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boys' schools only." So far as education of females by the town was concerned they were sadly deficient. As late as 1790, a proposition to provide schools for girls was put aside without action, by the town, and deferred for another year, and when they did set about the work it is curious to note of how little consequence they considered it as compared with the provision to be made for boys.
At first three or four schools were suggested for girls between five and nine years of age, which were “ to be furnished with dames to learn them good manners and proper decency of behavior." These were the essentials, but in addition they were to be taught “spelling and reading sufficient to read the Bible, and, if the parents desired it, needlework and knitting.”.... The sessions of the school were to be from April to October. .... But a later petition being presented to the town, that some arrangement might be made for the instruction of girls over nine years of age, the town graciously voted, March, 1792, that “ during the summer months, when the boys in the school had diminished, the master shall receive girls for instruction in grammar and reading, after the dismission of the boys, for an hour and a half.”.
Even to this poor privilege there were limitations. No person paying a tax of over three hundred pounds was permitted to send his daughters to these supplementary schools. But the scheme for the larger girls did not work well for the boys, so the masters were directed “not to teach females again.”
As late as 1804 we find the female children, over nine years of age, as great a burden on the hands of the school committee of the town as ever. In answer to another petition, of eleven persons, that this class of girls might be taught, by the town, arithmetic and writing, four girls' “ schools were established, to be kept six months in the year, from six to eight o'clock in the morning, and on Thursday afternoons.” So that, in addition to their other accomplishments, they were in a fair way of being taught early rising.
It was not until 1836 that the school committee decreed “ that one female grammar school be kept through the year." This is probably the time of which it is recorded “that, when a school was started for girls in Newburyport, a taxpayer objected to it, and applied for an injunction, bringing out Judge Shaw's celebrated opinion on that point.” (Cushing vs. Newburyport.)
In 1788 the town of Northampton voted “not to be at any expense for schooling girls." Upon an appeal to the courts
the town was indicted and fined for its neglect. In 1792 it voted “ to admit girls, between eight and fifteen, to the schools from May i to October 31.
Within the memory of a recent resident of Hatfield, an influential citizen, whose children were girls, appealed in townmeeting for the privilege of sending them to the public school, which he helped by his taxes to support. An indignant fellow townsman sprang to his feet and exclaimed, “ Hatfield school shes ? Never !”.
The gentleman who narrated this fact lived to witness, also, the foundation and endowment of a college for girls at Northampton by Miss Smith of Hatfield, one of the sex, and probably one of the girls contemptuously forbidden a commonschool education.
For a long time after summer schools were provided for girls, in many of the New England towns they were not supported, by a general tax, as were the winter schools for boys, but by tuition fees.
Josiah Quincy, in his “Municipal History of Boston,” says “After the peace of 1783, a committee on schools ‘laments that so many children should be found in the streets, playing and gaming in school hours.'” There seems as yet to be no search for girls who are losing school advantages.
In 1789 great educational advance was made in Boston. A system was adopted which provided “a 'Latin School’ for fitting boys of ten years old and over, by a four years' course, including Greek and Latin, for the University ; also three reading and writing schools.”
Boys had the right to attend these all the year round ; girls from the twentieth of April to the twentieth of October. This was the first admission of girls to the “free schools."
Provision was made this year that “ arithmetic, orthography, and the English language shall be taught, in addition to reading and writing.” It is to be hoped that this applied to the summer sessions, open to girls, as well as to the all-the-yearround sessions for boys.
When, however, early in the nineteenth century, arithmetic and geography were generally added to the courses of studies in schools, it was only for the winter months, such knowledge being thought quite unnecessary for girls. “ Alla girl needs to know is enough to reckon how much she will have to spin to buy a peck of potatoes, in case she becomes a widow," was the repulse of a too ambitious girl in the early part of this century.
An old lady, sitting beside the present writer, well remem
bers that in her youth, having outreached the prescribed limits of the girl's class in arithmetic, she grappled alone with the mysteries of “interest.” Meeting some difficulty she appealed to her older brother, who had been duly instructed. His scornful reply was, “I am ashamed of a girl who wants to study interest'!”
The need of more teachers led gradually to the employment of women in “those schools where, besides morals, the only requirements were reading, sewing, and writing if contracted
In the law of 1789 the expression “ master and mistress " makes recognition of women as teachers for the first time. Hitherto women so employed could not legally collect their wages; the receipt of their dues depended upon the honor of their employers.
This act of justice may have been the more appreciated as the wages of female teachers were evidently on a rising scale. Something less than a half century after Mistresses Wright and Converse had shared their year's income of ten shillings, the following vote, passed in the town meeting of Lexington, shows an increased estimate of women's services :
" At a meeting of the inhabitants, July 21, 1717, they agreed that Clerk Lawrence's wife and Ephraim Winship’s wife keep school from ye day of ye date hereof until ye last day of October next following; and if they have not scholars sufficient as to numbers to amount to five shillings a week, at three pence a scholar a week, then ye towne to make up what is wanted of ye five shillings out of the treasury thereof; provided ye selectmen do not see cause to demolish sd schole before sd term be expired."
Probably no deductions from the above specified wages were necessary for living expenses, which these mistresses of households may be supposed to have earned in their duties at home. When, in the course of the succeeding century, wages increased to seventy-five cents or even to a dollar a week, the teacher was expected to “board around,” though sometimes her board in one place was paid for from public funds. In the latter case, in many New England towns, the privilege of boarding the teacher, like that of boarding town paupers, was put up for public competition, and was struck off to the lowest bidder.
Up to 1828 girls did not go to the public schools in Rhode Island.
Antedating the earliest records here transcribed is the claim
made that the first free school in America was made in Virginia in 1621. If so it struck no root, for, in 1671, Bishop Berkely, Governor of Virginia, wrote, “ I thank God there are no free schools nor printing ; and I hope we shall not have them these hundred years.” It was one hundred and seven years later, in 1778, that Thomas Jefferson introduced a bill in the Virginia legislature, designed to establish a system of public schools in that State, arguing that “the greatest sacrifice the people of the republic can make will fail to secure civil liberty to their posterity unless they provide for the education of youth.”
In the Dutch settlement of Manhattan a movement for schools was made which proved more successful than in Virginia, as befitted its source in the Netherlands, where, since the sixteenth century, “the fruitfulness of a wise and stateadministered system of universal education" had been illustrated.
In 1630, the States-General of Holland issued orders to the Dutch East India Company in Manhattan to maintain a clergyman and a schoolmaster, and in 1633 arrived Adam Roelandsen, and the first school-tax ever levied in America was imposed on each householder and inhabitant. So Brooklyn had the first free public school in the United States. Until 1808, this school was in charge of the local congregation of the Dutch Reformed church ; then a board of trustees was appointed. This school still continues.
In 1658, the Burgomasters petitioned for a fit person as Latin schoolmaster. This was granted, and so the first classical school was instituted.
Since it is time that the day of jubilation and self-gratulation should be over in America, and that the day of sober, earnest study of educational work should come in, it is not the part of wisdom to forget that the free school system did not originate in America. In an address to magistrates, in 1524, Luther urged that they should “at least provide the poor suffering youth with a schoolmaster”: and what “youth” meant to Luther appears in his plea that “ solely with a view to the present, it would be sufficient reason for the best schools, both for boys and girls, that the world, merely to maintain outward prosperity, has need of shrewd and accomplished men and women.”
In Manhattan, the successor of Adam Roelandsen found time, outside his duties as teacher, to act as gravedigger, bell. ringer, and precentor”; but if in place of these extra-official duties, the colonists had so profited by the wisdom of Luther as to cause him to take time for the instruction of girls, we may well believe that it would have changed the history of education in America.
Mr. Richard G. Boone reminds us, in his valuable work on “ Education in the United States," that “ Charles and Gustavus Adolphus did for Sweden and their generations what America, with all her achievements, has failed to do since ; they made education so common that in the year 1637, the year of the founding of Harvard, not a single peasant child was unable to read and write."
There is pathetic contrast too, if it be fair to draw it, in the fact that while the colonial fathers were barricading the doors of the little schoolhouses against girls, so that a large part of the wills which women made in that period were signed with a cross, and even many wives of distinguished men could not sign their names, as appears by the registered deeds of the time, an Italian woman, Elena Lucrezia Cornaro, “poet, musician, astronomer, mathematician, and linguist,” received a Dr.'s degree at the university of Padua, and Novela d'Andrea, who was both learned and beautiful, occasionally lectured for her father, who was a law professor in the University of Bologna. To be sure, this was in line with a tradition in Italy for which England herself could furnish no parallel.
In that ancient seat of learning, Bologna University, which produced the most famous jurisconsults of the middle ages, women had been for centuries both students and professors.
Bettisia Gozzidini, LL.D., fiiled the juridical chair from 1239 till her death in 1249 ; Bettina and Novella Calderini lectured on law a century later ; and in succeeding centuries other women became renowned in various departments, including mathematics and anatomical research.
To fill the pages of two centuries, blank, in America, as to female education beyond the merest rudiments of learning, let Abigail, wife of President John Adams, who was descended from the most illustrious colonial families, the Shepards, Nortons, and Quincys, sketch for us the intellectual opportunities for girls of her own rank in her time. Born in 1744, she wrote, in 1817, when past threescore and ten :
“ The only chance for much intellectual improvement in the female sex was to be found in the families of the educated class, and in occasional intercourse with the learned of the day. Whatever of useful instruction was received in the practical conduct of life came from maternal lips : and what of farther