The Young Ladies Class Book: Concepts Of True Womanhood

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Throughout the Colonial Period of America, limitations surrounded education for women, reducing it to biblical teaching that lasted only through the primary years. As Enlightenment ideas settled in the country, the concepts of freedom, liberty, and equality pervaded revolutionary thought. In addition to shaping many nation-forming documents of the time, it engrained these Enlightenment concepts into the American identity. This identity led many minority groups in the new nation to question their place in this society and argue for rights previously denied to them. As women played an increasing role in the Industrial Revolution, they increasingly felt that they deserved rights previously reserved for men, like education. During the 1830s in …show more content…
Ebenezer Bailey, the former Principal of the Young Ladies’ High School in Boston, published the textbook for use at his school. As the title suggests, the textbook includes only works of prose and poetry formatted as lessons on how to be a well-learned lady. Out of these different works, a nearly an even split between prose and poetry makes up the textbook. Concerning authorship of the included pieces, men wrote 119 of the works, women wrote 35, and the remaining 33 are not attributed to a specific author. William Cullen Bryant (9 works), Felicia Hemans (9 works), Charles Sprague (6 works), J. G. Percival (5 works), and John Pierpont (5 works) provide the most works for the textbook. The subjects and content of the work in this textbook tell us about the shift from Republican Motherhood to True Womanhood and we can see this by looking at the first few …show more content…
This statement shows us that a belief prevailed among some that a mother bore the responsibility to serve as the primary educator of her children. A piece of prose entitled “Education of Females” comprises the second lesson and argues for the education of women on the grounds that they should be able to carry on intellectual conversations with men and by allowing them this, it would “gladden the listless hours of dependency.” This coincides with the idea that women should be domestic and submissive to men and that giving them something intellectual to discuss would help them become complacent with their lots in life. The sixth and seventh lessons go hand-in-hand. The sixth lesson describes the schooling experience of both a young man and woman. The young man learns politics, philosophy, science, and oratory; the young woman learns music, art, languages, and grace. The seventh lesson argues that science is cold and takes the beauty out of life. This clear split in curricula shows us the differing expectations of men and women during that time. Society expected women to be soft, beautiful, and refined—to display this True Womanhood. Society expected men, however, to be knowledgeable in serious matters of the politic and to immerse themselves in hard and cold topics, such as

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