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The Education of Women for Wifehood: Coverture, Community, and Consumerism in the Separate Spheres

  • Christine Woyshner


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1 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, trans. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 566.

2 Schwager, SallyEducating Women in America,“ Signs 12 (1987), 337.

3 Ibid., 336. Schwager's article stands as the most thorough synthesis of women's educational history to date, and merits updating and the addition of recent scholarship.

4 Nash, Margaret A.Rethinking Republican Motherhood: Benjamin Rush and the Young Ladies’ Academy of Philadelphia,“ Journal of the Early Republic 17 (Summer 1997), 173. Of course Nash mentions the occasional exception to this rule, such as Thomas Woody, A History of Women's Education in the United States, 2 vols. (New York: Science Press, 1922).

5 Nash, Margaret A.'Cultivating the Powers of Human Beings': Gendered Perspectives on Curricula and Pedagogy in Academies of the New Republic,“ History of Education Quarterly 41 (2001), 242243.

6 Eisenmann, LindaCreating a Framework for Interpreting U.S. Women's Educational History: Lessons from the Historical Lexicography,“ History of Education 30 (2001), 453454.

7 Woyshner, Christine A. and Hao Kuo Tai, BonnieSymposium: The History of Women in Education,“ Harvard Educational Review 64: 4 (1997), v.

8 Donato, Rubén and Lazerson, MarvinNew Directions in American Educational History: Problems and Prospects,“ Educational Researcher 29: 8 (November 2000), 12.

9 Lerner, Gerda The Majority Finds Its Past (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 145, 146, 158.

10 Ibid., 158.

11 Ibid., 162.

12 Kerber, Linda K.Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, and Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History,“ reprinted in History of Women in the United States (New York: K.G. Saur, 1992), 174.

13 Ibid., “Woman's Place: The Rhetoric of Women's History,” 181.

14 Gere, Anne Ruggles Intimate Practices: Literacy and Cultural Work in U.S. Women's Clubs, 1880–1920 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997), 13.

15 Shaw, Stephanie J. What a Woman Ought to Be and to Do: Black Professional Women Workers during the Jim Crow Era (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

16 See for example, Scott, Anne FirorWhat, Then, Is the American: This New Woman?Journal of American History 65: 3 (1978): 679703; Sklar, Kathryn Kish Catharine Beecher: A Study in American Domesticity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973); and Geraldine Jonçich Clifford, “History as Experience: The Uses of Personal-History Documents in the History of Education,” History of Education 7:3 (1978): 183–96.

17 Blackstone, WilliamOn the Principle of the Unity of Husband and Wife,“ reprinted in Women in American Law, Marlene Stein Wortman, ed. (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985), 27.

18 See Cott, Nancy F. Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000).

19 Lasch, Christopher Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged (New York: Basic Books, 1977). Sociologist Richard Sennett anticipated some of Lasch's argument: see his Families Against the City: Middle-Class Homes of Industrial Chicago, 1872–1890 (New York: Vintage Books, 1974).

20 For more on women's culture, see Smith-Rosenberg, CarrollThe Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth Century America,“ Signs 1 (Autumn 1975): 129.

21 The standard sources on maternalism include Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, eds., Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (New York: Routledge, 1993); Molly Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work: Women, Child Welfare, and the State, 1890–1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994); and Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992). Also, see the discussion on the topic in Journal of Women's History 5:2 (Fall 1993).

22 Mitchell, Lucy Sprague Two Lives: The Story of Wesley Claire Mitchell and Myself (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1953). Joyce Antler's biography—relied upon by Rauchway—also delves into the spousal and familial relationship of the Mitchells with much nuance and expertise. Joyce Antler, Lucy Sprague Mitchell: The Making of a Modern Woman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987).

23 Similar arguments have been made in the history of education scholarship because similar issues exist. That is, prescriptive curriculum literature is far more readily available to the historian than are students’ and teachers’ reactions to the prescriptions. Nonetheless, historians of education have made a case for the importance of examining the recommendations. For example, Herbert M. Kliebard discusses the symbolic value of curriculum by arguing that “a proclaimed curriculum is a potent way to validate certain forms of knowledge and belief and, whether or not it is implemented in any substantial way, it can be extraordinary revealing about the values a given society or some segment thereof cherishes.” Kliebard, Forging the American Curriculum: Essays in Curriculum History and Theory (New York: Routledge, 1992), xiv. Also, in her discussion of vocational education programs for young women, Jane Bernard Powers writes that prescriptions are myths that “reflect an idealized state of being and that set standards for attitude and behavior.” Powers, The Girl Question” in Education: Vocational Education for Young Women in the Progressive Era (London: The Falmer Press, 1992), 9.

24 Montalto, Nicholas V. A History of the Intercultural Educational Movement, 1924–1941 (New York: Garland Publishing, 1982). Much more research remains to be undertaken on the variations and interpretations of the intercultural education movement. See recent works by Yoon Pak, “Teaching for Intercultural Understanding in the Social Studies: A Teacher's Perspective in the 1940s” in Christine Woyshner, Joseph Watras, and Margaret Smith Crocco, eds., Social Education in the Twentieth Century: Curriculum and Context for Citizenship (New York: Peter Lang Press, forthcoming).

25 Lerner, The Majority Finds Its Past, 149.

26 Donato and Lazerson, “New Directions in American Educational History,” 12.

27 Beard, Mary RitterThe Nineteenth Century Woman Looking Forward,“ Young Oxford 2, no. 16 (1901): 119–22, as cited in Rauchway.

The Education of Women for Wifehood: Coverture, Community, and Consumerism in the Separate Spheres

  • Christine Woyshner


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