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Temple Grove Seminary Collection

Identifier: SCA-006

Scope and Contents

The collection is a resource for those researching the history Saratoga Springs, the history of education for women in the second half of the 19th century and genealogists.

While the majority of the documents concern Temple Grove Seminary (owned and operated by Charles F. Dowd from the period 1968 to 1900) there are some catalogs and ephemera about two schools related to Temple Grove. One was a school pre-existing Temple Grove in Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga Ladies Seminary, open only a few years, 1853 – 1855, and a school located north of Saratoga Springs owned by Charles Dowd before he bought Temple Grove called the North Granville Ladies Seminary (open 1860 – 1868). The Saratoga Ladies Seminary became the physcial grounds for Temple Grove; the North Granville school was the model Dowd used for his new school in Saratoga Springs. The collection contains very little on these early schools --only a few catalogs for the Saratoga Ladies Seminary (1855 - 1860); and for North Granville only the end of year programs and two issues of the school literary journal, the North Granville Quarterly (1867 and 1868) exist in this collection.

The bulk of the collection is about Temple Grove Seminary while the Dowd family was in charge. Documents in the collection are arranged by subject and by type of document, including catalogs, programs, photographs, as well as files on key individuals and standard time. The school catalogs for Temple Grove Seminary (1868 – 1897) contain a wealth of information about the school’s mission, curriculum, cost of enrollment, as well as containing information on enrolled students, instructors and alumnae. The institution was modeled after a Christian home where girls and young women took courses to develop the mind and train for society. There is no mention of preparing the pupils for any one occupation-- the emphasis was on educating them to be “better women.” The instruction at Temple Grove in physical sciences, psychology, economics and the emphasis on physical education for women was considered by some contemporaries to be unusual in its day. By 1895 the school offered, “university preparatory courses.”

In addition to annual catalogs, single-sheet programs describe school musical events and the Anniversary and Graduating Exercises. There is biographical information on Charles Dowd and some notes written by Helen North. Information on Mrs. Harriet Dowd is absent and may be part of the Harriet Dowd papers in the archives at Mount Holyoke College. The files of the Temple Grove Alumnae Association along with identified photographs and student composition provide some insight into student life at the school. Temple Grove Alumnae Association was active well into the 1920’s and lent its support to the young Skidmore College through a fundraising campaign for the Helen North scholarship. The student compositions are by Mary E. Fish, North Granville Ladies Seminary graduate of 1863 and by Agnes Isabel Ritchie, 1883 graduate of Temple Grove. These are valuable examples of handwritten student work. The small cartes de visite photos and larger cabinet portraits are in good condition and many are identified and dated. Also of significant research value are the scrapbooks containing programs, news clippings and the minutes of the Temple Grove Board, which chronicles some of the business of financing the school with the support of prominent local families.


  • Creation: 1855 - 1930

Biographical / Historical

Establishing a school for young women in Saratoga. In 1855 the Rev. Luther F. Beecher went into business with Mr. Carter, principal of the Saratoga Female Seminary, to establish a school for young women. They constructed a new building designed to house a boarding school during the winter and a hotel in the summer and called it the Saratoga Female Seminary at Temple Grove. By 1860 Mr. Carter was no longer with the school. Beecher continued as its principal for a few years, changing the name to Temple Grove Institute but the school closed. Dr. Charles F. Dowd (1825 – 1904), principal 1868 to 1898

Charles F. Dowd Dowd came to Saratoga Springs to purchase and re-open the Temple Grove school in 1868. Dowd improved the Temple Grove building with new plumbing, steam heat (an innovation in its time for the city), a gymnasium and laboratories. Dowd was a graduate of Yale College (1853). He later completed a Ph.D. in theology from the University of New York. He is known for having originated and promoted the System of Standard Time. Dowd was principal from 1868 to 1898 with his wife. Harriet M. Dowd, (Mount Holyoke, class of 1851). The charter was made permanent in 1879. Dowd retired in 1898. The school continued under his son Franklin D. Dowd until 1900. In 1903 the Seminary building and grounds were purchased by Mrs. Lucy Scribner.

Site of the downtown campus of Skidmore College

Lucy Skidmore Scribner purchased the building and grounds of Temple Grove in April, 1903 for the newly formed Young Women's Industrial Club. In 1911 the Club was re-named the Skidmore School of Arts and in 1922 was chartered as a four-year liberal arts college known from 1922 as Skidmore College. By 1922 the site of Temple Grove had evolved into the center of the downtown campus of Skidmore College. The Temple Grove Seminary building still exists in Saratoga Springs on the corner of Circular and Spring Street.

Temple Grove Alumnae Association

The alumnae association of Temple Grove Seminary adopted a constitution on June 14, 1887 to, “...promote further growth and development and establish friendly relations among the graduates of N.G. L. S. [North Granville Ladies Seminary] and T.G. S. [Temple Grove Seminary] ...” The alumna planned to meet annually during Anniversary Week. The first officers were Mrs. M.J. Francisco, president, Mrs. O.J. Travers, vice-president, Miss. A. Louise Strong, secretary and Miss Bertha N. Dowd, treasurer. The Association published a series of directories listing graduates from both institutions. In honor of their teacher, Helen North, the alumnae raised money for a scholarship and a book fund in her name at Skidmore School of Arts.

(Sources: The Alumnae of Temple Grove, 1887, Quinquennial Catalogue of 1885, Lester Brothers publication titled, Temple Grove, Durkee’s Reminiscences of Saratoga, and The Saratoga Union, Dec. 25, 1889).


3.5 Cubic Feet (3 archival boxes of documents, 2 boxes of photographs, 1 minute book, 2 scrapbooks)

Language of Materials


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Repository Details

Part of the Scribner Library Archives, Skidmore College Repository