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Woman's Work is Never Done

Teaching and Education

Mrs. and the Misses Adams School

In the years following the American Revolution, opportunities for schooling and education began to increase, resulting in a rise in literacy rates. Education was very important to the new republic because most believed that an educated person made the best citizen. Schools for girls began to appear, teaching reading, writing, and needlework. This 1811 trade card announces the opening of a new school for young ladies.
Becoming a school teacher appealed to many women in rural areas, and to single women who did not want to work in a mill, and who probably would not continue working after marriage. This trade card from 1836 specifically advertises the start of a new school year at a school for girls.
Young Ladies School

As education and schooling for girls became more widespread, schools began to open with college level classes for women. The Oread Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, claimed to offer a very happy and fulfilling educational environment for women. As shown in the March 19, 1853, issue of Gleason's Pictorial, the Oread Institute was said to give women privileges normally reserved for men.


The Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia, which opened for the education of African Americans in 1868, was founded by the American Missionary Association. Women were admitted into the Industrial Department, where they learned to make garments by using various types of sewing machines, and were taught economical housekeeping. All students had to complete a certain number of hours a week of manual labor. According to the school catalog, this was necessary for "purposes of discipline and instruction." This image is of the Girl's Industrial Room at the school.

Girl's Industrial Room
Infant Sabbath SchoolTeaching, as an occupation, employed only a very small percentage of the female work force, but it was a significant opportunity nonetheless. However, some women, such as those who taught at Sabbath Schools, were unpaid. This image, entitled "Picture of the first Infant Sabbath School," is from a trade card for the sabbath school. The school was established in the First Baptist Church in Boston in 1829, and one of its teachers was a woman.


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