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Graham Hall

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Black and white photograph of the Graham Hall basketball squad, ca.1908.

The Graham Hall basketball squad, ca.1908. Image is from the Graham Hall annual catalog, 1909–1910.

From 1900–1915, the girls’ preparatory school Graham Hall catered to well-to-do Minneapolis families with an elite pre-college curriculum. The school also offered a general course of study and elementary education. Graham Hall was eventually reincorporated under a board of trustees as the Northrop Collegiate School for Girls, which, in turn, became a part of the Blake School.

In the summer of 1900, the Minneapolis Classical School, a college preparatory school for boys at 2244 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, announced the opening of a girls’ department, to be called Graham Hall. The school’s principal, Arthur D. Hall, tapped Carrie F. Bartlett and Smith College graduate Zulema Ruble to be associate principals in charge of the girls’ division. Named after Ruble’s mother, Graham Hall was intended to prepare girls for Wellesley, Smith, Wells, Bryn Mawr, and other women’s colleges.

By the fall of 1902, the Minneapolis Classical School had ceased to use the names “Morgan Hall” and “Graham Hall” to refer to its separate boys’ and girls’ courses of instruction. That same fall, Ruble and Bartlett began to advertise Graham Hall as an independent girls’ preparatory school, at a “new and permanent location.” It would now comprise three buildings in what the school catalog termed “one of the best residence sections of Minneapolis,” which was on First Avenue between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets.

Graham Hall offered three courses of study: a general course designed for girls “not desiring a college education,” a postgraduate course for its own alumnae, and a college preparatory course.

A women’s college like Wellesley, in Massachusetts, required its entering freshmen to present credentials in English, Latin, and mathematics, as well as an additional foreign language or chemistry or physics. Graham Hall structured its college preparatory curriculum accordingly. A Graham Hall girl enrolled in this course studied English, history, French, German, Latin, Greek, mathematics, science, reading and speaking, and physical training. Elective courses in bible studies, household economics, music, and psychology were also offered.

An all-female faculty taught all courses. Knowledge of Latin and Greek was essential for any girl aspiring to college, but Graham Hall also insisted that its students take gymnastics classes. Graham Hall athletics teams—especially basketball—practiced regularly and competed with other schools. Plays, dramatics, and music were also regular parts of school life.

Graham Hall maintained a Junior School, which enrolled students beginning at age six. Both girls and boys could attend through the fifth grade. These younger students received a foundational education in speaking, writing, and spelling, endured daily “mental arithmetic” drills, learned French or German, and began Latin by the seventh grade.

The cost of attending Graham Hall depended on the grade level and whether the student lived at school or at home. During the 1909–1910 school year, for instance, attendance in grades one through four cost $85 per year, while the “Academic Department”—high school—years were $150 per year. To live at school and attend classes cost $500 per year. Extra fees were charged for music lessons ($52 for a year’s worth of weekly piano lessons), laundry ($0.75 for a dozen pieces), a seat at church ($5), and lunch ($0.25 a day).

In 1910, co-founder Carrie Bartlett left the school; her interest was taken over by Alyda MacLain and Isoline Lang. Two years later, Zulema Ruble ended her connection with the school. As a condition of the contract that bought out her interest, Ruble agreed not to own, operate, or “in any wise be interested in or connected with any other private school in Minneapolis, Minnesota.”

MacLain and Lang were principals of the school for approximately two years. Louise Knappen, an associate principal, suggested that Graham Hall be reorganized under a board of trustees. She maintained her one-third interest in Graham Hall and remained until, in the summer of 1914, the all-male board purchased the interests of MacLain and Lang. At the end of the school year, Knappen departed to do graduate work at Columbia University. In the fall of 1915, Graham Hall became known as the Northrop Collegiate School for Girls, taking its name from Cyrus Northrop, president emeritus of the University of Minnesota. Northrop became a part of the Blake School in 1917.

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Annual Report of the U.S. Commission of Education,1900–1901. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1902.

Annual Report of the U.S. Commission of Education, 1902. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1903.

Annual Report of the U.S. Commission of Education,1905–1906. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1907.

Atwater, Isaac, ed. History of the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Part I. New York: Munsell, 1893.

“Graham Hall.” Advertisement. Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, August 31, 1902.

“Graham Hall: A Boarding and Day School for Girls.” Advertisement. Minneapolis Journal, August 30, 1906.

“Graham Hall Pupils Present Handsome Gift to Miss Louise Knappen.” Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, May 16, 1915.

Graham Hall, 1908–1913
Library Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
Description: The annual catalog of Graham Hall. See especially the catalogs covering 1908–1909 and 1911–1912.

Meyers, Harry J., ed. and comp. American College and Private School Directory. Vol. 4. Chicago: Educational Aid Society, 1910. Smith Alumnae Quarterly XXV (August 1934): 439.

Northrop Collegiate School, 1915–1918, 1922–1925, 1927–1931, 1936–1942, 1953–1954
Description: The annual catalog of Northrop Collegiate School. See especially the catalog covering 1915–1916.

Margaret and Stanley Harper papers, 1804–1988 (bulk 1900–1980)
Manuscript Collection, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00199.xml#a9
Description: Personal correspondence, picture postcards, diaries, account books, travel diaries, genealogical information, academic materials, photographs, and other personal papers of a Minneapolis family.

“Minneapolis Classical School.” Advertisement. Minneapolis Journal, August 31, 1901.

“Minneapolis Classical School.” Advertisement. Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, September 2, 1900

“Part in Graham Hall Sold.” Minneapolis Morning Tribune, July 25, 1914.

Shutter, Marion Daniel, ed. History of Minneapolis, Gateway to the Northwest. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing, 1923.

“Teachers at Graham Hall Studying During Summer.” Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, August 17, 1913.

Wellesley College. "Report of the President, 1909" (1909). Presidents' Reports. Book 9.
http://repository.wellesley.edu/presidentsreports/9

Woolman, Janet. Expecting Good Things of All: 100 Years of Academic Excellence at Northrop Collegiate School, Blake School, Highcroft Country Day School and the Blake School(s). Minneapolis: Blake School, 2002.

Zulema A. Ruble. Find A Grave.
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=89720063

Related Images

Black and white photograph of the Graham Hall basketball squad, ca.1908.
Black and white photograph of the Graham Hall basketball squad, ca.1908.
Graham Hall campus, ca. 1909.
Graham Hall campus, ca. 1909.
Black and white photograph of the Graham Hall tennis courts, ca. 1908.
Black and white photograph of the Graham Hall tennis courts, ca. 1908.
Black and white photograph of the student cast of the drama “Elopement of Ellen,” at Graham Hall, ca. 1909.
Black and white photograph of the student cast of the drama “Elopement of Ellen,” at Graham Hall, ca. 1909.
Black and white photograph of the dining rooms of Graham Hall, ca. 1908.
Black and white photograph of the dining rooms of Graham Hall, ca. 1908.
Black and white photograph of a student bedroom inside Graham Hall, 1912 or 1913.
Black and white photograph of a student bedroom inside Graham Hall, 1912 or 1913.
Color image of a Graham Hall report card, 1908.
Color image of a Graham Hall report card, 1908.
Color image of an informal uniform for Graham Hall students.
Color image of an informal uniform for Graham Hall students.
Color image of a pair of bloomers, ca. pre-1927.
Color image of a pair of bloomers, ca. pre-1927.

Turning Point

After remaining co-founder Zulema Ruble leaves Graham Hall in 1912, the school evolves from a private institution owned by women into one led by a male-dominated board.

Chronology

1900

In September, Minneapolis Classical School opens a girls’ department called Graham Hall; it is organized under Zulema Ruble and Carrie Bartlett.

ca. 1901/1902

Graham Hall begins to operate independently and moves to First Avenue between Eighteenth and Nineteenth Streets.

1902

In the spring, Graham Hall boasts thirty-three elementary pupils (boys and girls) and twelve secondary students (all girls), graduating two of them. There are five secondary instructors.

1905

The school moves to three houses at 1800–1804 First Avenue South.

1906

Graham Hall graduates eight girls, four of them bound for college, in the spring. The secondary school has forty girls total, while there are thirty-nine elementary students—nine of them boys.

1910

Carrie Bartlett leaves Graham Hall.

1912

Zulema Ruble leaves Graham Hall.

1914

In August, a newly appointed, all-male board of trustees purchases a two-thirds interest in Graham Hall.

May 1915

Principal Louise Knappen leaves Graham Hall, selling her remaining one-third share of the school to the board of trustees.

July 1915

The board of trustees chooses a new site for the school, to be built on Kenwood Parkway in Minneapolis.

September 1915

The board of trustees re-names the school Northrop Collegiate School for Girls.