The school opened in 1828 as the South Carolina Female Institute, but in 1835 it added “Collegiate” to its name, reflecting the institution’s provision of a rigorous four-year classical curriculum.
Founded in 1828, Barhamville Academy was the common name for the South Carolina Female Collegiate Institute, an institution for the higher education of women that was located outside of Columbia. It was founded by Dr. Elias Marks (1790–1886), a physician and educator who served as principal of the Columbia Female Academy from 1817 to 1828. The school was located on property northeast of Columbia that Marks called “Barhamville” to honor his late wife, Jane Barham, a teacher who shared his commitment to the development of women’s intellectual abilities.
The school opened in 1828 as the South Carolina Female Institute, but in 1835 it added “Collegiate” to its name, reflecting the institution’s provision of a rigorous four-year classical curriculum. Marks was joined in his work by his second wife, Julia Warne, a graduate of Emma Willard’s Troy Female Seminary in New York and a former teacher. The school attracted boarding and day students, with a total enrollment of more than 120 students in 1855. The renowned surgeon J. Marion Sims recalled in his memoir that “it was the first and only school of its character in the South.” Among its most notable graduates were Ann Pamela Cunningham, who led the efforts to preserve Mount Vernon, and Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Dr. and Mrs. Marks retired from the school in 1861. In 1862 it continued under the leadership of Madame Acelie Togno, who had run a successful girls’ school in Charleston, and in 1863 Madame Sophie Sosnowski was in charge. The institution closed after the Civil War. The buildings were destroyed by fire in 1869. A historic marker on Two Notch Road in northeast Columbia marks the school’s location.
Cohen, Hennig, ed. A Barhamville Miscellany. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1956.
Rembert, Sarah H. “Barhamville: A Columbia Antebellum Girls School.” South Carolina History Illustrated 1 (February 1970): 44–48.