Go and Teach: Presbyterian Educational Institutions in Utah | Presbyterian Historical Society

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Go and Teach: Presbyterian Educational Institutions in Utah

July 10, 2024
One of the early mission schools, Smithfield, Utah; image from Home Mission Monthly, October 1907 edition [Pearl ID:5512].

The history of denominational mission schools is lengthy and has legs in each U.S. state and in countries across the world — so perhaps it comes as no surprise that before there were Presbyterian churches in Utah, there were Presbyterian classrooms.

In the mid- to late-19th century, a plethora of Presbyterian Mission Schools and other educational institutions began to pop up across the state of Utah. Supported largely through the Presbyterian Church’s Women’s Board of Home Missions, these learning environments were founded in areas where people could not be reached by churches or where public schools were not likely to sprout in the next few years. These mission schools reached their height in the 1890s, when their success began a slow and steady decline resulting from the establishment of a state system of education in 1904.

To offer a bit more perspective, 11 schools were established between 1875 and 1879 alone. When the Presbytery of Utah met in the town of Logan in 1880, they agreed to commission 15 female teachers; three years later, the 11 schools had blossomed into 33 in Utah and branching into Idaho.

As the years passed, additional institutions continued to crop up across the state, including Hungerford Academy in Springville; New Jersey Academy in Logan; Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant; and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Of these and the myriad other mission schools that dotted the Utah countryside, only Westminster and Wasatch remain.

Want to know the histories of each of these schools? Read the full story on the Presbyterian News Service. 

Hungerford Academy, Presbyterian Mission. Springville, Utah, 1906 [Pearl ID:14171].

New Jersey Academy, Logan, Utah, 1877 [Pearl ID:103397].