Asheborough Female Academy

Written By North Carolina History Project

Much scholarly attention has been given to Alexander Murphy’s visions for public education in antebellum North Carolina and to the common school system in mid-nineteenth-century North Carolina; however, private schools existed in the period, too.  One such school was the Asheborough Female Academy.  

A leading statesman during the antebellum era and a Unionist during the Civil War, Jonathan Worth played an instrumental role in starting the Asheborough Female Academy in 1839.  The father of five girls, Worth wanted his children to be educated, so he became an advocate for female education.  Although located in Asheboro, the school acquired a regional reputation, for advertisements appeared throughout the Piedmont region in North and South Carolina.  Families from throughout the region sent their daughters to Asheboro to receive an education.  Asheboro families boarded the students, and the Worth family, in particular, boarded six students; the school lacked a dormitory.

War exigencies closed the academy and educators hoped to start enrolling students at the war’s end.  The school, however, never opened its doors for enrollment again.