Waco Female College

By: Mary M. Standifer

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: August 1, 1995

Waco Female College was chartered on February 11, 1860, as a consolidation of Waco Female Seminary and Waco Female Academy. Although it was under the supervision of the Methodist Church, the college was to be nonsectarian. As early as April 1856 the local Baptist preacher noted that "the Methodists are now getting subscriptions to build a Female College and noble efforts are being made." It may be that one or both of the two constituent schools named in the charter never actually materialized. The college, or the school that was the forerunner of the college, opened in September 1857. By the fall of 1858 the school was advertising itself under the name Waco Female College. The institution may have gone through a transitional phase under the charter granted on February 16, 1858, of Waco Union Female Institute. This possibility is suggested by the word "union" in the name of the institute, and by the fact that a historian of Texas Methodism refers once to the college as "Waco Female Institute." The college, or its predecessor, was originally presided over by Franklin C. Wilkes, the local Methodist preacher. He was succeeded by Rev. William McKendree Lambdin, Pinckney Downs, and F. P. Maddin, who became the school's first permanent president in 1859. The college erected a substantial main building in 1859–60 on a square that had been reserved for a female college in the original plat. A boarding department was added in 1872, and in 1883 kindergarten and primary departments were added to the preparatory and collegiate departments. Enrollment rose from 126 students in 1883 to 202 in 1893. The college moved to a new 13½-acre site on the outskirts of Waco about 1892 but closed in 1895 as a result of financial difficulties, probably caused by its recent expansion combined with the panic of 1893. Its properties were purchased by Add-Ran Christian University, a forerunner of Texas Christian University. The 1860 charter noted that the school was to be conducted under the auspices of the Texas Western Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In 1869 the institution became an officially designated school of the Central Texas Conference, and by 1876 it was operating under the supervision of the Northwest Texas Conference.

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A Memorial and Biographical History of McLennan, Falls, Bell, and Coryell Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893; rpt., St. Louis: Ingmire, 1984). Macum Phelan, History of Early Methodism in Texas, 1817–1866 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 1924); A History of the Expansion of Methodism in Texas, 1867–1902 (Dallas: Mathis, Van Nort, 1937). John Sleeper and J. C. Hutchins, comps., Waco and McLennan County (Waco: Golledge, 1876; rpt., Waco: Kelley, 1966).


  • Education
  • Defunct Colleges and Universities
  • Religion
  • Methodist
  • Women

Time Periods:

  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction


  • Central Texas
  • Waco

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Mary M. Standifer, “Waco Female College,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 27, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/waco-female-college.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995

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