Leading the Way: Amy Morris Homans and the Beginnings of Professional Education for Women

Leading the Way: Amy Morris Homans and the Beginnings of Professional Education for Women

Leading the Way: Amy Morris Homans and the Beginnings of Professional Education for Women

Leading the Way: Amy Morris Homans and the Beginnings of Professional Education for Women

Synopsis

"Spears has given readers an important study of Amy Morris Homans, a pioneer of rigorous physical education for women's bodies. Homans cofounded one of the first training academies for physical education teachers, the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics (BNSG), and lobbied for the introduction of the Swedish-style of gymnastics into public schools. She later arranged the merger of BNSG with Wellesley College, and promoted the formation of local, state, and national organizations of women physical educators. Homans had destroyed many of her papers and letters, wishing her contributions to speak for themselves. Spears creatively weaves student memories with material from BNSG and Wellesley to put together a description of Homans's roles. Homans was not the only pioneer, but she in many ways typified the movement, and commanded attention by her personal style and the quality of her progams and students. An excellent introduction to the history of American programs for the physical education of women. College and university libraries." - Choice

Excerpt

Amy Morris Homans' remarkable career in the education of women began in 1889 when she became the director of the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics (BNSG) and ended in the 1920s, well after she had retired as professor emeritus from Wellesley College. At a time when many physicians and other authorities still questioned exercise and higher education for women, Homans and her employer and friend, Mrs. Mary Hemenway, joined the social reformers who believed that exercise could better the lives of children and, therefore, future generations. Seeking to improve the health and vigor of Boston's girls and boys, these two women persuaded the Boston School Committee to require Swedish gymnastics in the public schools. To supply gymnastics teachers, Hemenway established the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics and named Homans the director. Then 40 years old and an experienced teacher and administrator, Homans saw beyond the immediate, local situation in Boston and envisioned, pursued, and achieved a profession of physical education for women.

Beginning with a two-year normal school and two faculty members in Boston, twenty years later Homans became the director of the Department of Hygiene and Physical Education at Wellesley College. At Wellesley, with fourteen faculty and staff members, she conducted an undergraduate program of exercise, sport, and dance, and initiated a graduate program in physical education. At a time when few women held faculty or administrative appointments in higher education, she educated . . .

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