Ulrike Eleonora Pihl returned from England in 1863, where she had received her pedagogical training. She started to work as a governess with a family in Western Norway, but came back to Bergen in 1865. In April that same year she advertised in the local paper for pupils for her institute for girls.
Ulrike Pihl has been given great honour for her pedagogic work. She did in fact continue her aunt’s institute for girls. Henriette Meyer had already been running the institute for seventeen years.
Henriette Meyer started her small girls’ institute in April 1848. Meyer may have received a good education in Copenhagen, or even in Christianfeld Institute in southern Jylland in Denmark. She married very young to shipbroker Jacob Meyer, and had two sons. Aged 36 she advertised her school in the newspaper. From the advertisement, we see that in Henriettes opinion, young girls should be taught needlework, writing, drawing, Norwegian reading and basic German and French.
In its early years Madame Meyer’s school was kept in her home. The children were seated at a long table in her living room, as was the case with most small private schools at the time. However, Meyer’s school soon got a good reputation, and she decided to expand. She started using more rooms, and she hired teachers.
Ulrike Pihl was a woman of great knowledge and ambition, and under her visionary management the school prospered.
Ulrike Pihl took over an already well functioning school, with many pupils in several classes. Ulrike Pihl was a woman of great knowledge and ambition, and under her visionary management the school prospered. The teaching became more methodical as well as more extensive. In Pihl’s opinion the girls’ education should not be second to the boys’ education – the girls were also to meet society some day. The radical and open-minded Pihl even started to teach the girls gymnastics.
Ulrike Pihl’s Institute has prospered and expanded further over the years. After its starting years at Nordnes near Nykirken, the institute had to move to larger premises several times. The last school building in the center of Bergen is from 1906. It was turned over to the University of Bergen in 1988, which named it Ulrike Pihl’s House.
The institute is now a high school in the suburb Åsane, where it also offers advanced sports education to the students, in the spirit of Ulrike Pihl. The school’s students are of both sexes today.