The Library of Congress > American Memory
banner image
return to home page table of contents about the guide abbreviations search banner image

Manuscript Division



Women's Suffrage
arrow graphicEducation
African American Schools
Missionaries, Teachers, and Clergymen
University Professors
Government Officials
Health and Medicine
Papers of Presidents and First Ladies
Congressional Collections
Legal Collections
Military and Diplomatic Affairs
Literature and Journalism
Artists, Architects, and Designers
Actresses and Actors




see caption below

A modern manual training school. Baker & Cornwall, photographers. 1905. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-13380 (b&w film copy neg.)

full caption
| bibliographic record

Campaigns to improve the quality of women's primary education and to ensure their access to schools of higher learning were among some of the first reform efforts undertaken by women. Great debates raged as to the amount and content of schooling women should receive. Women's physical and mental capacities came into question, and their struggle to gain admittance to predominantly male schools and programs has continued to this day.

In 1804, Washington society leader Margaret Bayard Smith (1778-1844) [catalog record] lamented how her “passionate fondness for reading” was “opposed by circumstances and the friends with whom [she] lived” who oversaw her education. She declared that “had I been a boy and conducted regularly through the paths of science-how much more useful-how much more happy might I have been!”10

Obstacles such as those described by Smith and other aspects of women's education and their entry into the teaching ranks may be explored in a host of collections held by the Manuscript Division. The topic, in fact, is an overwhelming one, since more than 330 collections are identified when searching the catalog for the term “educators.” Division collections are replete with notebooks, letters, and diaries written by girls and young women while in school. Many of the women whose papers are described elsewhere retained documents from their school days, and these materials are usually identified in the finding aids for those collections.

Family papers often include information on women's education. See especially the papers of the:

Also of note are early nineteenth-century student work books kept by Bathsheba Barton (1 item; 1819); Ann Maria Churchill (3 items; ca. 1830); Sarah Hall (1 item; 1813); and Caroline Dana Jarvis (1 item; 1819).

red line
Home Table of Contents About the Guide Abbreviations Search
The Library of Congress> > American Memory