Date of Award

Spring 2009

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Lucy Salyer


University of New Hampshire, May, 2009 In 1879, two very different types of boarding schools opened their doors: the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, headed by Army Captain Richard Henry Pratt, and the Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies, founded by evangelist D. L. Moody. While Captain Pratt was dedicated to the assimilation and acculturation of Native children into the dominant culture, D. L. Moody was determined to offer affordable education to financially disadvantaged young women. In the fall of 1880 the Seminary welcomed sixteen Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek students, and, in 1881, the newly opened Mount Hermon Boys' School accepted four Native American young men. Thus began an educational relationship with Indian Country that has survived for 130 years.

This study begins with an overview of the history of American Indian education, followed by a discussion of the life of D. L. Moody, emphasizing his educational goals, then draws upon the narratives of American Indian and Alaskan Native students to argue that the egalitarian and supportive environment of the Northfield Schools provided the tools that helped attendees to bridge Native and mainstream cultures, rather than trapping them between the two. Using archival resources and interviews, this work personalizes the experiences of a few young men and women who attended Moody's schools. Moreover, this study begins the exploration into the under-researched area of private boarding schools as an alternative to the federally supported system.