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The Maritime log #27 - Girls from Seagoing Families Once Had a Public High School

November 14, 2018

The Maritime Log by Dyke Hendrickson

Girls from Seagoing Families Once Had a Public High School

by Dyke Hendrickson
Custom House Maritime Museum Outreach Historian
 Girls didn’t much participate in fishing or merchant trade in the
 19th century like boys did.
 And because vessels were often lost at sea, there were many children
 without fathers in this community.
 Indeed, the Maritime Society had a fund for widows and fatherless
 families during the Age of Sail, though funds were generally given
 only to the families of lost captains and mates.
 The families of missing crewmen were not aided, nor were kin of
 departed fishermen.
 Perhaps because there were so many young people in need of direction,
 Newburyport leaders created a public high school for girls.
 Girls did take French or dance or tutoring in the domestic arts in the
 mid-19th century. But those classes were private.
 The community – which became a city in 1851 – was among the first
 in the country to approve a high school for girls using public funds.
 The Female High School of Newburyport was in session on Washington
 Street from 1843 to 1866. It is shown here, circa 1850, from a photo
 in the archives of the Newburyport Public Library.
Female High School
 Archive documents indicate that it was successful, and attendance was
 But it closed in the late 1860s in the interests of
 “consolidation” and the building was consumed by fire in 1871.


If your organization would like me to speak at an event, please get in touch. I can be reached at

Thanks. Dyke Hendrickson

Dyke Hendrickson, Outreach Historian, The Maritime Log

The Maritime Log by Dyke Hendrickson

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