MANUSCRIPT LEDGER, A RECORD OF STUDENT ACCOUNTS AND EXPENSES FOR THE LADIES ACADEMY OF THE VISITATION, GEORGETOWN, WASHINGTON, D.C., 1858-1863
MANUSCRIPT LEDGER, A RECORD OF STUDENT ACCOUNTS AND EXPENSES FOR THE LADIES ACADEMY OF THE VISITATION, GEORGETOWN, WASHINGTON, D.C., 1858-1863

MANUSCRIPT LEDGER, A RECORD OF STUDENT ACCOUNTS AND EXPENSES FOR THE LADIES ACADEMY OF THE VISITATION, GEORGETOWN, WASHINGTON, D.C., 1858-1863

Narrow folio. 37 x 16 cm. [2], 180, [3] pp. Leather backed marbled paper boards, spine perished, boards detached. Small ownership label on rear pastedown. A record of accounts for the young female pupils at the school, both boarders and day students, as well as lists of expenditures for rent, music and dance lessons, teacher's salaries, seamstresses, advertising, etc., plus payments on notes at both the Bank of Washington and the Bank of the Metropolis. All in a legible hand. Although the name of the school is not given, the record of students, which includes daughters of many Congressmen and other luminaries, both Union and Confederate, identifies the institution as the Ladies Academy of the Visitation [now known as Georgetown Visitation] in Washington, D.C. On the first unnumbered leaf, used out of chronological order, is a record of expenses for the school for November and December 1861, and a note for three days in March 1862: "10 March: The Army of the Potomac moved toward Manassas. 11: Rumor of its evaluation. 12: Confirmed."
The entries for the young students include information on their status as members of the primary, middle or junior departments, and lists of copy books and texts charged to their accounts: Walker's Dictionary, Brown's Grammar, Cornell's Geography, Parker's Reader, Davies' Arithmetic, a Shakespeare Reader, Telemaque [by Fenelon], etc. Additional expenses for music lessons, drawing and dancing are mentioned. [Samuel] Carusi, listed as a music teacher in Boyd's Washington and Georgetown City Directory of 1862, was paid for providing dancing lessons to Emily C. Randolph in 1859. W.B. Bowie was charged $300 for his daughter Ellen Ann, who entered the school as a yearly boarder in Oct. 1860. A list of pupils as of Sept. 28, 1863, is given on page 152, 22 young ladies from 16 different families.
Other students include: Hon. Jefferson Davis' daughter Maggie, [Charles Francis] Adams' daughter Mary, Richard D. Cutts' daughter Anna Gertrude [Cutts was a nephew of Dolley Madison, and later a Brevet Brig. General in the Union Army], Michigan Senator Z[achariah] Chandler's daughter Mary, Felix Senac's daughter Robina Angela [Senac came to Washington as purser for the U.S. Navy, and later became Confederate States Navy agent to Europe], as well as the daughters of Capt. John A. Dahlgren [Commander of the Washington Navy Yard during the Civil War], Prof. Henry, Capt. [Montgomery] Meigs, Count Pourtales, Louisiana Senator John Slidell, Gen. George Thomas, Texas Senator [Louis] Wiggfall [sic- Wigfall], New Jersey Senator John C. Ten Eyck, etc. A record on page 47 shows Mrs. Robert Greenhow's accounts for her daughter Leila, for August 1859. Rose O'Neal Greenhow became a Confederate spy inside Washington during the Civil War, arrested and imprisoned with another one of her daughters in 1861. Item #65494

The Ladies Academy of the Visitation is described in the 1862 Boyd's City Directory of Washington D.C., as located at the corner of Fayette and 4th Streets in Georgetown. Founded in 1799, it "has for more than half a century enjoyed a reputation second to no female institution in the country. It is located on the Heights, commanding a view of the Potomac, and a distant perspective of Washington city. The situation is healthy and picturesque…. The course of instruction comprises drawing, painting, needlework and embroidery, music, a complete historical course, the languages, and the various branches of polite literature. The academic year commences on the first Monday of September, and ends about the middle of July. It is divided into two sessions.”
Constance McLaughlin Green, in her book "Washington: A History of the Capital, 1800-1950," [Princeton: 1976, Vol. 1, p.214], notes that the primary method of education in the ante-bellum city was through private institutions: “By 1860 about twenty-nine hundred pupils, approximately 29 percent of the white children of school age, were enrolled in the public schools, in contrast to 78 percent in some northern cities. Illiteracy in the District had by then risen to nearly 11 percent of the white population. Private schools provided all education beyond the elementary in both Washington and Georgetown. Some thirty-three hundred boys and girls attended private institutions, either those for beginners or one of the forty-two academies and young ladies’ seminaries. Sisters taught at the Catholic orphanages and at the Convent of the Visitation in Georgetown, where daughters of many well-to-do families, Protestant as well as Catholic, received an excellent education.”
The brief mention of the Army of the Potomac, on the move on March 10, 1862, refers to the advancement of the Union Army toward Washington, D.C. The Potomac River had been blockaded by the Confederate Navy from Oct. 1861 until early March 1862, isolating the city. It withdrew from the area, along with the Confederate Army on March 9, 1862. [see: Jan Townsend's "The Civil War in Prince William County (Prince William Hist. Commission: 2011)].

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