The Sharon Female Academy

Sharon Female Seminary, established in 1837 by Hicksite Quakers John and Rachel Jackson at their residence in Darby (later renamed ‘Sharon Hill’) offered a liberal arts education that combined teacher training and a liberal arts education with an increasing emphasis on natural philosophy, chemistry, astronomy, and other sciences.

The Academy was also part of a large farm, and several records refer to the fact that the Jacksons were also part of Delaware County’s Underground Railroad, using the farm to provide a safe haven for slaves before shepherding them on to the next stop on their journey.

The curriculum at the school was as forward thinking as the Quakers’ commitment to bring about an end to slavery.  An appreciation for Science was emerging in America in the 19th century that manifested itself not only in its curricula, but in also in forwarding the education in the field, to women. 

Scientific articles began appearing in general women’s magazines, and an increasing number of women attended public scientific lectures. Once engaged, some women—more than are generally recognized—went on to pursue science. By 1860 The Sharon Female Academy, along with many schools, had laid the foundation for greater women’s involvement in America’s scientific enterprise. The site of the school no longer remains, as the Convent of the Holy Child Jesus was built on top of the property c.1910.  Several accounts detailing how some slaves were aided by the Jacksons exist via online resources.  Photo credit:  Courtesy of Bob Seeley

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Special thanks to Keith Lockhart, Bob Seeley, Bill McDevitt, Harold Finnegan, Tom Smith, Karen Micha, Kate Clifford, Susan Mescanti, Carol Fireng, Leslie Potter, and Laurie Grant for sharing their knowledge, documents, articles, maps and photos with Visit Delco, PA.  Laurie Grant, Executive Director of the Delaware County Historical Society invites those seeking more information to visit their website. “Since 1895 DCHS remains true to its mission of Collecting, Protecting, and Preserving Delco history and tradition,” Laurie notes, “we also have a Museum Gallery, Research Library and Children’s Education Center.”