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For the Common GoodA New History of Higher Education in America$
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Charles Dorn

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452345

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452345.001.0001

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“This is to be Our Profession—To Serve the World”

“This is to be Our Profession—To Serve the World”

Women’s Higher Education in New England

(p.133) 7 “This is to be Our Profession—To Serve the World”
For the Common Good

Charles Dorn

Cornell University Press

This chapter looks at women's higher education. Supporters of women's higher education relied on a social ethos of civic-mindedness to justify their advocacy, arguing that higher learning enhanced women's capacity to contribute to the common good as wives, virtuous citizens, and, they added occasionally, teachers. However, for many students at women's colleges, practical preparation for work outside home, paid or not, offered a primary justification for attending college. Consequently, some graduates used their higher educations to become involved in social and political causes, including settlement work and woman suffrage, while others pursued advanced degrees. Of the many all-women's seminaries and colleges established following the Civil War, Smith College exemplifies the ways in which supporters of women's higher education abided by social conventions as they expanded educational opportunities.

Keywords:   women's higher education, civic-mindedness, teachers, women's colleges, settlement work, woman suffrage, advanced degrees, Smith College, social conventions

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