Friday, July 19, 2013

City Schools and Finishing Schools Part 2

Go here to read PART 1.

All righty! I'm back to finish (as quickly as possible) my memories of what it was like at a rich young ladies' academy in the city. I found this old photo of Miss Whitaker. Believe me, it looks just like her! I was not there for the beginning of the school term back in October, but I heard it all from my new friend, Jenny Grant. She told me exactly what happened. 

Miss Whitaker, the head mistress, gathered all the young ladies together that first day in the common room (like when she got us all together to announce that Lin Mei was missing). She introduced the other teachers then she read off a bunch of rules. Not just any rules, either. These rules make Mr. Foster's rules sound EASY to keep. I mean, all you have to do at the Fresno Grammar school is mind your p's and q's. Here at Miss Whitaker's she has taken proper behavior to a whole new level. I was not prepared when I heard it second-hand from Jenny. You ready? Hang on!

The following rules were read aloud to the assembled scholars once a year only, at the opening day of school (You better hope you can remember them all!)

1. Each young lady must be in her seat at 9 o'clock with Bible in hand, ready for opening exercises. Each one should bow her head in a respectful manner.

2. Each scholar should familiarize herself with her studies, so she may commence preparation for her first recitation. This way all unnecessary questions to the teacher may be avoided.

3. All talking and laughing, note writing, conversation by "signs," eating and leaving of seats, are strictly forbidden during study and recitation hours.

4. Loud conversation, romping, or rudeness of manner must not in any case be indulged in during recess.

5. Perfect neatness in person is expected of every young lady. Books should be carefully covered and carefully used, and not left to lie upon the outside of the desk at any time.

6. No tardiness at school or failure in lessons will be excused, or permission given to leave before the close of school, except by a written note from one of the parents of the young lady.

7. For every perfect lesson the scholar will receive 4 good marks. Two failures in answering, or general imperfect answers, will incur a forfeit mark.

8. Good marks will be given for punctuality, neatness, order, and general excellence; disgrace marks will be given for tardiness, disorder, improper manners, and deficiency in studies.

9. At the end of each month, the marks will be counted so each young lady may know her standing in her classes. Reports will then be sent to the parents.

10. School will end a few minutes before 2 o'clock. When the bell is rung, the young ladies will arrange their books silently for leaving, and remain at their places until they receive permission to leave. The young lady who sits nearest the door in each class may lead the way.

11. We desire that the rules of politeness and good breeding will uniformly be practiced here. As the Bible is the great rule of duty for both teachers and scholars, it is hoped that this truth and virtue and Christian kindness and courtesy will be the governing principle of conduct to all the members of this school.


Author's note: I found these rules in a book called Diary of a Little Girl in Old New York by Catherine Havens. This book is in the public domain. It is the 1849-1850 diary of a ten-year-old girl. If you would like to download for FREE the pdf file of the entire book (takes about 5-10 seconds), click here:

Let me know what you think of the book!

And last but not least, here is the course of study that took up my entire day: 


Yes, how to drink tea was part of our day!


Some students took these extras:

Thanks, but count me out!



  1. Ik! It sounds soo boring! Count me out two Andi!

  2. I might sound crazy, but some of those sound fun! ;)
    (actually, I AM crazy) ;D


    1. I am with you Meg! Some of those classes (not all!) Sound fun!

  3. I think the Music, Singing, Dancing and Drawing sound fun!!! :D
    And I like a few of the normal classes too!! :)


    1. Okay, I will give you that . . . some of those sound fun to me too, but not the Latin or French class. Or Etiquette.

      Note from Mrs. M: Seriously, when I was in junior high (age 13), part of our P.E. class was 'Posture day.' I kid you not. A bunch of old teachers sat in chairs in the middle of the gym. We "ladies" had to walk around them with a book on our head. If our posture "passed" we got a posture star. *shuddering*

      Sad to say, I never, ever "won" a posture star, and I could never figure out why not. I could walk and never let the book fall, but somehow it wasn't good enough for a posture star.

      ~Mrs. M

    2. French Sounds fun!!
      I wonder why you did't win a posture star?? :O


    3. Seriously?!!! That is just pure torture!!

    4. Wow!!! Yes, torture. *augh*

  4. I agree with Jesseca, torture

  5. You guys might think it is fun but I will pass:D

    1. Yes Shelby, I will pass too!!!

  6. I actually took an etiquette class. It was a lot of fun! We learned ballroom dancing and a lot of etiquette! The teacher's motto was treat others as you want to be treated. That is what etiquette is really all about.


Let Andi know what you think!