Speaker Series
Mary Z. Rose

August 2023

More Than Companions: Relationships Between Women Faculty at Monticello Female Seminary

The MCHS August Speaker Series program will be held on Sunday, August 13 at the Main Street Community Center at 1003 N. Main Street in Edwardsville, Illinois. Madison County Archival Library Research Director Mary Z. Rose will present a program that explores a largely unknown aspect of the history of Monticello Female Seminary. Her program is “More than Companions: Relationships between Women Faculty at Monticello Female Seminary.”; Benjamin Godfrey founded Monticello Female Seminary in 1838 because he recognized the importance of education for women. Mothers are always a child’s first teacher, making a woman’s education and influence critical to child development.

Rose will explore two of the school’s principals, Philena Fobes, who served from 1845–1865, followed by Harriet Newell Haskell, who held the position until her death in 1907. Neither Fobes nor Haskell married, but each was close to a woman who shared her life in a special way. These women were Sara Cady Eaton and Emily Gilmore Alden, teachers at Monticello during the Fobes and Haskell tenures, respectively. This program documents these relationships and makes the case for recognizing them as part of the LGBTQ history of Madison County. Monticello Female Seminary later Monticello College, was the oldest women’s seminary in the West until its closure in 1971. The school’s legacy continues through the Monticello College Foundation which continues to support women’s educational endeavors to this day. The Monticello campus is now the Godfrey campus of Lewis and Clark Community College.

MCHS Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. MCHS is a 501(c)3 charitable organization offering programs, exhibits, events, and resources to those interested in Madison County history. The Madison County Archival Library is located at 801 N. Main St. in Edwardsville, Illinois. For additional information, call 618-656-1294.