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 theContinue reading “Pious women only”

Infant Schools – or Daycare in 1830s Jacksonville

Last month, you read about women coming to Jacksonville in the 1830s to teach. This week, we’ll add one more to the list: Miss Caroline Blood. Her name first caught my eye when I found this ad, placed by Sarah Crocker in the Illinois Patriot on 19 October 1833. Just above it is an ad for an InfantContinue reading “Infant Schools – or Daycare in 1830s Jacksonville”

One town, two worlds

On November 1, 1848, twenty-two-year-old Mary Ann Lucas arrived the Morgan County Poor Farm, blind and destitute. Her widowed mother, Elizabeth, had fallen on hard times. It was up to her younger sister, nineteen-year-old Amanda Lucas, to support her mother, sister, and twelve-year-old brother, John. By the end of November, Amanda accumulated a debt of $16.50. She purchased shoes,Continue reading “One town, two worlds”

Quenching the fire in her heart: The Ladies’ Association for Educating Females

One of my big questions in American Athena is: What happens when you have a community of educated females? Do women agitate for and enjoy more social, political, and economic rights? Does it affect how they shape their institutions and move in public spaces?

Choosing a topic

Every writer has a unique way of arriving at their subject matter. For me, American Athena was something of a surprise. There were more than a few raised eyebrows when I announced to friends and colleagues in January 2015 that I was embarking on a history of Midwestern women in the nineteenth century because it was so unlikeContinue reading “Choosing a topic”

Finding the meaning in sources: the diary of Laura Manier

Historians approach sources in two ways: first, what does the source say. Second, what does the source mean. As a historian with a dual interest in archives, I enjoy an unusual relationship with source materials. Unlike most researchers who visit distant repositories, I’m still the primary steward of the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives  at Illinois College (that is, untilContinue reading “Finding the meaning in sources: the diary of Laura Manier”

A Fire in Her Bones

As its main selling point, this 1892 advertisement claims the JFA is the “oldest institution in the West for the education of young ladies.” My colleagues and I have often repeated this fact, but we have to ask: It this true? Is this really important? Why do they need to be first? Why to we needContinue reading “A Fire in Her Bones”