Girls´ Education in the 19th Century

Motherhood – Delegated Power

Magasin des demoiselles 1860

”Yet is it my comfort, that I have all of my children brought to me at two occasions every day, that is after breakfast and dinner.”

(Excerpt from a quotation of a ”significantly tender” mother. Karl Ludvig Georg von Raumer: Flickors uppfostran. p. 5. )

”In Raumer´s thougths also appears – - the idea of cooperation between the sexes. He notices that many of the representatives of his time concider the education of girls only to be the mother´s responsibility and that the father can´t interfere with it very much.  According to him it just seems to be so. In actual fact has the father to have his share in educating girls.

Even though a good father doesn´t because of taking care of the duties as a citizen have a possibility to get to know all the details of the education of girls, it is his obligation to show interest to the bringing up of children. A man shall control his family and be acquaintance with the responsibility he has as an educator. The pedagogic responsibility he has comprises both his wife and children.

When a wife has an understanding and submissive attitude, she can learn greatly from her husband. As a wife is rightly inclined does she also find a support in her husband. In the care of a reliable wife can a man with a secure heart entrust the practical main responsibility of the education of girls. The wife has such skills suitable to bring up girls that the man lacks. The husband delegates therefore some responsibility for the wife who fits better for the commission.”

Raumer criticized harshly a superficial way of raising children. He stressed that it was both parents´ responsibility to personally look after the descendants. The understanding of cooperation and power delegating was progressive. From a social standpoint did statements like this lead to a demand of equal education during the later half of the 19th century.

A New Kind of Learning Plan

Magasin des demoiselles 1850

”In lack of higher education there wakens a useless, yes indeed a soul-destructing interest for quite worthless, vain matters in the girl.”

(Karl Ludvig Georg von Raumer: Flickors uppfostran. p. 50.)

”It was strictly restricted what girls got to learn. Only subjects that supported a feminine character were allowed. For example sewing and knitting were important according to Rousseau. Writing, reading and the arts got to stay on a superficial state of learning. Weakness and submissiv behavior that is to say self-denying and the virtues of patience such as chastity, shame, morality, kindness, the talent of beautifying and beauty were thought as characteristic for the female gender.”

”Raumer objects to educating girls outside the domestic sphere. According to the Christian order is the mother the primary educationalist for girls. The nature has equipped her with adequate qualities for the task. – - Professor Ruth Bleckwenn published the German pedagogue´s work Die Erziehung der Mädchen (Stuttgart: 1853) in reprint and with a foreword written by herself in the series Quellen und Schriften zur Geschichte der Frauenbildung (Paderborn: 1988). – - In the introduction for the reprint of the German original professor Ruth Bleckwenn states yet, that Raumer´s negative idea towards education of girls outside their homes leads to a concern of  the breaking up of families. In addition to that did the schools strive for superficial upbringing. The goal for them was to shape the girl into a lady, whose value on the matrimonial market would be as great as possible.”

Magasin des demoiselles 1865

”The teaching plan that Raumer created for girls includes among others studies in English, history, natural science and litterature. Raumer was progressiv. On the publishing year of Die Erziehung der Mädchen did the subjects not belong in educating girls. They didn´t get their place until the higher schools for girls that were founded from the 1870´s. Admittedly does the German professor have a great emphasis in the emotional character of teaching for example natural sciences. The education shall not be pedantic or dry. The place of a girl is rather by an artist than by a natural scientist. She should not pick roses and lilies apart for a thorough and scientific review. A girl shall follow the growth of flowers with love and take care of them with gentle hands.”

Though the stressing of the emotional character of the education did Raumer great work in paving the way for a right to higher education for girls.

Quotations: Sara Medberg: ”…Sie sollen d i e n e n lernen…” – tyttöjen kasvatus J. O. I. Ranckenin toimittaman Karl von Raumerin teoksen Die Erziehung der Mädchen 1853 ruotsinnoksen (1870) mukaan. p. 59, 69, 72-73, 85. Helsinki University: 2008.

Text and translation from ”…Sie sollen d i e n e n lernen…” and Flickors uppfostran: Sara Medberg.

The contents of this website base on the author´s Master´s Thesis: ”…Sie sollen d i e n e n lernen…” – tyttöjen kasvatus J. O. I. Ranckenin toimittavan Karl von Raumerin teoksen Die Erziehung    der Mädchen 1853 ruotsinnoksen (1870) mukaan. Helsinki University: 2008.

Image source:
Nypl Digital Gallery
Magasin des demoiselles 1860
Magasin des demoiselles 1850
Magasin des demoiselles 1865