Full Caption: “For the Benefit of the Girl Who Is about to Graduate.” Lithograph. From Life, May 22, 1890, 298-99. General Collections. LC-USZ62-58805. Full Caption: “For the Benefit of the Girl Who Is about to Graduate.” Lithograph. From Life, May 22, 1890, 298-99. General Collections. LC-USZ62-58805.

This cartoon from a May 1890 issue of the illustrated weekly humor magazine Life typifies a traditionalist view of education as threatening the ideal of womanhood by leading women away from their domestic duties. As the young scholar, or bluestocking, sleeps, a nightmarish army of domestic paraphernalia threatens to overwhelm her. Addressing those who questioned the value of higher education for women, most of the pioneer women's colleges advertised similar educational philosophies and goals. Their aim was to produce enlightened mothers, wives, and social exemplars. The tension between self-realization and family needs continues to be a hotly debated issue today.

see caption below