Elizabeth College Photo Gallery
Images of Young Women at Elizabeth College in 1914.
In 1914 the Victorian era was fast approaching its death. World War One
would erupt upon the scene in August of that year, and the self-confidence
and optimism of European culture would never recover. The young women in the
1914 photographs that follow were students at Elizabeth College, located at
the present site of Presbyterian Hospital. Everything about them -- the way
they dress, their posture, certainly their athletic uniforms -- tell us how
a Victorian lady in Charlotte was expected to behave.
You are standing at the intersection of Elizabeth Ave., named for the
college, and Hawthorne Ln. Notice that the streets are not paved. The year
is about 1896. The large building on the left was the main classroom and
dormitory building. The building on the right was the Gerard Conservatory of
Music. Elizabeth College was a women's school. It closed in 1915 and moved
to Salem, Va. The property was then bought by Presbyterian Hospital, which
still occupies this prominent hilltop.
Victorian women were supposed to be beautiful. This was Anna Jackson
Preston, mascot of the Class of 1914. There is nothing spontaneous about
this photograph. Film speed meant that subjects had to sit perfectly still.
Isn't she beautiful? Indeed, she is, from the bow atop her bonnet to the hem
of her delicate dress.
These were the members of the Matrimonial Club. Victorian women were
supposed to prepare for marriage. These ladies look very serious. It is
obvious that they will be the guardians of virtue in their homes of the
This is about as naughty as any picture could be in a college annual in
1914. This is the Thriller's Club. Victorian women were told to use their
feminine charm to entrap a man. "Look twice before you thrill -- it might be
the wrong one," reads the caption. Notice the two women revealing their
arms. The lass in the rear is especially adventuresome. She places a hand
suggestively beneath her bosom.
This was the 1914 Elizabeth College basketball team. Three on offense.
Three on defense. Their uniforms are hardly suitable for letting the players
make fast moves toward the basket. But Victorian ladies were never supposed
to work up a sweat. That is the Elizabeth College president's home in the
This is what was called the Hobo Band. Notice the goofy hats and the
skirt-like britches. This must have been a way to let Victorian women let
off a little steam. Do you think they really played those instruments?
The three Victorian ladies on this page represented the ideals of
Victorian womanhood. Lucille Glenn on the upper left was Most Accomplished
and Best Allround. Myrtle Vollers on the lower right was Most Conceited. But
the real champion was Harriet Orr. Best Dressed. Biggest Boss. Most
Reliable. Most Influential. Most Respected. Biggest Heart Smasher. Miss Orr
never married. She taught first grade for many years at Dilworth Elementary
School and is remembered as a hard taskmaster.