The History of Girl's Latin School
and Boston Latin Academy Video
Vita Tua Sit Sincera (Let Thy Life Be Sincere)
Boston Latin Academy (BLA) was formerly Girls' Latin School (GLS), the very first college preparatory high school for girls established in the United States.
The founding of the school was the result of activist mothers' desire to provide college preparatory training for their girls. A plan to admit girls to the Public Latin School for boys was formed by an executive committee of the Massachusetts Society for the University Education of Women. Three visionary and driving members of this executive committee, Emily Talbot, Florence Cushing and Annie Fields, deserve much of the credit for the school's founding. Henry Durant, founder and president of Wellesley College, and one of the most brilliant legal minds in Boston, was also instrumental in outlining the legal route for the school to be established.
Several petitions with thousands of signatures were presented to the Boston School Committee in September 1877 asking that the same college preparation offered to boys at the Public Latin School be made available to girls. The board referred the question to its Subcommittee on High Schools. Meanwhile Emily Talbot met with the headmaster of the Public Latin School and asked that her daughter and another girl be admitted. Although Headmaster Moses Merrill was willing to teach the girls, he thought it best to wait for the Boston School Committee's decision. Ultimately, it was recommended that a separate Latin School for girls be established.
Girls' Latin School opened on West Newton Street in Boston's South End on February 12, 1878. The school had only thirty-seven pupils in three classes. The first thirty-seven students were divided according to aptitude into the Sixth, Fifth and Third classes. The six students in the first graduating class in 1880 were Alice M. Mills, Charlotte W. Rogers, Vida D. Scudder, Mary L. Mason, Alice S. Rollins and Miriam S. Witherspoon; all six were accepted to Smith College.
By the time GLS celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1903, it had achieved the reputation as one of the finest college preparatory schools in the United States. The number of students continued to grow each year as a result of its academic achievements.
When the number of students exceeded 350 in 1898, the school committee moved the first four classes to a building in Copley Square vacated by the Chauncy Hall School, while the fifth and sixth remained in the old building. In 1907, Girls' Latin School moved into a brand new building, shared with the Normal School, located on Huntington Avenue in the Fenway.
The school remained in the Fenway until 1955, when Teachers' College (formerly the Normal School) expanded, forcing Girls' Latin School to relocate to the former Dorchester High School for Girls building located in Codman Square. In 1971, the School Committee recognized a new state law which ended sex discrimination in the two Latin Schools. This legislation was known as Massachusetts Law Chapter 622 of the Acts of 1971. In 1972, boys were admitted for the first time to Girls Latin School. The school name was changed in 1975, and the first graduating class of Boston Latin Academy matriculated in 1977.
In 1981, Latin Academy moved back into the Fenway area, this time to Ipswich Street across from Fenway Park. It remained there until the summer of 1991 when it moved again, this time to its present location in the former Boston Technical High School, located on Townsend Street in Dorchester. Just under 1800 students attend Boston Latin Academy today.