Private schools for women were scarce in the 1800’s which is why women thought Music Vale was an ideal experience. The pupils of the school came from remote parts such as the Carolinas, Kentucky, Kansas, Nova Scotia, and the West Indies. Women typically heard about the school by word of mouth, letter or advertisement. For a time Salem was considered a thriving cultural center with the influx of students from all over the world.
A student wrote to her Kentucky home, “Strict! You have no idea what Yankee strictness means! There is no shirking the rules!” Parents and guardians were required to furnish the Principal, Oramel Whittlesey with a list of people with whom they wish their children to correspond with. Visitors were required to bring a letter to the principal before seeing the students. The students were also expected to attend church services regularly.
On Saturdays the students spent their free time going on afternoon excursions in the colored wagons, The Bluebird and The Robin to New London’s harbor and John Winthrop’s famous old mill. They also visited the historic fort in Saybrook and influential people’s homes in Norwich, Connecticut.
The students also spent their free time writing. The Gleaner of the Vale was the school newspaper, written entirely by the student body of women. They also wrote stories about their fanciful adventures to the hills, dales, and vales of
Salem. Students described with youthful imagination locations were fairies and witches danced throughout Salem.
Graduates of Music Vale Seminary were held in high regard often sought out to play concerts for others. Many students continued on to become teachers and instructors of music in their own communities.