The best source of information on this phase of the Seminary
comes from a series of articles written by Ric Nelson for the

NPS Alumnae Bulletin.
Those articles, and many of the photos which appear here,
are copyrighted by Ric Nelson. 
The photos are used here with his permission.

Life for the students of National Park Seminary was a mixture of close regulation and restrictive rules and reminders of the privileged places in society that they were being groomed to accept.

The girls' comings and goings were tightly controlled. Schedules were to be posted on dorm room doors along with notes explaining where they were if not in their rooms. The girls were not allowed to travel to D.C. or to meet young men except under the watchful eye of chaperones. They were not allowed to ride on streetcars. After 1909, they wore uniforms ("Peter Thompson" sailor suits), were not allowed to wear cosmetics, and were not allowed to wear jewelry except for simple pieces with formal wear. They were expected to walk 100 miles per year.

Mondays were routinely a day for the girls to travel by train en masse to Washington, where they would shop at Woodward & Lothrup. For safety's sake, the train would back out from Union Station so that it would be pointed in the right direction when the girls were on-board. The routine was reversed on the return trip.

The school calendar was filled with special events, dances, dinners, pageants, etc. For instance, it was a tradition to have the employees come forward for Christmas bonuses at the annual Christmas dinner. The girls always cheered Charles Bullock, a favorite. Dinners were usually attended by fifty uniformed serving maids. At special dinners, there were also uniformed waiters, often college students from Howard University who earned a little extra money this way. The dining room was furnished with beautiful tables and over 350 Chippendale chairs. Girls were expected to dress in formal attire for dinner. In the early days, no one was permitted to leave the table until all had finished. The girls were permitted a half hour of dancing (females only) after lunch and dinner. NPS was also famous for certain food items: the sticky buns and "Lord Baltimore" layer cakes baked for each girl's birthday by Mrs. Julia Smith.

There are still a number of alumnae living who keep alive the traditions of NPS. The National Park College Alumnae Association publishes a newsletter and sponsors annual "house parties" for the alumnae. It can be contacted through Mrs. Charles Seitz at (203) 869-8168.


This page was last maintained on 05/21/98.