A single issue of The Casket, the student literary magazine of the Chowan Female Collegiate Institute (later Chowan University) is now online at DigitalNC. The issue, which dates from March 1854, is an interesting window into the minds of young, educated women during the mid-Nineteenth Century.
The writings within explore topics like religion and the home, but are especially remarkable for supporting views that seem decidedly modern about women. For example, a piece written by one E. Lee attacks the viewpoint that women are incapable of mathematical thinking and closes with the following proclamation: “Henceforth, then, let it be acknowledged not only that Woman has a fibre more in the heart than man, but that she has also as many cells in the brain” (page 6). Another column by the same author criticizes the existing historical and literary canon for ignoring the achievements of women in both fact and fiction. “The world’s history, from the most remote period, furnishes a record of the noble deeds and attainments of man [emphasis in original]…,” she writes, then asking, “But whither shall we look for an account of woman’s deeds? As a sword in its sheath, they are concealed” (page 7-8).