Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History

Academics

1850s

  • 1849-1850 Margaret Mann

    The Board of Trustees elected Miss Margaret Mann as principal in 1849, hoping she possessed the qualities to continue Miss Cate's improvements. More »
  • Dr. Lydia Folger Fowler

    1850 Wheaton graduate becomes doctor

    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 phrenologist Lorenzo Niles Fowler, Lydia was herself a lecturer, author, and activist for temperance and women’s rights. More »
  • Caroline Metcalf, circa 1870

    1850-1876 Caroline 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. More »
  • Seminary students enjoy a game of basketball, date unknown

    1850-1851 A 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. More »
  • Mary Jane Cragin, circa 1860

    1851 Mary 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 the advantages of the latest ideas in pedagogy, and Miss Cragin had graduated from Bridgewater Normal School (now Bridgewater State University). More »
  • 1851 Reverend Eli Thurston, 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 on Wheaton's Board of Trustees from 1864 to 1869, and spoke at Commencement on several occasions. More »
  • 1852 Reverend Dr. Barnas Sears, Commencement speaker

    The Reverend Dr. Barnas Sears spoke at the 1852 Commencement ceremonies. At the time, he was secretary of the the Massachusetts Board of Education. More »
  • 1853 Reverend J. Leavitt, Commencement speaker

    The Reverend Johnathan Leavitt, D.D., of Providence, RI, spoke at Commencement. More »
  • Lucy Larcom

    1854 Lucy Larcom

    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 she describes her youth working in the Lowell mills. More »
  • 1854 Reverend Samuel Wolcott, Commencement speaker

    Reverend Samuel Wolcott of Providence, Rhode Island spoke at Commencement. Wolcott was the author of the more than 200 hymns. More »
  • 1855-  The 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. More »
  • 1855 Larcom 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 move to Kansas. More »
  • 1855 Reverend Horace James, Commencement speaker

    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." More »
  • 1856 Reverend Samuel Bartlett, Commencement speaker

    The Reverend Samuel Bartlett of Manchester, New Hampshire, was the Commencement speaker. More »
  • 1856 The first mixed race student is admitted to 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. More »
  • Psych Literary Society

    1857 Psyche 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. More »
  • 1857 Reverend A.H. Clapp, Commencement speaker

    The Reverend A.H. Clapp, D.D., of Providence, Rhode Island spoke at Commencement. Secretary, and then Treasurer for many years of the Home Missionary Society, Clapp was also a member of the Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. For fifteen years, Clapp was the pastor of the Beneficent Congregational Church in Providence. More »
  • 1858 Reverend Ray Palmer, Commencement speaker

    The Reverend Ray Palmer, D.D., pastor of the First Congregational Church and Society of Albany, New York, gave Wheaton's Commencement address. More »
  • 1859 Reverend James Means, Commencement speaker

    The Reverend James Means, A.M., of Dorchester, Massachusetts, provided the Commencement address. More »