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Treasures from the Averett Archives: Students and the Averett Brothers in 1883

by Jeremy Groskopf on 2023-11-17T13:00:21-05:00 in Archives | 0 Comments

1883 photo of students and the Averett brothers on the steps

As we prepare to disperse for a brief break for Thanksgiving, please take a moment to enjoy the photo to the right - a look back 140 years into the past when "Averett" was the name of a family, not an institution.

In 1883, Roanoke Female College (as the college was then known) was located on Patton Street, near the current site of the Ruby B. Archie Public Library.  The school was operated at the time by its two longest serving principals: brothers S.W. and J.T. Averett - the two most prominent of the many members of the Averett family for which the University is now named.

This photo was taken at some point that year, and depicts the Averett brothers (S.W. front left, with long beard; J.T. front right with short beard) on the college's front steps.  With them are a group of students - perhaps the resident students, of whom there were approximately forty.

At the time, Roanoke Female College was decidedly a family affair.

  • Three Averett children (Janie, Kate, and Mary - all possibly depicted in the photo) were students in the Preparatory Department.
  • J.T. Averett taught the courses in History, Literature, Ancient Languages, and Philosophy.
  • S.W. Averett taught Modern Languages, Math, and Natural Sciences.
  • Pattie Averett taught Music, Latin, and French.
  • Janie M. Averett was the teacher for Domestic education.

With the exception of physical education and the arts (drawing, painting, and the bulk of the music courses), members of the Averett family taught nearly everything.

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