A Glance into the Past

Do you know what Thomas Meredith looks like? Have you seen pictures of the College's first building or of our first students? In honor of Founders' Day, on February 26 from 1-4 p.m., the College Archives will host an exhibit and talks about the founding of Meredith College. Drop by the Harris Room of the Library to explore documents and photographs and talk with Meredith Haynes, archives assistant, about the early history of the college.

A charter was granted for the Baptist Female University, now known as Meredith College, in 1891 by the Baptist State Convention. However, the idea for a Baptist female educational institution can be traced back to over 50 years before. In 1835, the Baptist State Convention formed a committee for the establishment of a female seminary. Thomas Meredith, whom the college is now named after, was a part of this committee for several years.  Meredith fought for a woman’s right to an education similar to that of men.

In 1891, a charter was granted for the all-female university. Just as Meredith wished, the university was founded on the principle that women would get an education similar to that of men. The school offered classes in the sciences, arts, humanities, and business. 

Before the school could open as an education institution, money was needed to construct the new campus. Oliver Stringfield, another important figure in the establishment of the college, traveled around to raise money for the school.  Most of the donations were no more than a dollar. Stringfield was known for his inspiring speeches made around the state of North Carolina.

Construction of the Baptist Female University finally began in 1895 in downtown Raleigh. The school first opened its doors in the fall of 1899 as the Baptist Female University. The name was soon changed in 1904 to the Baptist University for Women.  By 1910 the college received its current name, Meredith College, which honors the very man who spent many years fighting for women’s education in North Carolina. 

Meredith and Stringfield are just two of the many men and women who helped Meredith College become the institution it is today. To learn more about the men and women who were a part of Meredith’s pivotal founding and first years come to the Harris Room on February 26, 2014 to view archival materials from early Meredith. 

—Submitted by Meredith Haynes, Meredith Archives

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330