Education for Ladies, 1830-1860: Ideas on Education in Magazines for Women

Education for Ladies, 1830-1860: Ideas on Education in Magazines for Women

Education for Ladies, 1830-1860: Ideas on Education in Magazines for Women

Education for Ladies, 1830-1860: Ideas on Education in Magazines for Women

Excerpt

To seek ideas on education in the magazines for ladies of a century ago may at first seem absurd. Yet tucked away among love stories, "poems" reeking with sentimentality, "cards" of advertisement, news items, "receipts," and book reviews are descriptions of schools, comments on curricula, discussions of the aims of education, and pertinent remarks upon that much debated question of whether woman had a mind capable of thought. In fact, through advertisements, schools for young ladies and at times for young gentlemen were presented to their mothers. Every editor "clipped" or "copied" news and comments about developments in education. Discussions of the aims of education were popular alike both for "fillers" and for editorials. Phases of education were celebrated in poetry. A teacher was even a suitable heroine. The "sphere" of woman and the "proper" education for it provided springboards for innumerable discussions. Education was a vital topic in the magazines for ladies. Mrs. Stephens' Illustrated Monthly Magazine was the only mid-nineteenth century ladies' magazine that has been found which did not present ideas on education to its readers. Because education loomed importantly in the magazines for ladies of a century ago, this study has been made.

In some respects, this study has grown circuitously. At first the plan was to use "education" in the larger sense, the sense in which the editors themselves used it, when they referred to their magazines as "educational projects." The editors, however, presented ideas on such a multiplicity of subjects that it soon became apparent that so broad a conception of the meaning of "education" would result in a social history of the period. Consequently education was limited to a professional usage.

As the connotation of education was narrowed, so the conception . . .

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