The Memphis Conference Female Institute 1843

Yesterday I was watching a report of young ladies going off to college. Some arriving at college with several cars of their belongings. Amazing 

Can you imagine what it would have been like for young women getting ready to go to “college” in 1844?

 For example coming from a small community to Jackson the young lady would come in a carriage or by stage. If she were lucky her mother or father would accompany her to help her get settled.

 Her room if she had a single room would have a bed, a desk and a wardrobe for her clothes. Maybe she would bring her  trunk that would have her clothes, linens, books and misc. personal items. But only one trunk .

If she was lucky she would go home for Christmas. Maybe her family would come visit durning the year. Most of the ladies would stay until their course work was completed. Communication would be by letters from their family and friends. These letters and if they were lucky photos would be treasured.

The community ladies would invite the girls to attend church ,  social events or enjoy a meal with some of the families in town.

A different place in time.
Most of the ladies that attended the MCFI were determined to make their family proud.

Now for the history of MCFI.

The Memphis Conference Female Institute founded and chartered in 1843, at Jackson. As its name indicates, it is strictly a female school under control of the Methodist Church South. This institution is in the forty-third year of its existence. It employs a faculty of thirteen regular instructors. To the institute twenty-seven commencement sermons have been preached, and twenty-eight annual addresses have been delivered. The first building proved to be inadequate for the demands and in 1855 it was greatly enlarged. The institute has grown in popularity and usefulness notwithstanding opposition and adverse circumstances, until it now ranks among the best in the State. In 1885 the east wing was erected, containing a large dining hall and twelve additional boarding rooms. The main building (four stories high) contains the president’s office, family rooms, and seventeen boarding rooms. The west wing contains the chapel, music department, art department, reading room, library of 4,000 volumes, and recitation rooms.

The buildings are of brick and are all under one roof. The grounds are five acres in extent and are tastefully laid in walks, and ornamented with flowers and shaded with trees. About 500 young ladies have graduated from the institute and gone into fields of usefulness. The attendance numbers about 200. The institute, under control of Dr. Jones since its inception, is carried on with singular economy, and is intended to bring out the higher moral and intellectual qualities of the mind



On December 2, 1843, the Memphis Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church received a charter from the Tennessee General Assembly authorizing the establishment of a young women’s preparatory school and college to be named the Memphis Conference Female Institute (MCFI). Located in Jackson on five acres of land that had been the site of a Presbyterian college, the new college soon won renown for its quality education as a result of the work of its presidents, Dr. Lorenzo Lea, Dr. Amos W. Jones, and Dr. A. B. Jones, who succeeded his father. During the Civil War, the college buildings served as a hospital for Union troops, while the school continued to operate in the home of Dr. Amos Jones.

The degree of Mistress of English Literature was conferred on the early graduates who completed the English course; those who completed additional work in Latin or one of the modern languages received the A.M. A bachelor of arts degree was added in 1912, as was a Conservatory of Music and a School of Expression, Art, and Domestic Art.

In the early twentieth century financial difficulties led to the decision to make the institution coeducational. The MCFI charter was amended on January 3, 1923, to provide for coeducation and to change the name to Lambuth College in honor of the Reverend Walter R. Lambuth, M.D. To expand its facilities, the college moved from the corner of Chester and Institute streets to its present location on Lambuth Boulevard. In the fall of 1924 Lambuth College admitted its first class of male students.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s