Education of Females in the 19th Century


Selections below are about 19th century schooling for girls and women, and about 19th century views on appropriate education of females.



For tips on reading online and downloading, see the note at the bottom of this page.

For more works on girls’ and women’s education, see: Section 376 Education of women in Education, Public Administration & Social Issues



“College Life for Women”

Sunday magazine Volume 25, page 99, 1896

London: Strahan
Aitken, EdithGo to Article


“Woman in College”

Harvard Magazine Volume 6: page 353, 1860

Boston: Harvard University
Alden, Leonard CaseGo to Article


“Educated to Death: a Mother’s Story”

Popular Science Monthly Volume 6: pp 57-60, 1874

NY: Appleton
AnonymousGo to Article


Report on the Organization of a High School for Girls, and Seminary for Female Teachers, and Seminaries for the Education of Teachers for the Primary Schools

Philadelphia: 1840
Bache, Alex Go to Book

The first document is a plan proposed to the Board of Controllers of the Public Schools in Philadelphia for the high school and seminary mentioned in the title. The plan for the girls’ high school includes:

-(Requirements for) Admission
Course of Study (includes justification)
-Discipline
-Exercise, etc.
-Building

For the proposed Seminary for Female Teachers, the plan covers similar topics to those above. There is also a discussion of the proposed ‘organization’ or administration of both institutions.

The document entitled “Seminaries for the Education of Teachers for the Primary Schools” seems to be a description of various existing seminaries in Europe.

“Self-help among American College Girls”

Nineteenth Century Volume 39: page 502, 1896

London: King
Banks, Elizabeth L.Go to Article

By “Self-help” the author refers to the means by which girls earn money to pay for college.

The Condition of Women in the United States; a Traveler’s Notes

Boston: Roberts 1895
Bentzon, ThereseGo to Book

Bentzon, better known as Madame Blanc, was a popular French author of both fiction and non-fiction.
Chapter headings are:

Biographical Sketch of Madame Blanc
1. First Impressions. In Chicago. Women’s Clubs
2. Boston
3. Colleges for Women. Co-Education. University Extension
4. A Woman’s Prison. Homes and Clubs for Working Women. Domestic Life. Industrial Schools. Agricultural Institute at Hampton: Negroes and Negresses

A Visit to some American Schools and Colleges

London: Macmillan 1867
Blake, Sophia Jex Go to Book

Chapter headings are:

1. Boston to Oberlin
2. Oberlin
3. Hillsdale
4. St. Louis
5. Antioch
6. The Public Schools of America
7. The Public Schools, continued. – Salem Normal School
8. And Last

The Education of American Girls; Considered in a Series of Essays

NY: Putnam 1874
Brackett, Anna Callender, ed.Go to Book

Each essay was contributed by a different author:

1. Education of American Girls
2. A Mother’s Thought
3. The Other Side
4. Effects of Mental Growth
5. Girls and Women in England and America
6. Mental Action and Physical Health
7. Michigan University
8. Mount Holyoke Seminary
9. Oberlin college
10. Vassar College
11. Antioch College
12. Letter from a German Woman
13. Review of “Sex in Education”
Appendix

Sex in Education; or, A Fair Chance for Girls

Boston: Osgood 1875
Clarke, Edward H., M.D.Go to Book

The first edition of this book was released in 1873 and stimulated a discussion in periodicals in 1873 and 1874. See the collection of essays in the volume edited by Julia Ward Howe, found on this page.

American Female Education: What? And By Whom? A Lecture

Boston: Jewett 1855
Cushman, Robert WoodwardGo to Book

Cushman was the Principal of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ School, a French and English Protestant boarding school, at the time he delivered this lecture before the Columbian Association of Teachers at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

An Address on Female Education, delivered Nov. 21, 1827 at the Opening of the Edifice Erected for the Accommodation of the Hartford Female Seminary

Hartford: Huntington 1828
Gallaudet, Thomas HopkinsGo to Book

Gallaudet was a pioneer in the education of the deaf.

Sex and Education; A Reply to Dr. E. H. Clarke’s “Sex in Education”

Boston, Roberts 1874
Howe, Julia Ward, ed.Go to Book

This volume is a collection of essays by the writers below, responding to the book by Dr. Edward H Clark entitled Sex in Education; or, A Fair Chance for Girls, which can be found on this page.
Chapter headings are:

1. Julia Ward Howe
2. Thomas Wentworth Higginson
3. Mrs. Horace Mann
4. Ada Shepard Badger
5. Caroline H. Dall
6. By C.
7. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
8. From “Boston Daily Advertiser”
9. Mercy B. Jackson
10. Professor Bascom
11. Abby W. May
12. Maria A. Elmore
13. A. C. Garland

Testimony from Colleges
– Vassar College
– Antioch College
– Michigan University
– Lombard University
– Oberlin College

What Shall we Do With our Daughters? Superfluous Women, and other Lectures

Boston: Lee and Shepard 1883
Livermore, Mary AshtonGo to Book

Chapter headings are:

1. Changed Conditions of Woman’s Life
2. Physical Education
3. Higher Education
4. Need of Practical Training
5. Industrial and Technical Training
6. Moral and Religious Training
7. Superfluous Women

Letters to School Girls

Cincinnati: Swormstedt & Poe 1853
Mathews, Joseph (Rev.)Go to Book

A set of essays by the principal of the Oakland Female Seminary in Hillsboro, Ohio. Titles are:

-Study
-Reading
-Lies
-Conversation
-Manners
-Religion
-Prayer
-The Sabbath
-Eighth Commandment
-Dancing
-Health
-Temperance
-Missions
-Vulgarisms
-Marriage
-Duties to Parents
-Temper
-Spoiled Girls
-Teaching
-Valedictory
-Female Education

Liberal Education of Women: The Demand and the Method. Current Thoughts in America and England

NY: Barnes 1873
Orton, James, ed. Go to Book

The book contains articles from the U.S. and England that touched on liberal or collegiate education of females, and were considered to offer “leading thoughts upon the method of meeting this demand of the age.” The 36 chapters include published articles from magazines and student publications, and reports by University administrators.

Address on the Education of Woman, delivered at the Anniversary of the Pittsfield Young Ladies’ Institute

Albany: Gray, Sprague 1852
Palmer, Ray Go to Book


“The Higher Education of Women in the Ohio Valley Previous to 1840”

Ohio History XXV, January 1916, Number 1, 1-22.

Columbus: Ohio Historical Society
Sherzer, JaneGo to Article

The author says the region covered by this paper “includes Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia; Southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois; and Kentucky and Tennessee. Her method is to review, one after the other, specific schools for girls that were established in the early nineteenth century throughout the region. The earliest school in Ohio for girls was the Cincinnati Lancaster Seminary established in 1814 for 1400 pupils. Boys and girls were taught in the same classes, with boys on one side of the room and girls on the other. Also mentioned are two early boarding schools for girls in Cincinnati, apparently established in the 1830s.

“History of the Michigan Female College, and a Sketch of the Life and Work of Miss A. C. Rogers”

Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan Vol 6, 1884, 284-290

Lansing: W. S. George
Smith, Eliza C.Go to Article

This paper, authored by an alumnus of the subject college, describes the efforts by Miss A. C. Rogers and others, beginning in 1855, to establish a university for women in Lansing. The ‘college’ was begun in the face of great adversity and indifference, and operated for about 15 years, apparently without achieving recognition as a university. A substantial portion of the article consists of a biographical sketch of Miss Rogers.

Thoughts on Female Education

Philadelphia: Clark & Raser 1831
Stith, Mrs. Townshend Go to Book


The College Woman

Baker 1894
Thwing, C: F. Go to Book
DDC: 376

Discusses problems of woman’s college life, her preparatory work, studies, environment, health and her duties to and influence on the community.
– – A.L.A.Catalog 1904

Contributions towards a bibliography of the Higher Education of Women

Boston: 1897
Trustees of the Public Library in Boston Go to Book

Hundreds of titles of books, periodical articles and addresses from throughout the 19th century are listed here, with complete bibliographic references. While higher education is the main theme, many works also address primary and secondary education. In addition to American titles, there are many from Great Britain, and some from other Commonwealth and western European countries.
Works are listed under the following headings:

1. General and Historical
2. Higher Education in Relation to Health
– This includes physical education and the question of the mental inferiority of women.
3. Coeducation
4. Professional and Scientific Education
– Law
– Medicine
– The Ministry
– Science
5. Post-Graduate Study
6. Occupations and Opportunities for College-Bred Women
7. Colleges and Universities wholly or partly Open to Women
8 Societies for the Education or Advancement of Women
Author Index

For help in finding these 19th century books and periodical articles online, please see Searching for eBooks on this website.



Tips for Reading Online and Downloading

More than half the books on our website at History of the Great Lakes States are hosted by Internet Archive or Open Library. They are sister organizations and use the same online viewer application. In most cases this viewer will give you nearly perfect text if you;

1. switch from the double-page to the single-page view by using the icons in the bottom right corner, and;

2. Keep zooming in until the text snaps into a clear focus.

Using the single-page view allows you to scroll pages down with your mouse wheel.

You can download books from these two sites by clicking on the book name at the top-left corner of the page (in the viewer) to get to the download menu.