Salem Academy & College

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Old Salem Museums & Gardens shares the Historic District with Salem Academy and College–the country’s oldest private institution for women.

Schools for girls were rare in the early South. In Salem, Sister Elisabeth Oesterlein began a small day school for girls in 1772. By 1788, families across the South were asking if their daughters could come to Salem to receive an education.

In 1805, a girls boarding school was constructed in Salem and the first class had 30 girls from across the South. Girls took classes in reading, writing, syntax, history, geography, music, drawing, and needlework. In the late 1880s, the school was approved to offer a college education as well as the traditional preparatory program. For more information see Salem College’s website.