Teaching on the Illinois Frontier

Today’s blog post looks at what it was really like to teach in rural Illinois in the 1850s. The JFA was founded as an institution to train teachers, but as of yet, I’ve not put my hands on any direct writings or reminisces of early JFA-educated teachers who clearly described their experiences as students and teachers. As a result, I’m here in Connecticut trying to piece together the bigger picture using other sources. Continue reading

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Infant Schools – or Daycare in 1830s Jacksonville

20151210_143513Last 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 Infant School, taught by Miss Caroline Blood and held in the back of Mr. D.B. Ayre’s Druggist Shop (you may recall that Mr. Ayres was on the board of the JFA and later the superintendent of the Morgan County Alms House and Poor farm).  More than a woman trying to get by through taking in young children, Miss Blood was an important player in a national movement to establish the first preschools and daycares in the United States.  Continue reading

The Elephant in the Room

Elephant - Western Observer - April 23 1831_Page_15

From the Western Observer, April 23, 1831.

I stumbled across this ad from the Western Observer, a Jacksonville newspaper, dated April 1831. It throws a wrench into everything we think we know about the frontier.

It is the literal elephant in the room that brings together various threads questioning standard historical narratives that privilege patriarchy, whiteness, and Americans’ obsession with manifest destiny.  Continue reading