Friday, March 18, 2011

Get Katy to the Nunnery!

We are introduced to the town of Hillsover and Arrowmouth College in What Katy Did at School, by Sarah Woolsey, first published in 1873. Katy’s school was based on the Select Family School for Young Ladies in Hanover, which the author had attended sometime prior to her family’s move from Cleveland to New Haven in 1855.

Mrs. Peabody, widow of Dartmouth Professor David Peabody, ran the school until 1850, and Mrs. Hubbard, wife of Dartmouth Professor Oliver Payson Hubbard, continued on from 1852 until 1865. As shown in this brochure from 1861, annual tuition, room and board was listed at $250, while the same expenses at the College averaged $165 that year. The school operated in a house on the current site of Rauner Library until the Hubbards moved the institution into their own house on North Main Street.
“What’s the name of the school?” asked Katy. Her voice sounded a good deal like a sob.

“The girls call it ‘The Nunnery.’ It is at Hillsover, on the Connecticut River, pretty far north. And the winters are pretty cold, I fancy; but the air is sure to be good and bracing.  That is one thing which has inclined me to the plan. The climate is just what you need.”

“Hillsover? Isn’t there a college there, too?”

“Yes: Arrowmouth College.”
Although the descriptions are more colorful in Ms. Woolsey’s novel, town and college publications mention the distracting influence a school for young ladies had on an all male campus. John Scales writes in his sketches of the Dartmouth Class of 1863:
“The chief interest of the students in general centered on the 'Nuns' when they marched out in procession, under guard, on pleasant afternoons to get an 'airing,' and in church on Sundays.”
And John King Lord in his History of the Town of Hanover, 1929, claims that the young ladies “furnished a center of attraction and a subject of conversation of more general interest than any since enjoyed, not even excepting the athletics of modern days.”

Ask for DC History PZ 7.W887 Wha to read Katy's story.

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