Judge Laban Wheaton, father-in-law of Wheaton’s founder, husband of Fanny Morey Wheaton, was a successful civil servant and entrepreneur. A congressional representative from 1809 to 1817 as a member of the Federalist Party, Judge Wheaton also served as the first… Read More »
1847 - 1849Elizabeth A. Cate
In the spring of 1847, Mrs. Wheaton’s personal appeal brought a new principal to the Seminary: Elizabeth A. Cate, a long-time friend of Martha Vose from their days at Bradford Academy.
1849 - 1885Margaret Mann
The Board of Trustees elected Miss Margaret Mann as principal in 1849, hoping she possessed the qualities to continue Miss Cate’s improvements.
1849Mary Lyon Hall
The new Seminary Hall, the main classroom building, was constructed in 1849 to replace “The Sem.” Seminary Hall was enlarged in 1878 to include a science wing (south wing), gymnasium and library (west wing), additional classrooms (east wing), grand stairway… Read More »
1850Wheaton Graduate Becomes First American Female Doctor of Medicine
Dr. Lydia Folger Fowler, who attended Wheaton in 1838-1839, was the second woman to receive an American medical degree. She also became the first woman professor at an American medical college (Central Medical College in Syracuse). Married to the noted… Read More »
1850 - 1876Caroline Cutler Metcalf
Mrs. Caroline Cutler Metcalf was one of the few truly historically influential members of the Wheaton community. Hired in 1850, at age 41, to replace Margaret Mann, she remained at Wheaton for 26 years, providing superior leadership until 1876.
1850 - 1851A Day in the Life of a Wheaton Female Seminary Student
Elizabeth Morville’s diary provides the daily schedule for the year 1850-1851, probably typical for most of the Seminary’s early years. The students’ day was marked by bells, which rang to warn of each segment of the schedule.
1851 - 1911Mary Jane Cragin
Mary Jane Cragin, an innovative teacher of geometry, natural philosophy and astronomy, was hired by Mrs. Metcalf, who tried always to have at least one Normal School graduate among the members of her faculty. She wished the Seminary to have… Read More »
1851Reverend Eli Thurston is Wheaton’s First Commencement Speaker
The Reverend Eli Thurston, D.D., gave the first recorded Commencement address at Wheaton’s graduation ceremonies. Pastor of the Second Congregational Church of Fall River, MA, from 1849 until his death in December 1869, he spoke again in 1865. Thurston served… Read More »
1852Reverend Barnas Sears Speaks at Commencement
The Reverend Dr. Barnas Sears spoke at the 1852 Commencement ceremonies. At the time, he was secretary of the the Massachusetts Board of Education.
1853Reverend Jonathan Leavitt Speaks at Commencement
The Reverend Johnathan Leavitt, D.D., of Providence, RI, spoke at Commencement.
1853 - 1859Reverend Franklin Holmes
Reverend Franklin Holmes was a Wheaton trustee from 1853 to 1859 while he was the minister of the Trinitarian Congregational Church. He was married to Martha Sawyer, a member of Wheaton’s first graduating class who later became principal of the… Read More »
Lucy Larcom was hired by Mrs. Metcalf in 1854, and introduced the study of English Literature at Wheaton. Famed as a poet, author, and editor, Larcom is remembered for her autobiography A New England Girlhood, still in print, in which… Read More »
1854Reverend Samuel Wolcott Speaks at Commencement
Reverend Samuel Wolcott of Providence, Rhode Island spoke at Commencement. Wolcott was the author of the more than 200 hymns.
1855The Rushlight is Created
The first Rushlight was published by the Senior Class in 1855. Founded by Lucy Larcom, it is one of the oldest college literary magazines in continuous publication.
1855Larcom Wins Prize
Lucy Larcom won a fifty dollar gold piece as first prize from the New England Emigrant Aid Society, for her abolitionist poem Call to Kansas. Set to the tune of Stephen Foster’s Nelly Bly, the song encouraged abolitionist emigrants to… Read More »
1855Reverend Horace James Speaks at Commencement
The Reverend Horace James of Worcester, Massachusetts spoke at Commencement. He was known as a lecturer on the subject, “How to enlarge the sphere, bring honor to the profession, and increase the usefulness, of the teacher.”
1856Reverend Samuel Bartlett Speaks at Commencement
The Reverend Samuel Bartlett of Manchester, NH, speaks at commencement.
1856 - 1857Daughter of an Enslaved Person Attends Wheaton
The first African-American student to attend Wheaton probably did so unbeknownst to the school. In 1856-57, Mary E. Stafford of Cumberland Island, Georgia attended Wheaton.
1857Psyche Literary Society Formed
The Psyche Literary Society was organized by Lucy Larcom in October 1857. Originally a literary and intellectual discussion group for any interested students, it later became the senior honor society.