Saturday, November 10, 2018

Reading - 18C American Woman with a Book

1789 Christian Gullager (American artist, 1759-1826) Martha Saunders (Mrs Nicholas Salisbury) with glasses & a book

Historian Gloria L. Main  has written, “Historians have tended to treat female literacy as a minor postscript to the larger tale of literacy’s spread, but the story for women has important dimensions of its own.” Jefferson’s plan for a public school system included girls, but that was not typical of 18C education and women’s literacy lagged behind men’s. Scholar Kenneth Lockridge’s figures make the case: while male literacy in New England rose from 60 percent in the late 17C to 90 percent by the early days of the Republic, he estimated female literacy in the same period as rising from 31 percent to 48 percent—roughly half the rate of males.