Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Life of Female Teachers in the 19th Century

By Kimberly Grist

One of my goals, when I write, is to combine my love of history with an inspirational theme, a bit of romance, and believable characters. As I was researching the life of a teacher during the late 19th century, I was astounded by the rules that a female teacher had to adhere to. Which do you find the most outrageous?

Fast forward twenty years later and although society was in a phase of rapid industrialization with the introduction of electrical power and telephones, very little changed in the rules for female teachers. The idea that married women didn't need income was the most common rationale for the ban on marriage for female teachers.

Boarding was both common and practical for teachers and allowed them to live within walking distance of the schoolhouse and to live as well as their students.

Replica of a sod home

New, inexperienced teachers, hired by the lowest-paying districts, often endured poor living conditions.

Inside a sod home with a trundle bed

Garnet's Gift
Twenty-two-year-old Garnet Adams longs to marry and have a houseful of children. Forced to support her widowed mother, she embraces her role as teacher, although the Carrie Town board of education's rules for female teachers leave no opportunity for a social life. She contents herself to play the violin at church. Tall, bearded, and rough around the edges, Deputy Noah Scott would rather hunt than socialize. Garnet thinks he’s a rude, insensitive drifter, and Noah's sure the last person he'd want to court is a schoolmarm--especially with her unladylike sneeze. As the needs of her students bring them together, opposites seem to attract until a certain Christmas present derails their future.

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Fans of historical romance set in the late 19th -century will enjoy stories combining, History, Humor, and Romance, emphasizing Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.

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  1. Thank you for your post and Happy New Year! Times have certainly changed for everyone over the years, and I have a feeling that rules pertaining to teachers and social behavior would not be tolerated these days. Fortunately we have many fine teachers who have a passion for instilling knowledge into our children!

  2. As they say, "We've come a long way, baby." In this situation that is definitely a good thing.

  3. Weren't many of the teachers under 21yo?
    I thought I read somewhere that one could become a teacher at 16 or 17, and that most of the teachers in the 1880s were under 25yo.

    1. Mary Ellen -yes they were- I read they were as young as 13.