The Life of the Institution

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Range 2 of the Barnard Collection. Patrons are not typically allowed in the stacks, but Curator Rick Ring very graciously gave me tour.

One stipulation of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium fellowship is that I become involved in the life of the institutions I visit. On Monday, I spent the day at the Watkinson Library at Trinity College in Hartford. The Watkinson boasts an incredible collection of rare books, including the library of education reformer Henry Barnard. The Barnard collection alone consists of approximately 7,000 volumes related to education from about 1800 until 1880, and I’m there to see the text books adopted by the Jacksonville Female Academy. Thanks to Christian, the amazing student research assistant, I have a list of those books drawn from a sampling of catalogs over various decades. Continue reading

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They Treat Me As a Sister: New England, Day 2

Today I blog live from the Connecticut Historical Society where I am combing through the records of MS 4823 – The National Popular Education Board. During the 1840s and 1850s, this organization based in Hartford, CT trained New England women as teachers and then sent them west to work in small towns. Thanks to the generosity of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, I get to make the opposite trek and spend the next eight weeks learning about the history of Jacksonville by traveling through the region where many of the town’s early leaders originated: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and later, New Hampshire. Continue reading

Pious women only

Last month, we looked at the story of Amanda Lucas and her relationship with male merchants/JFA trustees/poor farm administrators/county courts. While espousing the benefits of women’s education, the trustees of the JFA also forced low-income women to work off debts. Since then, I’ve cross checked the names of all the women forced to work at the Morgan County Poor Farm during the 1850s and 1860s with names on the JFA rosters. None match. This continues to perplex me as I’ve wondered: what made a woman worthy of an education? Why would the JFA not extend a helping hand to these young women in need?

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New Year’s Resolutions

No, this is not a list of things I want to accomplish. In fact, it’s my anti-list. It’s my call to tell myself and everyone else on the planet to just relax. The holiday season was one of much needed rest and reflection. Feeling as though I had not accomplished all that I had hoped in the first semester of my sabbatical, I sought a few sources to help me think constructively about the American Athena project. For my writer and academic friends out there, here is a selection of three sources that you might find helpful as well.
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