History of the Loretto Academy

Nineteenth Century Curriculum

Victorian women playing and singing music
Victorian era women playing instruments and singing

The curriculum in the nineteenth century consisted of typical Victorian female pursuits. Students learned the basics, such as arithmetic, grammar, reading, and spelling in the preparatory grades. At the high-school level students studied more elevated subjects such as rhetoric, physics, analysis of poetry and prose, and ethics. Throughout the grades penmanship, composition, elocution, and physical culture were taught. From the Academy's foundation its curriculum emphasized the arts, and offered lessons in instrumental and vocal music, as well as painting and drawing.

Course Listing
List of courses from an undated catalog.

The Academy was not training its female students to become physicists or professional musicians. The training was aimed at preparing middle-class girls for their roles as wife and mother, with the possibility of a few years of teaching experience before marriage. A well-educated woman in the Victorian era was seen as thoroughly prepared not for a life of scholarship and study, but for the task of preparing their future sons for such a life.


Information based on the thesis The Sisters of Loretto in Las Cruces: The Education and "Americanization" of a Frontier Community, 1870-1943 by Wendy C. Simpson.