Greensboro College Fun Facts

Fun Facts about the College from 1838-1938

Greensboro Female College was chartered in 1838 as one of the earliest women’s colleges in the country.

Name Changes
Greensboro Female College, 1838-1912
Greensboro College For Women, 1912-1919
Greensboro College, 1919-Present
Number of Graduates
1846-1863 // 191
1873-1900 // 692
1901-1938 // 1,176
1838-1938 (Total) // 2,059


Main Building

Main Building, the first graduates, & a few random statistics

Begun in 1843 and completed in 1845, original Main Building (before the wings were later added) contained 36 rooms and cost $20,000 to build.

When Classes first began in 1846, there were 87 young women and eight instructors at the college.

The first graduating class (June 1848) consisted of six young women: Sallie Ballou, Henrietta Crump, Laura Crump, Elizabeth Jones, Nannie Morris, Sarah Smith.

Total enrollment was around 200 when the college reopened in 1873.

In 1886, there were 15 faculty members and 186 students from six states.

Four hundred students were enrolled at the college in 1938.

July 4, 1922
Early issues of the yearbook
Early issues of the yearbook
had a section that was themed oriented.
In 1922, the theme was holidays and seasons.

Curriculum & Study

Young women entering the college during the college’s early years were tested on their knowledge of a variety of topics and then placed in one of the following classes: primary & preparatory, first, junior and senior.

The first session at the college lasted from mid-April until mid-July of 1846. The second session lasted from mid-July until mid-December 1846.

Courses of instruction listed in the 1846 Catalogue include: Spelling, grammar, arithmetic, geography, uranography, composition, botany, physiology, algebra, natural philosophy, metal and moral science, rhetoric, chemistry, geometry, criticism, history, logic, trigonometry, astronomy, mineralogy, Butler’s analogy, and evidences of Christianity.

Other areas of study included foreign languages (Latin, Greek, French, and/or Spanish), music (vocal and/or instrumental), art (various forms) and needlework.

During the college’s early history, end of session exams were public oral exams given in front of classmates, parents, college personnel, and even the trustees.

During the college’s early days, the young women earned either Diplomas or Certificates of Proficiency.

In 1889, the college began offering a collegiate course of study requiring four years.

The college first granted A.B. degrees in 1913.

And in 1926, Greensboro College was admitted as a member in the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States.

Literary Facts

The precursors to the Emerson and Irving literary societies were the Sigourneyan (1846) and Philomathesian (~late1840s) societies. The purpose of these societies was to advance the girls’ knowledge of literature by studying the classics, writing essays, reading aloud, and engaging in often-spirited debates.

In 1879, the Mary Lyon Society was created as “an auxiliary for the cultivation of tastes and manners and to afford rare facilities for inspiring elocution, composition, and conversation.”

The Irving and Emerson literary societies were formed in 1882 and 1890, respectively.

One of the products of the literary societies was the creation of The College Message in 1884. This publication provided the girls with an outlet for their literary expression by “carrying poems, essays, and stories, as well as college news, editorials, and even a gossip column.”

The college’s first official yearbook, called The Tattler, was published in 1903.

Dora Duty Jones

Dora Duty Jones (At Left)
Class of 1875

The daughter of then President Turner M. Jones, Miss Eudora “Dora” Duty Jones became Lady Principal after her mother, who previously held the position, passed away in 1884.

A strong proponent of education for women and women’s rights, a number of significant events and changes occurred here at the college when she was Lady Principal:

The creation of the Alumni Association in 1884-85;
The creation of The College Message;
The first theatre production (A Shakespearean play);

The offering of a collegiate course of study requiring four years;
And the formation of the Emerson and Irving Literary Societies.

From the mid-1890s until her death in 1913, Miss Jones resided in Europe and was a renowned educator and speaker.

Sallie Southall CottenSallie Southall Cotten (At Right)
Class of 1863

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, Sallie Southall Cotten (Sallie Southall – Class of 1863) was a significant figure in the women’s rights movement.

In 1893, she was a manager at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois. This was an unusual position for a woman to have held during that time period.

In 1897, she attended the inaugural meeting of the National Conference of Mothers.

In 1901, she organized the North Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs.

In 1925, she wrote the history of the North Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs.

Additionally, she also wrote poetry, articles, and essays for magazines, and she collected books by female authors, especially those from North Carolina.

We Tsung Zung (At Left)
Class of 1917

We Tsung Zung, part of an exchange program with a Methodist church affiliated school in China, became the college’s first foreign national graduate in 1917.

Upon her return to China, she entered into the newspaper profession, which was then unheard of for a woman in China. She later acted as a delegate from China to the International Congress, another unusual accomplishment for a woman in China during that time period.




A Few Other Notable Female Graduates

After her graduation in 1856, Miss Ellen Morphis became the college’s first missionary to go abroad when she traveled to China.

Because their parents had moved to Texas while they were in college, Sophia Richardson, Sallie Smith, and Mollie Meachum (all related) traveled to Texas by mule train during the Civil War after Main Building burned (not war-related) in 1863.

Miss Bettie Caldwell (Class of 1882) helped to organize the first public library in Greensboro in 1907.


In 1926, Miss Reuben Gertrude Alley (Class of 1917) became the college’s first know graduate to receive a MD (from Woman’s Medical College).

While attending UNC-Chapel Hill in 1928, Mrs. Gaynell Calloway Spivey (Class of 1917) became the college’s first known graduate to receive a PhD.

In 1922, Miss Nannie Lee Smith (Class of 1893) was the first woman to be appointed a Trustee of the college .



The granddaughter of the college’s first president graduated from the college in 1878.

The class of 1900 was nicknamed the “noughty-nought” class.

Social dances were not permitted at the college until the mid-1930s.

The centennial celebration in 1938 featured a pageant whose cast of 130 actresses/actors and 75 technicians traced the history of the college’s first one hundred years.


In 1846, the costs of attending the college were as follows:

$100 per session (included room, board, and supplies)
$70 (without music)

In 1932, costs for Greensboro College resident students in the bachelor of arts course were $470 per year; for students in the bachelor of music course, $580.