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Manuscript Collections



Collection 3

Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary

Collection, 1845-1897 (bulk)

Processed by
Lois Densky

Edited by
Gregory Plunges

Monmouth County Historical Association
70 Court Street
Freehold, New Jersey 07728

March 1980


Located in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey, the Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary was founded in 1844 by the Reverend Daniel V. McLean, D.D. (1801-1869), Judge Thomas G. Haight (1790-1847), and John Hull (1762-1853). Amos Richardson (1812-1881), a Dartmouth College Graduate (1837) from Springfield, New Hamshire, was engaged as the first Principal, and his wife Ruth was one of the teachers. An initial $10,000 was used to build two seminary buildings on Main Street. Mr. Richardson eventually purchased the Seminary from the founders. The school's first session began May 7, 1845 with seven students brought from New England by Mr. And Mrs. Richardson.

Although the educational philosophy of the Seminary included Christian education, it was not limited to a "finishing school" cirruculum (i.e., French, music, drawing), but included such subjects as chemistry, geology, botany, Latin, Greek, and Geometry. While tuition and board costs were approximately $180 per year, the establishment of thesis private school helped provide educational opportunities for women prior to the establishment of State funded educational institutions. A Seminary education prepared qualified graduates for programs at Wellesley and Smith Colleges without examination.

In 1854, with the expansion of the student body and success of the school, Mr. Richardson planned and built an additional building on High (Broad) Street. During this time, Mr. Richardson was permanently blinded in an accident on the building site. Despite this handicap, he continued to serve as principal.

On July 13, 1870, the Young Ladies' Seminary celebrated its quarter century anniversary and a special entertainment program was presented. Amos' daughter, Laura Richardson Conover and Annie L. Seabrook Conover (1852-1843), students whose papers are included in this collection, participated in the program. Up to this time, 900 young women had graduated from the Seminary.

In 1871, Amos' son, Charles, a graduate of Princeton College, joined the staff of the school. In the same year, Laura Richardson Conover graduated, and joined the staff as a piano and organ teacher. In 1883, she founded, and was first president of, the Cecilian Club of Freehold.

On October 16, 1881, Amos Richardson died after thirty-six years as principal. He was buried in Freehold at the Maplewood Cemetery. By the summer of 1883, the Seminary had to be sold to settle Mr. Richardson's estate. Under the leadership of the Reverend Frank Chandler, D.D. (1831-1894), pastor of the Freehold Presbyterian Church, an incorporation was formed by prominent Freehold citizens to save the school from permanent closure.

The Parker family was instrumental in the formation of this incorporation. The Honorable Joel Parker (NJ Governor, 1863-1866) was the first elected president of the Association. William Henry Parker and James Parker was the largest stockholders, and later Board of Trustees Members. Reverend Chandler was elected president of the Seminary.

In 1883, Eunice Sewall, a graduate of Vassar College, and Ada Sewall, her sister, of Portland, Maine, were brought to the school. The former was engaged as principal and taught English History, Latin, and Literature, while the latter taught Botany, English Studies, Ancient and US History, and the Bible.

In 1885, Reverend Chandler resigned from his pastorate at the Freehold Presbyterian Church but retained his presidency at the Seminary until 1887. At that time he resigned to accept the pastorate at the Presbyterian Church in Asbury Park, NJ.

On June 11, 1895, the Young Ladies' Seminary marked its fiftieth Anniversary by holding a Jubilee Celebration. A special reunion luncheon and program were held. Over 200 former students attended including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's cousin, Louisa Wadsworth Hubbard.

In 1897, Eunice Sewall resigned as principal. A Mr. Stocking and his daughter were engaged to run the Seminary for a time, but were not successful. By June 14, 1897, the last commencement exercise was held.

In 1900, Colonel Charles J. Wright purchased the Seminary and adjacent property of the closed Freehold Institute. He first opened the New Jersey Military Academy on the Freehold Institute property, and later engaged Major Charles M. Duncan of the Glenwood Institute in Matawan, NJ, to come to Freehold and establish the Freehold Military School on the Seminary property. Day classes were held for girls, and classes for boys were held at night until 1904, when classes for girls were discontinued.

The two schools remained separate entities until 1919 when Colonel Wright died. In 1912, Major Duncan purchased the New Jersey Military Academy property from Wright's widow. He continued operation of the combined schools, now known as the Freehold Military School, on the Broad Street property until 1916. In July of that year, Major Duncan moved his school to a South Street location. The Seminary buildings were subsequently dismantled when Freehold Borough took over the property. During 1927-1928, the Broad Street Primary School was constructed on the Seminary site and is still used today.


The Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary Collection is not an official business archive of the Seminary but rather a subject collection concerning the school. The collection was formed over a period of years and material was collected by numerous individuals. (Please see PROVENANCE, for a detailed list of donors.)

The collection contains a variety of material including academic and financial records, advertisements, invitations, programs, addresses, school catalogs, newspaper clippings, school publications, and student papers and workbooks. The bulk of the material dates from 1845-1897.

The academic records are limited to report cards only. The financial records contain tuition bills and receipts, and stock certificates. The advertisements contain business cards, a flat oval wooden advertising fan autographed by Anne L. Seabrook, a calendar advertising the Seminary, and an admission ticket for the Monmouth County Horse Fair with "FYLS May 30, 1867 Evenings" autographed on verso.

The files containing invitations, programs, and addresses concern anniversary, closing and commencement exercises, musical recitals, and the Social Friends literary club. Of note, are the material related to the Jubilee Celebration, and an invitation to a Kate Greenaway reception held at the school.

The series of school catalogs is nearly complete. The collection is, however, missing catalogs for the years 1851, 1855, 1858-1860, 1865, 1867, 1868, 1870, 1876-1883, 1885, 1887, 1888, 1890, and 1897. The newspaper clippings include articles on the history of the Seminary, program notices, Seminary advertisements, reminiscences of former students, and of note, copies of school publications, The Seminary Advocate, and the Seminary Bell.

The student papers include notebooks, compositions, essays, spelling tests, school diaries sent weekly to parents for inspection of grades, letters, calling cards, and notebooks. An autograph album containing approximately one hundred autographs of young women has been added.

Items removed from the Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary Collection include a photograph, duplicate advertising circulars, duplicate invitations, programs, and addresses, empty envelopes, and duplicate school catalogs. (Please see Appendix B for disposition of this material.)

The Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary Collection may be useful to researchers of the history of women's education in Monmouth County, and in New Jersey.

Other manuscript materials housed in the Library of the Monmouth County Historical Association that pertain to the history of education include the Georgianna Souther Barrows Papers, the Perrine Papers, the Schureman-Hendrickson Papers of the Louise Hartshorne Collection, and file folders "Letters 1840-1860" and "Letters 1861-1869". Relevant photographs in the Monmouth County Historical Association Photo File will be found under the headings, "Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary", and "Richardson".

An unpublished paper entitled, "The Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary, A Justifiable End to an Era," by Gail Mezey, was written in 1976 using the collection as primary source material. A copy of this paper, which includes slides of the collection, is on file in the Monmouth County Historical Association Library.

The arrangement of the Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary Collection is a combination of material by subject, and material by document type. The arrangement is further refined by placing material chronologically by date within these two divisions.

PROVENANCE: Acquired between 1932 and 1963, gifts of:
Alden, John D., Asbury Park, NJ
Barrows, Anna, Fryeburg, ME
Brice, Sara S., Red Bank, NJ
Brown, Josephine A., Keyport
Conover, Ellen S., Freehold, NJ
Cooke, Dr. Robert A., New York, NY
DuBois, Jane, Freehold, NJ
Dyer, Adaline Murphy, Freehold, NJ
Hall, John, Freehold, NJ
Hartshorne, Mrs. William, Freehold, NJ
Haskell, Mrs. J. Amory, Red Bank, NJ
Hedleck, Adelia A., Rochester, NY
Holmes, William S. Freehold, NJ
Johnson, Edith, Matawan, NJ
Magalhaes, Mrs. F.V., Conover, Vera, and Conover Henry, children of Annie L. Seabrook Conover
McDonald, Mrs. Art, Jamesburg, NJ
Miller, Ester C., Mt. Vernon, NY
Perrine, David V., Freehold, NJ
Richardson, William C., Haddonfield, NJ
Rosell, Mrs. Joseph A., Freehold, NJ
Snyder, Mrs. Clifford, Freehold, NJ
Solomon, Bertha, Freehold, NJ




1. Academic Records. October 29, 1867 - February 28, 1878. 24 items.
Arranged chronologically by date.

Series contains report cards for Anna C. Cobb, Sarah J. Cobb, Lillia C. Denise, Mary C. Perrine, Laura H. Richardson, and Annie L. Seabrook. Contains two types of report card forms.

2. Advertisements.
1846 - 1893. 52 items.
Arranged chronologically by date.

Series includes business cards, advertising fans, calendar, circulars concerning various Seminary events and schedules, and an admission pass.

3. Financial Records.
December 17, 1867 - October 3, 1887. 36 items.
Arranged chronologically by date.

Series contains tuition bills and receipts, and stock certificates. Includes bills to John H. Denise for Lillia C. Denise, bills to Henry H. Seabrook for Annie L. Seabrook, a bill to Theressa W. Seabrook for Martha W. Seabrook, and receipts from Amos Richardson to Henry H. Seabrook for Annie L. Seabrook. Stock certificates were issued to Charles E. Hall by the Young Ladies' Seminary, at Freehold, N.J., Inc.

4. Invitations, Programs, and Addresses.
April 18, 1846 - June 15, 1897. 93 items.
Arranged chronologically by date.

Series includes above types of material concerning Seminary anniversary, closing, and commencement exercises, musical recitals, and the literary club, Social Friends.

5. Newspaper Clippings and School Publications.
October 2, 1845 - November 11, 1977. 35 items.
Arranged first by document type then chronologically by date.

Newspaper clippings concern history of Seminary, program and advertising notices, reminiscences of former students, one copy of the Seminary Advocate, and two copies of the Seminary Bell.

6. School Catalogs.
1845 - 1896. 26 items.
Arranged chronologically by date.

Catalogs describe background of the school and curriculum offered. Lists fee schedules and names of students and teachers in residence.

7. Student Papers.
September 8, 1848 - October 15, 1877. 33 items.
Arranged chronologically by date.

Series includes schoolwork and workbooks belonging to Annie L. Seabrook, Ida H. Conover, Sophia M. Conover, and a notebook created by unknown students.

8. Autograph Album.
Owned by Katie Smith 1869-1873. 1 item.

This Album contains approximately one hundred autographs of young women who were in attendance at the Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary, Freehold, NJ, 1869-1873. (Acc. # 85.1)






1 / 1 / Academic Records.

Oct. 29, 1867 - Feb. 28,1878.

24 items.

1 / 2 / Advertisements.

1846 - 1893

52 items.

1 / 3 / Financial Records.

Dec. 17, 1867 - Nov. 12, 1887.

36 items.

1 / 4 / Invitations, Programs & Addresses.

April 8, 1846 - June 28, 1869.

36 items.

1 / 5 / Invitations, Programs & Addresses.

July 8, 1870 - June 16, 1887.

39 items.

1 / 6 / Invitations, Programs, & Addresses.

June 16, 1890 - June 15, 1897.

17 items.

1 / 7 / Newspaper Clippings & Student


Oct. 2, 1845 - Nov. 11, 1977.

35 items.

1 / 8 / School Catalogs.

1845 - 1896.

28 items.

1 / 9 / Student Papers.

Sept. 8, 1848 - Oct. 18, 1869.

17 items.

1 / 10 / Student Papers.

May 7, 1870 - Oct. 15, 1877.

6 items.

1 / 11 / Student Papers.


10 items.

1 / 12 / Autograph Album.

1869 - 1873.

1 item.



1. Ellis, Frankly, History of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Philadelphia : R.T. Peck, 1885.

2. Wilber, Lillian L., The Early Schools of Freehold and Vicinity, 1667 - 1928. Asbury Park, N.J. : Schuyler Press, 1969.


Separation Record

Name of Collection: Collection No. 3
Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary Collection,
1845 - 1977 Acc. No. 1976-121

The following items have been removed from this collection:


1. Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary blank letterhead stationery. Letterheads.
n.d. 4 items. Placed in Vertical File

2. Duplicate advertising circulars. 1869 - 1880, 1 n.d. 6 items. Business Cards & Circulars. Placed in Vertical File:

3. Photograph of "Home Department" of Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary "Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary" showing Annie P. Perrine, Annie L. Seabrook, & A.C. Perrine in front.
June 14, 1870. 1 item. Placed in Photo File

4. Duplicate invitations, programs, & Addresses. 1853 - 1897.
24 items. Placed in Storage

5. Empty envelopes. n.d. 3 items. Placed in storage.

6. Duplicate school catalogs.
1846 - 1897. 23 items. Placed in storage.

7. Duplicate Newspaper clippings.
1878 - 1973. 8 items. Disposed.

8. Acc. #82.11.5, Rural Scene Print. OS 3 Freehold Young Ladies' "Painting Pattern" Seminary.

9. Photographs of Class of 1897, Framed, Graduates & Eunice D. Seawall, principal. To Photograph Collection



January 1991 - Framed photograph of Eunice D. Sewall, principal and the six graduates at Freehold Young Ladies' Seminary, Class of 1897, has been added.

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This page last updated 4 August 2008.

Copyright © 2017 Monmouth County Historical Association. All rights reserved. The contents of this site, including all images and text, are for personal, educational, non-commercial use only and may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of Monmouth County Historical Association.

This website was funded by the Marion Huber Trust

Museum & Library, 70 Court Street Freehold, NJ 07728
Monmouth County Historical Association received a general operating grant from the the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.
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