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Educating Anne Brownlow

Annie was the only one of her sisters to attend a Female Seminary which I describe in this post. Her obituaries all mention how educated she was and Leadville newspapers listed her among the attendees of the many intellectual gatherings in town during 1881-1892.

I have discovered that her education was not only from the seminary, but also the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle. She is listed as one of 3,439 graduates in 1891.

The Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua is a lake in the state of New York. It is also the name of the Chautauqua Institution which was founded in 1874 on the shores of Lake Chautauqua. The purpose of the institute was to provide education to Sunday School teachers. It was immediately successful and soon added classes about art, music, physical education, and academic subjects. Although the founders were Methodists, the Institution has always been ecumenical. Ministers and congregants from other Protestant denominations were welcomed from the beginning and the yearly program now includes adherents to many religions and philosophies.

In 1878, the Institution started the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle,  a four-year correspondence course which aimed at bringing college education to people who couldn’t attend college. The founders hoped that the circle would provide people with an alternative to “drinking, gambling, dancing, and theater-going.” They also encouraged the formation of local “reading circles” where students could meet, exchange ideas, and share the costs of the learning materials.

By 1880, “daughter Chautauquas” had started forming. Some were traveling tent gatherings, others had permanent buildings. The Chautauqua Movement tapped into a growing demand for education and “self-improvement.”  The Movement spread over the United States and around the world. “Education, once the peculiar privilege of the few, must in our best earthly estate become the valued possession of the many,” according to Bishop John Heyl Vincent, a co-founder of the Chautauqua Institution.

Annie’s Reading

In order to graduate, Annie had to have completed four years of reading and taken an exam. Her reading was:

1887-1891 Reading List

From: From: Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle Book List 1878-2017,


Many of these books are still available. Amazon has some reprints, some even as kindle editions. “Classic French Course in English” is available as a free kindle download from Amazon. It is tough reading as Rev. Wilkinson’s prose is very ….19th century :). Others can be found at the Gutenberg Project.

I will have to dig further to see if I can find any indication that she attended the graduation ceremony at the Chautauqua Institute.