Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States

By Linda Eisenmann | Go to book overview

Y

Yezierska, Anzia. A novelist and short story writer, Anzia Yezierska (ca. 1890– 1970) is widely acclaimed for her role in the development of Jewish American immigrant literature and feminism. Her writings focus on the struggle of the female to gain autonomy both within her own family and in larger American society. Following the pattern of Yezierska's own experience, her protagonists fight to become Americanized and to break through religious rules and social and economic barriers to create a self-determined life.

Daughter of an impoverished Talmudic scholar, Yezierska was born in Plinsk in Russian Poland and immigrated in the 1890s with her parents to New York. Quite early, she determined that the way to become like other Americans was through education, and she sought ways to learn whenever possible. When lack of both finances and family support made formal schooling unavailable to her, Yezierska, according to her own accounts, used money she earned at various menial tasks to pay a janitor's child to teach her English. Clashes with her father led Yezierska to leave home for the Clara de Hirsch Home for Working Girls. She attended night school to improve her English and eventually received a scholarship that allowed her to attend Columbia University Teachers College from 1901 to 1905 and gain certification to teach domestic science.

Yezierska's first marriage ended in annulment after only a few months, and in her subsequent marriage to Arnold Levitas in 1911, she insisted on a religious ceremony only, not a legally binding civil one. The marriage produced a daughter, Louise, in 1912. After only a few years of marriage, Yezierska found domestic life oppressive and left Levitas. Soon thereafter, unable to support herself and a child, she left her daughter in his care.

Although she was not well suited for teaching,* disliking both the profession itself and her subject, Yezierska determined to pursue a teaching career because it was acceptable for women. Finding herself in the unsatisfactory position of substitute teacher, however, she went to educator John Dewey in 1917 to enlist

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Historical Dictionary of Women's Education in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction xi
  • A 1
  • B 29
  • C 65
  • D 111
  • E 136
  • F 146
  • G 163
  • H 188
  • I 217
  • J 225
  • K 229
  • L 232
  • M 256
  • N 287
  • O 312
  • P 317
  • Q 331
  • R 336
  • S 349
  • T 408
  • U 443
  • V 446
  • W 456
  • Y 494
  • Appendix: Timeline of Women's Educational History in the United States 503
  • Selected Bibliography 507
  • Index 511
  • About the Editor and Contributors 525
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