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high schools, most of them co-educational. The population of the cities and towns in which these schools are maintained is over ninety-five per cent. of the whole population of the State.
It is not to be understood that this marvelous progress had come without resistance at every step, or had been achieved except in the way that a plant with the growing power in it struggles to light from under the pavement.
We have seen that in the lower schools when girls, in process of time, came to be taught at all, it was out of fitting season, sometimes out of due hours, without the best instructors, with limited range of study, and always with deference to the superior claim of boys. In the endeavor of girls toward the higher education, one is too sadly reminded of the struggles of the plebeians against the patricians in Rome, when positions wrung from usurping hands, were yielded, only to be, to the uttermost, shorn of advantage.
As girls have gained successive opportunities for advanced study, the aim of the opponents has always been to keep those only analogous to, not identical with, those of boys. They have, therefore, been steadily weighted with limiting conditions, as the educational history of Boston serves to illustrate.
We have seen that the experimental high school of 1825 was, in its feebleness, hampered by, if, indeed, it was not founded for the trial of the monitorial system, and was moribund from its inception.
When, a quarter of a century later, the demand for better education for girls again took form, those most active thought it discreet to avoid the controversy of the past, and, as a more feasible measure, a Normal School for teachers was projected, and was established in 1852.
It was soon found that girls fresh from the grammar schools were not fit candidates for normal training. To remedy this difficulty a few additional branches of study were introduced, a slight alteration made in the arrangement of the course, and the name changed to the Girls' High and Normal School. Under this name it continued until 1872, when it was found that the normal element had been absorbed by the high school, and had almost lost its independent, distinctive, and professional character. The two courses where then separated and the normal department was restored to its original condition, for the instruction of young women who intended to become teachers in Boston.
Boston had now, at length, a school for girls, devoted, like that for boys, to general culture, though still without opportunity for full classical training, such as had been freely offered Boston boys for almost two and a half centuries. But to taste intellectually, as well as physically, is to stimulate appetite.
In 1877 a society of 200 thoughtful and influential women, incorporated as the “ Massachusetts Society for the University Education of Women,” supported by men of equal dignity, and prominently associated with educational and kindred movements, petitioned the school committee “ that a course of classical instruction may be offered to girls in the Boston Latin School, as is now offered to boys.”
This petition was reinforced by a similar one from the “ Woman's Educational Association,” which, later, instigated and supported the Harvard examination for women. The trustees of “ Boston University” officially memorialized the school board in the same interest.
The claim was urged by distinguished divines, physicians, educators, presidents of colleges, a founder of a college, statesmen, and by mothers of girls. They argued a public advantage, a public demand, and a public right. They showed that almost every prominent city and town in the State gave to girls in its public high school, which was usually co-educational,—a chance to fit for college ; while the towns that had been annexed to Boston,-Charlestown, Dorchester, Brighton, and West Roxbury, had thereby lost such advantage, which their girls had previously enjoyed. The presidents of co-educational and female colleges testified that while no Boston high school girl was prepared to enter their institutions, they were receiving well-prepared young women from the more liberal West.
The ladies petitioning, called attention to the fact that the colonial law of 1647 required every township of 100 families “to provide for the instruction of youth so far as to fit them for the University," and that in Massachusetts, from that time, there never has been a law passed concerning any public school which has authorized instruction to one sex not equally open to the other ; that nowhere does the word “male" or “boy” occur, but always “ children ” or “youth.”
It appeared that one young woman, daughter of a master, had pursued a three years' course of study in the Latin School, sitting and reciting with the other pupils, and winning the highest esteem for modesty and ability. From this course she had graduated with so solid a foundation of scholarship that at the age of twenty-two she had received the title of “ Doctor of Philosophy” from “ Boston University,” and was the first woman in this country to take such a degree.
The opposition to the granting of the petition was most strongly presented by six distinguished presidents of male colleges and by two Harvard graduates.
President Eliot of Harvard College opposed the admit. tance of girls to the Latin School, saying, “I resist the proposition for the sake of the boys, the girls, and the schools, and in the general interest of American education.”
Hon. Charles F. Adams wrote, “I suppose the experiment of uniting the two sexes in education, at a mature age, is likely to be fully tried. It will go on until some shocking scandals develop the danger.”
President Porter of Yale College thought “boys and girls from the ages of fourteen to eighteen should not recite in the same class-room, nor meet in the same study hall. The natural feelings of rightly trained boys and girls are offended by social intercourse of the sort, so frequent, so free, and so unceremonious. The classical culture of boys and girls, even when it takes both through the same curriculum, should not be imparted by precisely the same methods nor with the same controlling aims. I hold that these should differ in some important respects for each.”
President Bartlett of Dartmouth College said : “ Girls cannot endure the hard, unintermitting, and long-continued strain to which boys are subjected. ... Were girls admitted to the Latin School I should have no fear that they would not for the time hold their own with the boys, spurred on as they would be by their own native excitableness, their ambition, and the stimulus of public comparison. I should rather fear their success with its penalty of shortened lives or permanently deranged constitutions. You must, in the long run, overtask and injure the girls, or you must sacrifice the present and legitimate standard of a school for boys. ... It should be added that almost every department of study, including classical studies, inevitably touches upon certain regions of discussion and allusion which must be encountered and which cannot be treated as they ought to be in the presence of both boys and girls.”
An eminent classicist, Prof. William Everett, said : “To in. troduce girls into the Latin School would be a legal and moral wrong to the graduates ”; and declared that “ Greek literature is not fit for girls "; and, substantially, that what was a mental tonic for boys would be dangerous for girls.
The outcome of the effort was the founding of a “ Latin School for Girls,” which opened February, 1878, with thirtyone pupils, which number steadily increased to about two hundred.
Its graduates are in all the colleges of the State, at present, to the number of about forty, and they are among the best prepared who enter.
Not only the graduates of the school, but the whole com. munity, must ever hold in grateful memory the names of those who, as representatives of the “Society for the University Education of Women," worked wisely and indefatigably for Boston girls : Mrs. I. Tisdale Talbot, Mrs. James T. Fields, Miss Florence Cushing.
By following the history of high schools down to the present day in one section of the North Atlantic States, taken as a type of progress, we have not paused to note the few helpful agencies which were gradually developed.
Returning to the beginning of the nineteenth century it is easier to discover what women lacked than what they enjoyed in the way of intellectual stimulus. Books and newspapers were few enough to be highly valued by all.
In Boston there was a public library as early as 1637, but women were not considered as patrons. The bold venture, on the part of the sex, of invading the quiet precincts of the reading room of the library of the Boston Athenæum, was made, after a decade or two of the nineteenth century had passed, by a shy woman, grown courageous only through her eagerness for knowledge. This was Hannah Adams, who had learned Greek and Latin from some theological students boarding in her father's house, and who had written books. The innovation shocked Boston people, who declared her out of her sphere. They could not foresee that half a century later there would be more women than men readers in the great public library of the city.
Nor was it considered proper for ladies to attend public lectures, nor to appear in public assemblies except those of a religious character. Either as cause or consequence of this the Lyceum audiences were so rude that it would not have been agreeable for ladies to be present.
In 1828 the Boston Lyceum was started, and after considerable discussion women were allowed to attend lectures. This so quickened the interest and improved the manners that lectures became so popular that the largest halls were required to hold the audiences.
There is something pathetic, as showing how small were the pecuniary resources of women, in the fact that it was customary, at least in the smaller cities, to admit them to lectures at about two-thirds the price of men. “ The Lowell Institute,” Boston, secured the utmost service to its great benefaction by making no discrimination against women in its free courses of lectures.
Among the English authors who were the resource of this country in way of literature, there began to be known a few women, in whom strong natural impulse had been fostered by exceptional educational opportunity until they ventured to use the pen and even to publish. This was usually done timidly, often protestingly, and one woman, afterwards distinguished, screened her talent behind her father's name.
Lady Anne Barnard, who wrote “ Auld Robin Gray," for some reason or other kept the secret of her authorship for fifty years.
Mr. Edgeworth suppressed a translation which his daughter Maria had made, from the French, of a work on education “because his friend, Mr. Day, the author of 'Sanford and Merton,' had such a horror of female authors and their writings,” and it was published only after Mr. Day's death.
It is curious to note how large a ratio of the female writers of this time involve, in their essays or novels, some reference to the need of education for their sex. On the contrary, however, Mrs. Barbauld, herself a classical scholar and thinker, and both happy and useful through her acquirements, opposed the establishment of an academy for young ladies. She “ approved a college and every motive of emulation for young men,” but thought that "young ladies ought only to have such a general tincture of knowledge as to make them agreeable companions to a man of sense, and ought to gain these accomplishments in a more quiet and unobserved manner, from intercourse and conversation at home, with a father, brother, or friend. She regarded herself as peculiar, and not a rule for others.”
Late in the eighteenth century, Mary Wollstonecraft issued a strong and direct appeal for a recognition of the intellectual needs and capacities of women. She shocked the world into antagonism by her opinions, and by her use of the word “rights," as applied to her sex.
Much interest was felt in the graceful letters of Lady Mary