In 1865, William E. Ward and his wife, Eliza Hudson Ward, opened Ward Seminary for Young Ladies in Nashville, Tennessee, to offer “a full and thorough course of instruction, embracing academic and collegiate work.”
In 1870, the Educational Bureau in Washington, D.C., ranked Ward Seminary among the top three educational institutions for women in the nation. The school also placed emphasis on athletics, organizing the first girls’ varsity basketball team in the South and one of the first in the nation.
Belmont College for Young Women, founded by Susan L. Heron and Ida E. Hood, opened on September 4, 1890. Modeled on the women’s colleges of the Northeast, the school was established on a 15-acre site centered on Belmont, the home of Adelicia Hayes Acklen Cheatham, which was built in 1850.
Ward Seminary and Belmont College for Young Women merged in 1913 to form Ward-Belmont, the first junior college in the South to receive full accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. By the 1920s, it had an enrollment of more than 1,200 women.
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