Thursday, August 7, 2014

Waialua Female Seminary

Education in the US at the beginning of the 19th-century was primarily triggered by the need to train the people to help grow the relatively new nation.

Back then, it was believed that women should be educated to understand domestic economy, because they were to play the major role in educating the young, primarily in their homes, and later (as the school population grew and there was a shortage of teachers) as school teachers.  (Beyer)

Although schools for upper-class women were in existence prior to the 19th-century, the female seminary for middle-class women became the prevailing type of institution from 1820 until after the Civil War. The most prominent female seminaries were Troy Seminary (1821,) Hartford Seminary (1823,) Ipswich Seminary (1828,) Mount Holyoke Seminary (1837) and Oxford Seminary (1839.)

The seminary's primary task was professional preparation: the male seminary prepared men for the ministry; the female seminary took as its earnest job the training of women for teaching and motherhood.  (Horowitz, Beyer)

The founders of the female seminaries were at first men who were committed to providing education for women, but as time went by, more of the founders were women. The financial backing for these seminaries was typically from private sources and the tuition charged the students. Their enrollment varied between 50 to 100-students; they preferred girls between the ages of 12 and 16.  (Beyer)

Western-style education did not begin in Hawai'i until after members of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) arrived in 1820.

Because the primary educators responsible for developing the education system of Hawai'i were Americans, the educational practices for Hawaiian girls tended to mirror, but not necessarily duplicate, what was taking place on the continent.  (Beyer)

In 1835, at the general meeting of the Mission, a resolution was passed to promote boarding schools for Hawaiians; several male boarding schools and two female boarding schools were begun (Wailuku Female Seminary on the island of Maui and the Hilo School for Girls on the island of Hawai'i.)  Before the 1850s, both of these schools had closed.

Wailuku Female Seminary (or the Central Female Seminary, as it was first called) was the first female school begun by the missionaries. It received support at a time when the missionaries were experimenting with both boarding schools and a manual labor system.

The first female seminary to be established on the island of Hawaiʻi was the Kaʻū Seminary. In 1862, Orramel Hinckley Gulick and his wife, Ann Eliza Clark Gulick (a graduate of Mount Holyoke Seminary,) began the school. Both were the children of missionaries (Peter Johnson Gulick and Fanny Hinckley Thomas Gulick; Ephraim Weston Clark and Mary Kittredge Clark.)

Due to the isolated location of the seminary, it was difficult to attract many students to the school. As a consequence, tuition and board were free, as long as the girls were placed under the parental care of the teachers of the school until the girls were married or obtained employment.

In 1865, after struggling to fill the school, it was decided to move the school to Waialua, Oʻahu, on the Anahulu Stream.  It opened there on August 7 with 50-students, ranging in age from 11 to 15.  As with other schools at the time, the students were instructed in the Hawaiian language.

The girls are selected by the pastors, from among the most promising girls of the parishes; and every major district in the islands had one or more representatives in the school. It was hoped that this institution would raise up a class of educated women, who might make teachers, and suitable partners for native Hawaiian ministers and missionaries.  (The Missionary Herald)

The large two-story building, surrounded by a veranda, housed the girls, their four teachers, one temporary assistant and two children of the teachers. A second large building was the school-house, the lower floor of which was a spacious school-room, while the upper story was divided into recitation rooms. (The Missionary Herald)

The girls at Waialua Female Seminary came from families where the traditional Hawaiian culture was still practiced. However, at school the girls were dressed in calico, as opposed to their usual holoku; they slept in beds, rather than on mats on the floor; and they ate at a table with silverware, instead of on the floor using their fingers.

The schedule for the day began with breakfast, followed by each girl reading from the Hawaiian Bible; after the principal offered a prayer in Hawaiian, they were dismissed to begin the routine work, which included all the work necessary to maintain the school (except for carting and carrying firewood and baking and pounding the taro for poi.)

The older girls put the food away, washed the dishes and swept the floor. The younger girls did various tasks, which included sweeping and dusting the parlor, the sitting-room or the schoolroom, gathering up the litter of leaves and branches from the yard and garden paths, or putting the teachers' rooms in order. Some of the girls were involved with preparing the meals; all the girls washed and ironed clothes once a week.

The academic work took place between 9 am and noon and 1 pm and 4 pm.  The curriculum included geography, arithmetic, surveying, astronomy, singing, Bible history and the Bible in general. Manual training consisted of instruction in cutting and sewing dresses, in washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning house and painting; an hour and a half was spent on gardening and farming.

The school kept the girls until they graduated (40 percent of the enrollment,) married (34 percent of the enrollment,) were employed (4 percent of the enrollment,) left for health reasons (6 percent of the enrollment) or were dismissed for not applying themselves or for bad behavior (16 percent of the enrollment.)

In December of 1870, the school closed when the Mission sent the Gulicks to evangelize in Japan.  Waialua Female Seminary reopened on April 3, 1871, under the direction of Miss Mary E Green (another missionary descendent and graduate of Punahou and Mount Holyoke Seminary.)

Miss Green ran the school until 1882, when she became ill and could no longer run the school. The property was sold and the money was given to the trustees of Kawaiahaʻo Seminary in Honolulu to make further improvements there.  (Lots of information here from Beyer and Missionary Herald.)

The school was called ‘Hale Iwa’ by the girls (the first use of the name for this area.)  Later, that name came back to this area when OR&L opened the Haleiwa Hotel (1899;) when the hotel closed (1943,) the name of the area remained as Haleiwa, and it continues to be called that today.

The image shows Waialua Female Seminary (1865.)  In addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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