Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lutheran Ladies Seminary, Red Wing, Minnesota

This is the high school/college that my mother-in-law's mother went to school. Let's call her Alma Sophia, first, because that was her name and second, because milm sounds like one of the acronyms that seems totally inappropriate for a sweet Victorian lady.

Let's take a little walk through her scrapbook.

Built in 1894 it is located on a bluff overlooking the city of Red Wing, Minnesota and the Mississippi river. It is an imposing brick building that includes a dining hall, main building, and a music hall. Alma Sophia attended this school from the time she was about 14 until 18.

All three of her sisters, Ida Josephine, Mabel Caroline, and Cora Theresa, attended this school.

The goal of this seminary was to give pupils a practical collegiate and preparatory Christian based education that included the usual academic, literary, musical, art, religious, and scientific courses.

The students were typically boarders and Alma Sophia was no different. The school year of 1908/1909 there were 183 women enrolled. Their nationality ranged from Norwegian, German, American, Swedish, Danish, Swiss, and Finish. You would think that most of these pupils would be American but that is not the case. The majority were German. Alma and her sisters were of the 11 American girls but may have been included in with the 10 Norwegians. Since, both their parents were Norwegian.

The majority of the students (57) were enrolled in the art departmnet. Then in the seminary (55). The next portion were in the domestic economy department (40). I'm sure that is exactly what it sounds like, "How to be a Housewife". There was one girl that was enrolled in the normal school (teachers college). This was the budding teacher in the bunch. The vocal, violin, and piano departments made up a good number of the pupils.

These images were taken from a scrapbook kept be Alma. It's dated 1910. She was a senior that year. By December of 1910 she was married to, what I'm pretty sure her father thought of as a foreigner, an immigrated Canadian. He was a much older man. 33 years old to her 18.

The girl in the middle was flouting convention by being photographed with her hair down. *Gasp* The hussy!

All dressed up to go shopping. Don't forget your gloves and hat.
I'm not sure what the whole "crush" thing was about. Anyone?

Harrison Fisher was a famous illustrator around this time (1910s) Who's models were fresh faced outdoorsy country types. Isn't it cute that Alma considered her friends fashion models?

Looks like they had a pretty good time.

Chances are all these photographs were taken with an Eastman Brownie Box camera like the one below. Pretty progressive of them to own one.

There's the bell. You're all released. Remember read chapter 2; Properly hooking your shoe buttons and corset lacing.


Most of the information is from the History of Goodhue County, Minnesota by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge. 1909. page 288-289. Thank you Google for being the pro-active money grubbing corporation that you are because you have digitized a boatload of stuff. The picture of the Brownie camera is straight from Wikipedia. Why yes, I am too lazy to find an authoritative source.


  1. This was a great post and the photographs were so good. A simpler time perhaps?

  2. Ah, the librarian in you comes out! A fascinating post.

    "...because milm sounds like one of the acronyms that seems totally inappropriate for a sweet Victorian lady."

    You make me laugh, girl.

    Speaking of laughing, my word verification is "parialip". *snicker*

  3. Seriously, these posts are like a drink of water. And I am THIRSTY! Keep em coming, Michele!

  4. Very cool.

    The school is beautiful and I love the scrap book.

  5. Wonderful post!


  6. I loved this, thanks!
    Old photos are so interesting. The first thing I noticed was that girl's hair was down; I NEVER saw an old photo with hair down.
    Thanks for sharing these.

  7. Very interesting. I would love to visit that era .... only visit though!

    (BTW You asked why the leg of Kitcat's pants was hitched up in my last Pics 'n' Poems post - she had a tiny graze on her shin and was proudly showing her cousins when I brought the camera out.)

  8. That school is beautiful. And I like the hussy with her hair down, hilarious. Keep these family history posts coming.

  9. That was lovely. I didn't get your milm reference the first time Nice job.

  10. The use of the word "crush" or "smash" at the time referred to a strong platonicfor the most part, female friendship that included courting with flowers and love poems between the girls. Often it was between a freshman and a senior and was like a mentorship. These friendships often endured through the adult years.

  11. This is so totally cool. Thanks for making a great post. My grandmother went to this school too. I have her scrap book with similar pictures as well. There is a picture of the school, her dorm room, the dining room and lots of pics with classmates as well as a senior picnic on the MIssissippi River. There is one pic that shows the girls partying and smoking!!! It reminded me of the Virginia Slim cigarette commercial..."You've come a long way baby!!!" She attended the school around 1900-1906??? Nina