Opportunity and the KY Female Orphan School

October 1, 2010 in 1920s-30s, Primary source, Religious history, Social history

I’m ready to refine my research to people and organizations that are associated with my service learning project. The list is growing. A few off the top are Kentucky Female Orphan School, Midway Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dr. L. L. Pinkerton, and Lucy Peterson.

Lucy was a mathematics instructor who went on to be a principal and then superintendent. She was administrative head till 1941. Lucy wrote the schools Alma Mater and in 1960 she wrote a manuscript: “MISS LUCY’S STORY: AS SHE SAW IT.” It was published by the Kentucky Female Orphan School. This publication is not in circulation, so I will be taking a walk over to Midway College‘s Library: Little Memorial Library to take a look.

I am not surprised by the vast amount of material which is online about Dr. L. L. Pinkerton. A medical doctor who abandoned his medical practice to follow his calling as a theologian. He became the minister of Midway Christian Church from 1844-1860. For his time, he was very controversial. He introduced instrumental accompaniment to congressional worship singing. A controversy in itself spanning to present day worship among various churches, for example the Church of Christ holds firm with their acappella form of worship singing. Pinkerton is also a liberal who believed in equality; civil rights and education for women, blacks, and black women. What is thought to be the first “Negro” Christian Church in the United States, gathered for worship at the Kentucky Female Orphan School.

As I process all this information and search for ideas and details to discuss with my group regarding our service learning project mission, my distinct feeling is of opportunity. For who? Women, blacks, black women, minority, the under-privileged and for those willing to make a difference in their life: internal, external, or both. The mission statement at Midway College expounds on this opportunity.

10 responses to Opportunity and the KY Female Orphan School

  1. This is a terrific project – and I hope that as part of the work your group does on this history that you will get permission for us to publish the Lucy Peterson manuscript online for everyone to see! Talk with the librarians about whether or not this is possible.

    • I have recently been given a photo album in which I believe many of the pictures taken in 1917 were of the Kentucky Female Orphan School. In order to document my “guess”, one of the pictures is titled 1917 Freshman class and teacher Zoe Ethel Smith.. I did some research on Zoe and found that she did teach in Ky and she was born Mar 1883 in Barron Co., Ky. She never married and died 18 Mar 1969 in Benton Co., Ark.
      These pictures belonged to my Aunt and I am hoping that one of the young women in the pictures is my mystery grand mother, Nora Josephine Anderson. I would like to find a list of students in Ms. Smith’s 1917 freshman class. Thanks.

      • Dear Nancy, A book published in 1930 by Harry Giovannoli titled “Kentucky Female Orphan School, A History” lists graduates for each year up to that date. Some of the earlier years are not complete due to poor record preservation. Here is a link to some information about this book. http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6749795M/Kentucky_female_orphan_school_a_history. I was able to access a copy in the special collections of M. I. King Library on campus of the University of Kentucky. Also, here is digital access to the book, but not complete and the pages you’ll be looking for are not yet scanned. (A work in progress.) http://www.usgwarchives.org/ky/woodford/history/books/kfos1930.html I hope this will help. As for a detailed list of a specific class may take some digging, but not impossible. From what information I’ve gathered, archive papers are at the school (Midway College, Little Memorial Library) but not cataloged or scanned. I would love to help you identify the school in your pictures. Would you be willing to scan and upload them for me to see? Please feel free to contact me.

        • I will scan them this weekend..can you send me your direct email address..I do not think I can post them here.
          I found that book vis google books but it is not complete as you mentioned online.
          Thanks for any help..genealogy is just a great mystery.
          Nancy Perry

          • Hi Nancy, When school is back in session I will offer my help to check in Harry Giovannoli’s book for Nora Josephine Anderson’s name in a graduating class or any mention of Zoe Ethel Smith. I look forward to viewing your pictures. aplatonic3@gmail.com.com

          • Hi Nancy,
            Do you want to become an author on the KYWCRH.org site? It would be wonderful to have you post a research article on what you have found about the Kentucky Female Orphan School. Send me a message @hollingsworth if you would like to do this.

  2. From the sound of it, opportunity and this school are synonymous. Those associated with the school seem like they were such forward thinkers of their time, and had in mind a greater society for all. This will be an amazing legacy to continue in your service learning project!
    Also, it is really neat that the first negro church in the U.S. is said to have met at the school. Another of many firsts for Kentucky!

    • Well, this statement of “first” is a little misleading – they meant the first (segregated) Disciples of Christ Church founded by and for African-Americans. The Baptists had allowed for a Black congregation to form their own Baptist churches in Lexington in the early 1800s – before the Disciples of Christ even existed. By the way, many early Kentucky churches had mixed congregations for a long time (mostly so that the white slave-owning community could keep an eye on what was going on), and an exciting part of Kentucky history is the brave African-Americans who chose to start up their own churches and worship without the oversight of whites. It’s not clear what the role of women was in these efforts since little is recorded beyond what the male preachers did – but I suspect the women did much to support and organize what the church membership did.

  3. Dr. Hollingsworth, thank you for clarification about the “first” Black Christian Church in Midway as being a different denomination established independently from earlier Black Baptist churches in Lexington.

  4. Sure – we need to be doing this for each other as we learn together. One more thought… neither Farrell nor Durant chose to use the word “negro” in their church names, so it’s probably safe to assume that in today’s descriptions of their efforts, we shouldn’t either. The word “Negro” was a racialized term used by whites to differentiate people of color, and in this instance, it was probably used to indicate the particular Midway church run by African-Americans who had converted to the Disciples of Christ.

    Keep in mind that when we quote from a historical primary source that uses the word “Negro,” it was usually capitalized as a proper noun. This format is meant to signify what was then considered a scientifically defined race of people. In today’s scholarly language we put quotation marks around this word to signify its historical nature — and to emphasize that it is not a word that we use now that our scientists agree this race classification is erroneous (given our new knowledge about genetics and racialized identity). Our language is so highly politicized and we as historians can work together to strive to be as precise as possible.

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