'Oh! for a blessing on Africa and America', the Mount Holyoke system and the Huguenot Seminary, 1874 - 1885.

23 January 2012

In November 1873, at the invitation of Andrew Murray, two American teachers arrived in the Cape Colony to establish a school to train middle class Dutch-Afrikaans girls to be teachers and missionaries. The two women were both alumni of the Mount Holyoke Seminary, and the institution that they founded in Wellington – the Huguenot Seminary – was modelled on the so-called 'Mount Holyoke system' of women’s education. While during Huguenot's first decade of existence this system was, with very little modification, able to achieve a great deal of success in the Colony – the school was popular with the Dutch-Afrikaans middle class and many of its students went on to teach and do mission work after graduating – in 1884 and 1885, the values and ideals underpinning the existence of the Seminary came under a sustained attack from the pupils at the school. This article seeks, thus, to investigate the implementation and reception of the 'Mount Holyoke system' in the Cape during Huguenot’s early years, and then examine why they were so strongly rejected in the mid-1880s.