Uncommon Common Women: Ordinary Lives of the West

By Anne M. Butler; Ona Siporin | Go to book overview

4
Women of the Schoolhouse

Americans recognize the schoolteacher as one of the standard female characters of the American West. Along with that recognition comes some fanciful imagery. Winslow Homer captured what Americans want to believe of the western teacher in his 1871 painting, "The Country School." Homer saw gentility and beauty in his teacher. His thoughts on the role of the teacher in the West reflect rather closely those of most Americans.

In the minds of Americans, a battalion of teachers, all young, single, beautiful, and white, marched into the West as the conduits of civilization. The western schoolteacher elicits a cherished and untainted memory for Americans; she represents one of the nation's historical heroines. Perhaps that affection stems from the fact that the young schoolteacher, who often married rather quickly, fulfilled two socially acceptable womanly roles--that of

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Uncommon Common Women: Ordinary Lives of the West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface viii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Women of the Prairies 5
  • 2 - Immigrant Women 35
  • 3 - Indigenous Women 53
  • 4 - Women of the Schoolhouse 67
  • 5 - Women of the Criminal World 89
  • 6 - Women of the Fort and the City 105
  • 7 - Work, Grief, and Joy 111
  • Suggested Readings 127
  • Photo Credits 133
  • About the Authors 138
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