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Women's Studies (Special Collections): Women's Education

This research guide identifies special collections materials related to women in East Tennessee from the late 18th century to the present.

Primary and Secondary Education

black and white photograph of East Tennessee Female Institute, surrounded by bare trees.
East Tennessee Female Institute, mid-1800s. Image via Volunteer Voices.

Manuscript Resources

Journal of the Proceedings of the Trustees of the Knoxville Female Academy, 1827-1907 (MS.0088)
This journal outlines the proceedings of the trustees of the Knoxville Female Academy (later the East Tennessee Female Institute) from 1827 to 1907.

Melinda W. White Testimonial, circa 1831 (MS.0099)
The Knoxville Female Academy granted this testimonial, or diploma, to Melinda W. White. It is signed by Joseph Estabrook (who served as the institution's principal from 1831 to 1834) and by trustees Mat. McClung, L. D. Jacobs, William S. Howell, and William C. Mynatt. Although it is not dated, Melinda W. White is listed as a student during the 1831 summer session.Eunice Susan (E. S.) Merrill Letters, 1848 (MS.2752)
This collection contains two letters from Eunice Susan (E. S.) Merrill to her brother Theodore Merrill, both  written while she was attending the East Tennessee Female Institute in Knoxville, Tenn., around 1848. They each describe her days at school and transportation of the day.

Scotia Caledonia Hume Diploma, 1849 (MS.0097)
This diploma certifies that the East Tennessee Female Institute conferred the degree of Mistress of Polite Literature on Scotia Caledonia Hume on July 26, 1849.

Columbia Athenaeum Progress Report Regarding Lizzie Williams, 1873 November (MS.1783)

The Columbia Athenaeum created this progress report for the information of Lizzie Williams' parent or guardian in November of 1873. Williams had been studying history, elocution, dictation, composition,  arithmetic, algebra, natural philosophy, geology and mineralogy, piano, penmanship, and art. The report's reverse bears an advertisement for the school.

Kittie Ebert Certificate, 1881 (MS.0102)
The State Normal Institute of Tennessee issued this second grade teaching certificate to Kittie Ebert during the first session of 1881. It is signed by W. S. Doak, state superintendent, and E. Alexander, secretary.

"Opening New Doors for Young Women: The History of Knoxville Female Academy," 1997 (MS.3354) 
The paper consists of a title page, an eight page outline, and a nine page report describing the history of women's education in Knoxville, Tennessee from 1827 to 1924. Several prominent Knoxvillians and educational pioneers are mentioned.

Rare Books

Lectures on Female Education and Manners. 1811 (LC1441 .B9)

A Treatise on Domestic Economy, for the Use of Young Ladies at Home, and at School. 1858 (TX145 .B41 1858)

What the Women of Knoxville are Doing Along the Lines of School Improvement. 1909 (F444.K7 P)

Catalogue and Announcement [of] the Ward-Belmont School, A Junior College, Preparatory School, and Conservatory of Music for Young Women. undated (LD372 .B78)

College and University Education

black and white photograph of two Female students in Strong Hall tidying up the room.
Students in Strong Hall at the University of Tennessee, circa 1950.
Image via Volunteer Voices.

Manuscript Resources

Bernadotte E. Schmitt Papers, 1894-1968 (MS.0575)
Photographs, photograph albums, correspondence, diplomas, newspaper clippings, and published works documenting Bernadotte E. Schmitt's family, time at the University of Tennessee, participation in the Rhodes Scholarship Program, and later career.

Dean of Women Collection, 1897-1975 (AR.0345)
This collection houses annual reports, papers, and other materials documenting the Dean of Women at the University of Tennessee.

Mildred Simpson Scrapbook, 1933-1979 (AR.0085)
This collection houses a scrapbook compiled by Mildred Simpson documenting her time at the University of Tennessee (1937-1940). It includes such memorabilia as invitations and programs for Greek sponsored events and university-sponsored games, plays, and ceremonies, newspaper articles, photographs, and clippings from the society pages.

Commission for Women Records, 1970-2002 (AR.0047)
This collection houses meeting minutes, reports, papers, notes, and records of awards documenting the activities of the University of Tennessee's Commission for Women from 1970 to 2002. The bulk of the material dates from the 1980s.

Rare Books 

Woman Neglected in Education and the Causes and Effects. 1886 (HQ1201 .V5)

Florida State College for Women. 1930 (LD1771. F92 D6 1930)

New Directions for Today's Women: A Tennessee Statewide Program of Continuing Education for Women. 1973 (LC1489.4 T4.U5 1973)

For more resources related to the history of women who attended the University of Tennessee, visit the Women and the University of Tennessee (Special Collections) research guide.

Special Collections Contact Information

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Special Collections
1015 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 974-4480

We are open Monday-Friday: 9AM-12PM and 1PM-4PM by appointment only. Go to Visiting Special Collections for more information on how to request materials or make an appointment.