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Catherine Beecher (1800-1878)

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  1. Catherine Beecher (1800-1878) Fall 2006 EDCI 658

  2. Who Is Catharine Beecher? • Born on September 6, 1800, in East Hampton, Long Island (later Connecticut), the first of eight children of Lyman (Calvinist minister) and Roxana Beecher • Home schooled first, then entered Miss Pierce’s school for young ladies • When her mother died, she withdrew from school and helped at home until her father remarried a year later

  3. Who Is Catharine Beecher Cont. • She began to teach in 1818 at Miss Pierce’s School • She also taught needlework, drawing, and painting at a school for girls in New London, Connecticut • She was engaged to a young professor of natural philosophy at Yale, Alexander Fisher. But Fisher died in a ship accident when he went to Europe to visit the universities there • Catharine never got married in her life • She was intellectually stimulated by Fisher and decided to open her own school

  4. Who Is Catharine Beecher Cont. • The Hartford Female Seminary was an enormous success; the goal of the school was • To better instruct women in intellectual development • To form moral character, good habits, and a refined character • Her article in American Journal of Education, Female Education,” conveyed her point that the education of women should be taken seriously and the community should want “refined and well-educated women because they would confer a beneficial influence on society”

  5. Who Is Catharine Beecher Cont. • In 1830, Catharine turned her attention to the great need for teachers as the nation moved west and immigrants flocked to the new world • She decided to turn her seminary into a training school for women so that these women could open their own schools based on the model of her seminary elsewhere • She were not able to raise enough funds and decided to move from Hartford to Cincinnati • At the age of 35, she established herself among the city’s (Cincinnati) social elite and began the Western Female Institute, following the model of Emma Willard’s Hartford Female Seminary

  6. Who Is Catharine Beecher Cont. • Catharine published her Treatise on Domestic Economy, which was a success and made her a national authority in home economics • She believed that home was an integral part of the national system serving to promote mainstream American values • According to her biographer, she was one of the most known women in America • In 1852, she began the American Woman’s Educational Association as an agency that would prepare women with a liberal education and preparation as teachers to go out west (More than 400 was placed in the schools in the west)

  7. Who Is Catharine Beecher Cont. • Female Seminaries in Qunicy, Illinois, Dubuque, Iowa, and Burlington, New York • Milwaukee Female College • Catharine’s model for women’s colleges • Founded in large towns or cities • Have faculty organized on the college plan • Have the purpose to prepare women for their true profession as educators and homemakers • In her later years, she served as the principal of Emma Willard’s school, Hartford Female Seminary

  8. Who Is Catharine Beecher Cont. • She recommended “permanent female institutions with regular systematic courses of instruction fitting women for her peculiar duties—the physical, intellectual, and moral education of children • She called for the creation of a corps of women to civilize the immigrants and lower class by creating a national system of teacher seminaries • She was again not able to raise enough funds and left the school to spend several years writing and encouraging her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, to finish Uncle Tom’s Cabin

  9. Beecher’s Contribution to Education • The promotion of a demanding and complete liberal education for women • The subsequent conception of a rigorous and complete curriculum to prepare women to be teachers • The consequent popularization of teaching as a profession for women • She believed that character formation rather than communication of knowledge is the end of education. Character formation include punctuality, order, neatness, and other virtues

  10. Beecher’s Contribution to Education • She was the first woman to envision teaching as a profession dominated by women • She was the most influential educational reformer for women’s education • “For a nation to be virtuous and religious, the females of that nation must be deeply imbued with these principles: for just as the wives and mothers sink or rise in the scale of virtue, intelligence, and piety, the husbands and the sons will rise and fall” (From Essay on the Education of Female Teachers)

  11. More Resources on Beecher • • • •

  12. More Resources on Beecher • Harveson, Mae Elizabeth. Catherine Ester Beecher (Pioneer Educator). New York: Arno Press Inc. 1969. • Sexton, Patricia. Women in Education. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, 1976. • Sklar, Kathryn Kish. Catherine Beecher: A Study in American Domesticity. New York: Norton & Co., 1976. • Thorp, Margaret. Female Persuasion: Six Strong-Minded Women. New York: Archon Books, 1971.