Barber-Scotia Seminary, a source of 19th century learning


Barber-Scotia Seminary
Date: 
Tue, 1870-11-22

*On this date in 1870, Barber-Scotia Seminary was chartered by the State of North Carolina. This was a learning institution for Black girls.

Scotia was founded in 1867 as a strict prim Presbyterian school located roughly fifteen miles north of Charlotte in the cotton-mill town of Concord. In 1932, responding to the wave of interest in junior colleges and greater responsibility for black secondary education, Scotia merged with Barber College for Women in Anniston, Alabama. The transformed school, Barber-Scotia College was typical in basic functions, tuition, many secondary programs and in its private sponsorship. Yet the majority of Scotia’s faculty held masters degrees, more than half were enrolled in college programs, and all of them were women.

Barber-Scotia modeled itself after Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts, with its reputation of independence, permanency, and intellectual firmness. The seminary subscribed totally to the head-hand-heart approach to educating black young people. Barber-Scotia fostered logical thinking, acquiring useful information, notably through drill for mental development. Scotia offered two curricula; a four-year grammar program of English, arithmetic, algebra, geography, science, history, and literature; and a three-year normal and scientific program that included geometry, astronomy, physics, chemistry, history, Latin, and rhetoric.

Their industrial department taught sewing and cooking, and the students were involved in a housekeeping program to lessen operating expenses. It’s the evolving pattern of post-secondary Black schools their first four year degrees were awarded in 1945, two years later it counted 157 students; in 1954, 191. Scotia was the first major boarding school for black girls in the defeated Confederacy. Past graduates from Barber-Scotia include Mary McLeod Bethune, Gertrude Brown, Mary Church Terrell, and Anne Cooper.

Existing in a time of racial segregation, discrimination, and repression, Scotia offered the highest leadership training and education available in the South.

Reference:
The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York
ISBN 0-02-864984-2