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Women Who Taught

Women Who Taught: Perspectives on the History of Women and Teaching

Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 301
  • Book Info
    Women Who Taught
    Book Description:

    In an era when women are moving into so many areas of the labour force, we all remember some of the first working women we ever encountered: 'women teachers,' as they were too often known. The impact of women on education has been enourmous throughout the English-speaking world. It has also been ignored, for the most part, by mainstream historians of education. Alison Prentice and Marjorie R. Theobald have addressed this omission by bringing together a wide range of essays by feminist historians on the role of women in education at all levels, in Canada, Australia, Britain, and the United States.

    All the essays were ground-breaking when first published. Among the subjects they explore are the experience of women in private, or domestic, schooling and the rigours of teaching as single women in remote areas. Other essays discuss the impact on women's working schools in the nineteenth century; the growth of professional teachers' organizations; and the blurring of public and private in the lives of twentieth-century teachers.

    The editors provide an introduction that traces the growth of the emerging field of the history of women in teaching and identifies new directions currently developing. A bibliography offers further resources.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8357-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Alison Prentice and Marjorie R. Theobald
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. The Historiography of Women Teachers: A Retrospect
    (pp. 3-34)
    Alison Prentice and Majorie R. Theobald

    ‘Woman teacher’ is a phrase that still has evocative power. In an era when the spotlight has been focused on the position of women in the labour force generally, we have had cause to ponder the case of the woman teacher. Who are the women who teach and what is their status in the profession? Students of contemporary education have come to recognize that sexual stereotyping and gendered occupational structures have profoundly affected and continue to affect the position of women teachers at all levels.¹ At the same time, historians interested in the status of women in education have been...

  6. Women Teaching in the Private Sphere

    • Schoolmistresses amd Headmistresses: Elites and Education in Nineteenth–Century England
      (pp. 37-70)
      Joyce Senders Pedersen

      Ladies who kept private schools attended by young ladies are familiar figures in Regency and Victorian novels: ridiculous ladies, such as Miss Pinkerton, who kept a rather elegant establishment inVanity Fair;sensible ladies like Mrs Goddard, whose more modest school was attended by Jane Austen’sEmma;scheming ladies such as Mrs Kirkpatrick, who set her cap for Molly Gibson’s father in Mrs Gaskell’sWives and Daughters.Memorable mostly for their personal quirks, their qualities of character, these ladies all fit comfortably in the framework of the domestic drama.

      Accounts of real-life ladies who kept fashionable private schools in the...

    • ‘Mere Accomplishments’? Melbourne’s Early Ladies’ Schools Reconsidered
      (pp. 71-91)
      Marjorie R. Theobald

      Orthodoxy locates the beginnings of worthwhile secondary and higher education for English women in the establishment of the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution in 1843, and the people and institutions associated with this reform movement have been well documented.¹ Under the auspices of Christian socialist Professor R.D. Maurice and other lecturers at King’s College, the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution became Queen’s College which provided a model for the new high schools for girls which quickly followed.² Foremost among these were Frances Buss’s North London Collegiate School and Dorothea Beale’s Cheltenham Ladies’ College, both founded in the 1850s.³ The sisters Emily Shirreff and Maria...

    • ‘The poor widow, the ignoramus and the humbug’: An Examination of Rhetoric and Reality in Victoria’s 1905 Act for the Registration of Teachers and Schools
      (pp. 92-112)
      Ailsa G. Thomson Zainu’ddin

      In 1906 the establishment in Victoria of a Registration Board brought into effect the Act to provide for the Registration of Teachers and Schools. Registration, although not quite in the form finally enacted, had been advocated for over a decade by members of the Independent Association of Secondary Teachers of Victoria, representing self-styled public schools on the English model and large private schools. It had been opposed by Catholic authorities resisting government intrusion into the non-aided educational system they established after the passing of the 1872 Elementary Education Act. It was feared by proprietors of smaller schools as a threat...

  7. Women Teaching in the Public Sphere

    • ‘Daughters into Teachers’: Educational and Demographic Influences on the Transformation of Teaching into ‘Women’s Work’ in America
      (pp. 115-135)
      Geraldine Jonçich Clifford

      ‘The old prejudice against remunerative labor for women has not wholly died out,’ lamented Miss Whitney of the Vassar College faculty, in 1882, ‘and in many families the daughters go home, after their school-days are over, to live parasitic lives upon busy fathers and mothers; giving a little domestic assistance, perhaps, but, upon the whole, filling no really empty place and doing no essential duties.’¹ Some daughters did find an empty place and essential duties but still went home without satisfaction. One such was Isabella D. Godding, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary class of 1857 and teacher at Girls’ High School...

    • Teachers’ Work: Changing Patterns and Perceptions in the Emerging School Systems of Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century Central Canada
      (pp. 136-159)
      Marta Danylewycz and Alison Prentice

      The contract of Miss Ellen McGuire, dated 1 June 1880, spelled out government teachers’ duties as they were understood at that time in the province of Quebec. As mistress of District School No. 3 in the township of Lowe, she agreed to

      exercise an efficient supervision over the pupils attending the school; to teach such subjects as are authorized and to make use only of duly approved school books; to fill up all blank forms which may be sent her by the Department of Public Instruction, the Inspectors or Commissioners; to keep all school registers required; to preserve amongst the...

    • Mary Helena Stark: The Troubles of a Nineteenth-Century State School Teacher
      (pp. 160-181)
      R.J.W. Selleck

      A witness giving evidence to a Royal Commission on Education in Melbourne in August 1882:

      Will you state to the Commission what your opinion is as to females having the charge of schools? – I have had no experience of it, but I think myself that a female is not competent to manage a school beyond a certain number of children, and a certain age of children.

      What do you think should be the maximum age in that case? – The ladies in America profess to be able to manage boys of any age.

      As they do not happen to administer the...

    • Feminists in Teaching: The National Union of Women Teachers, 1920–1945
      (pp. 182-201)
      Sarah King

      In 1919, the year after the vote had at last been granted to some women, the president of the National Federation of Women Teachers wrote of the ‘all conquering women’s movement’¹ : ‘The NFWT is proud to have taken and be taking its very definite part in such a movement. Its existence has been ignored and its members have been maligned but its influence spreads and its powers grow.’² Yet Miss Dawson reminded members of her union that the fight was far from over. She called upon them: ‘For the sake of the girl who is with us now and...

    • ‘I am ready to be of assistance when I can’: Lottie Bowron and Rural Women Teachers in British Columbia
      (pp. 202-230)
      J. Donald Wilson

      On the morning of 14 November 1928 officials of the Cowichan Lake Logging Company came upon a grisly scene in the teacher’s residence at Nixon Creek, an isolated logging camp on the southwest shore of Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island. Upon entering the three-roomed dwelling they were horrified to find the body of the teacher, twentyyear-old Mabel Jones, stretched out on her back on the floor in the sitting room with a .22 rifle beside her. The post-mortem report coldly described ‘a bullet wound of entrance on the front of the chest just to the left of the mid-line with...

  8. Women Teaching in Higher Education

    • Here Was Fellowship: A Social Portrait of Academic Women at Wellesely College 1895–1920
      (pp. 233-257)
      Patricia A. Palmieri

      In 1929 historian Willystine Goodsell noted the meager professional opportunities available to academic women. Only in the women’s colleges did women professors of all ranks considerably outnumber the men. Goodsell concluded, In the realm of higher education this is their one happy hunting ground and they make good use of it.’¹ One such golden arena was the academic community of Wellesley College 1895–1920. Wellesley was the only women’s college which from its founding in 1875 was committed to women presidents and a totally female professoriate. In the Progressive era this professoriate was a stellar cast: it included Katharine Coman,...

    • Scholarly Passion: Two Persons Who Caught It
      (pp. 258-284)
      Alison Prentice

      This paper is dedicated to the memory ofMarta Danylewycz, who was a passionate scholar, a committed teacher, and a much-loved friend.

      Academic women are increasingly aware of two facts. One is the fact of our collectively tenuous position in the world of higher education, a position that, in spite of the contemporary women’s movement, has in many respects improved only very slowly.¹ A second is the fact of a long history of struggle, by our scholarly-minded foremothers, to gain even the relatively feeble foothold that we together enjoy as women instructors in contemporary institutions of higher learning. The tale differs...

  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 285-301)
    Susan Gelman