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A New Moral VisionGender, Religion, and the Changing Purposes of American Higher Education, 1837-1917$
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Andrea L. Turpin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704789

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704789.001.0001

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Ideological Origins of the Women’s College

Ideological Origins of the Women’s College

Catharine Beecher, Mary Lyon, and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary

(p.39) Chapter 2 Ideological Origins of the Women’s College
A New Moral Vision

Andrea L. Turpin

Cornell University Press

This chapter discusses the contributions of Catharine Beecher and Mary Lyon. The two founded the Holyoke Female Seminary in Massachusetts. Beecher and Lyon developed more articulated educational philosophies that fused liberal studies with training in domestic arts and feminine graces. Their three-year schools offered a curriculum slightly less rigorous than men's colleges, and reflected a growing interest in women's education nurtured by both the political and economic realities of the 1820s and 1830s. Contrasting the educational philosophies of the two women reveals that the Seven Sisters Seminary's decision to copy the liberal arts curriculum of elite male colleges was not a forgone conclusion, and neither were their high price tag or the moral messages they communicated to students.

Keywords:   Catharine Beecher, Mary Lyon, Holyoke Female Seminary, liberal arts curriculum, Seven Sisters

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