Annual Catalogue, Mary Holmes Seminary, West Point, MS (1925)
In 1892, Mary Holmes Seminary was built in Jackson, Mississippi, as the “only institution in the State for the separate education of colored women.” The school, which was established by the Board of Missions for Freedmen of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, was named for the wife of Reverend Mead Holmes, a preacher from Rockford, Ill. After three years in Jackson, the school was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in West Point, Mississippi. After another devastating fire four years later, the school reopened in 1900 to educate African American women.
The purpose of the school was to educate and train African American women from all over the country with most attendees from Mississippi. “It is the aim of the Mary Holmes Seminary to educate her pupils physically, mentally, morally and spiritually; to train them first to be home-makers, then to be wise leaders in society and the church.”
The Annual Catalogue of Mary Holmes Seminary provides all of the information necessary for students attending the school. General regulations for the school include proper student attitude (“Pupils are expected to render prompt and cheerful obedience to all rules and requirements of the school”), religious expectations (“Attendance on all the religious exercises is required of all students”), what to bring to school (“...a comb, a hair brush, tooth brush, needles, thimble, pins, a teaspoon, overshoes and a raincoat”), and guidelines regarding correspondence (“All correspondence with gentlemen, except parents and brothers, is strictly forbidden”). Swatches of fabrics recommended for daily wear were included in the pamphlet to provide students with examples of clothing for the school. These included samples for worsted skirt and coat and working skirt and waist.
The pamphlet also highlights information pertaining to the curriculum and schooling. The course of study is provided in detail for every term with additional information about the study of Domestic Economy and Domestic Science. The expenses for a year of schooling are presented in detail with the admission fee at $4.00 and room and board at $13.00. A list of all current students and graduates are located in the rear of the publication with photographs scattered throughout. For those who may want to apply to the school, an application is included in the rear of the volume.
To view The Catalogue of Mary Holmes Seminary, visit the 3rd floor of McCain Library and Archives. The call is MISS LC2853 .W47M37 1925-26. It can also be viewed online.
For more information or questions, contact Jennifer Brannock at or 601.266.4347. To see more Items of the Month, click here.
Text by Jennifer Brannock, Curator of Rare Books & Mississippiana