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Changes to Female Education Pioneered by Women in 19th Century America: Background information when reading The Illness Lesson

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The Illness Lesson

by Clare Beams

The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams X
The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams
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  • Published:
    Feb 2020, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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About this Book

Changes to Female Education Pioneered by Women in 19th Century America

This article relates to The Illness Lesson

Portrait of Emma Willard The plot of The Illness Lesson revolves around the establishment of a Massachusetts school for girls in 1871 by a man with ideas about female education that are progressive and experimental for this era. The protagonist's father Samuel Hood believes that his teenage students should be offered the same curriculum as their male peers, including the study of biology, philosophy and literature. Schools that catered to girls/young women in the 19th century were often essentially finishing schools, where students were offered largely moral and domestic instruction (such as sewing and childcare). However, education opportunities for women were expanded through schools like Georgia Female College (1836), Mount Holyoke Seminary (1837) and Elmira Female College (1855), among others, many of which were founded and operated by women themselves.

The evolution of beliefs about the education of girls and women was aligned with the emergence of the first-wave feminist movement and the work of ...

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