of studies, demonstrates the connectedness of the two institutions and their educational goals. Just like Mount Holyoke Seminary, and later College, the Cherokee Female Seminary always had a strong commitment to education and "the course of study was so advanced at the Cherokee Seminaries that some educators declared the seminary diploma the equivalent of two years of college."(5)

More Mount Holyoke Contributions: After Sarah Worcester and Ellen Whitmore opened the Cherokee Female Seminary, several other Mount Holyoke graduates made the journey to Park Hill and later Tahlequah, Oklahoma to teach and hold the position of principal. Among these influential Mount Holyoke graduates are: Harriet Johnson, Pauline Avery and Ella Noyes.(6) These Mount Holyoke women brought their own ideas about white American culture and the Christian religion to the Cherokees in Oklahoma.This assimilation and cultural and religious sharing effected the way that Cherokee Indians viewed their own heritage as well as their definition of progress.

 

 

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This page was created by Melissa Joyce '08 in History 283, Spring Semester 2006 - meljoyce@mtholyoke.edu