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Archive Visit 15: Harp Lessons Cost Extra

Cassie Bendel

Posted on February 07 2021

Archive Visit 15: Harp Lessons Cost Extra

What did it cost to attend the Mount in the early days? The very, very early days? The photo below outlines student tuition as advertised in an April, 1848 edition of the Pittsburgh Catholic. In addition to laying out all involved costs, the ad promises that the school will “embrace all the usual requisite accomplishments of female education”.

Looking at this ad today, it seems funny to think such small dollar amounts would have paid for one semester, but a quick Internet search helps put it into perspective. Inflation of the US Dollar since 1848 has grown by more than 3,000%, so it’s easy to see why a private education was still costly.

If you were a student that first full year at the Mount, room, board, light and fuel for that light would have set you back about $1,600 per semester. Electives, of course, cost a bit extra. The average cost for a course in art or music was between $5 and $10 or about $150 and $320 in today’s money. By far, the most expensive instrument to choose was the harp, which would have cost a pricey $16 or $527 per quarter.

On the second page of this typewritten copy of the ad, it also noted, “Letters written or received by the Young Ladies are examined by the Directress, previously to their delivery. The Pupils are not allowed to visit their Parents oftener than once a month.”

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