John Gregory, 1724-1773.
A Father's Legacy to his Daughters. Worcester [Mass.]:
Printed by Isaiah Thomas jun. and sold at his bookstore, 1795.
Gregory imbued his message with authority by writing as if he
were an aging man imparting wisdom to his young daughters. He
also suggested that the information was not his own, but that
of the daughters' deceased mother. Since the mother died young,
the children were unable to benefit from her prudent advice. Among
the subjects included are religion, behavior, leisure, friendship,
love, and marriage. While Gregory's advice is traditional, his
attitudes are more enlightened than earlier writers, as he sees
women "not as domestic drudges, or the slaves of our pleasures,
but as our companions and equals."
||François de Salignac de La Mothe Fénelon,
Fénelon's Treatise on the Education of Daughters translated
from the French, and adapted to English Readers. Cheltenham:
Published by H. Ruff, London and sold by Longman, Hurst, Rees and
Fénelon's Treatise, originally published in 1687,
was widely read well into the nineteenth century. Fénelon
advocated a wider-ranging education for women than was common
in the seventeenth century. He believed that a woman should learn
to write and keep accounts, acquire a basic understanding of the
law, read history, and study Latin. The goal, however, was not
to free woman from the home, but to help them manage the family
estates. Fénelon believed that a woman's mind was fundamentally
different from a man's and that, while women might seek knowledge,
they might not be able to handle it.
Donald Fraser, 1755?-1820.
The Mental Flower Garden: or, An Instructive and Entertaining Companion
for the Fair Sex. New York: Printed by Southwick & Hardcastle,
Donald Fraser, author of popular instructional books used in girls'
schools, emphasized moral training over academic training for young
women in school. His "moral dialogues calculated for misses from
eight to twelve years," are dense in both style and content. In
The Mental Flower, Fraser advises young women that "[f]rom
rising morning till setting night, to see [your husband] pleased your
chief delight." Other lessons consist of long poems that addressed
female beauty, dress, and character.
Mrs. (Hester) Chapone, 1727-1801.
Letters on the Improvement of the Mind: Addressed to a Young
Lady; with a Father's Advice to an Only Daughter Immediately after
Marriage ... Hagers-town: Printed for W. D. Bell for G. Nourse,
Chapone was a very popular conduct writer who covers many traditional
topics, including study of the scriptures, government of the temper,
and regulation of the heart and affections. She endorses education
for women, and includes suggestions for reading, but advises strongly
against reading fictional stories which "enflame the passions
of youth, whilst the chief purpose of education should be to moderate
and restrain them."
Legh Richmond, 1772-1827.
Domestic Portraiture: or, The Successful Application of Religious
Principle in the Education of a Family, Exemplified in the Memoirs
of Three of the Deceased Children of the Rev. Legh Richmond.
New York: Jonathan Leavitt, 1833.
The Reverend Legh Richmond was an evangelical preacher who became
famous as a writer of popular stories of village life. His most
popular tale, "The Dairyman's Daughter," a story of
pathos and piety, sold over two million copies during the author's
lifetime. Richmond's advice to his daughter in Domestic Portraiture
follows the traditional religious-based model of woman as meek
and mild helpmate to her husband.
History of Goody Two Shoes. Baltimore: Bayly and Burns,
Thought to be the first piece of original English fiction written
to amuse children, the book was originally published by John Newbery
in 1765. The heroine rises from poverty to a good marriage through
hard work, thrift, and the use of her talents. While sold as an
amusement, the story is actually a guide to success through proper
behavior and attitude.
Margaret Coxe, b. 1800.
The Young Lady's Companion: in a Series of Letters. Columbus: Published
by I. N. Whiting, 1839.
Coxe advocates for better education for women, but recommends only
traditional roles. The book includes an extensive and challenging reading
list for young women as well as an interesting defense of the single
Catharine Maria Sedgwick, 1789-1867.
Means and Ends, or, Self-Training. Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon,
& Webb, 1839.
Means and Ends was a popular guide for women that included essays
on education, good books to read, conversation, gossiping, health and
exercise. Sedgwick seeks an active role for women but believes that
they shouldn't encroach on men's sphere.
Stories for Little Girls. An Amusing Book for the Moral Improvement
of Children. Guben [Germany]: Printed by F. Fechner, circa
In these brief stories, little girls suffer extreme punishments
for incorrect behavior. A child described as "passionate" was
sent away and never saw her mother again; a girl described as
"capricious" grew very ugly. Rather than finding the stories amusing,
young women would likely have been terrified by the wages of misbehavior.
Gift of the University of Delaware Library Associates.
George Winfred Hervey.
The Principles of Courtesy: With Hints and Observations of
Manners and Habits. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1852.
This is a very typical courtesy book with a strongly religious
orientation. What makes it unusual is the inscription from a father
to his daughter that can serve as an excellent example of the
uses and goals of advice books:
I present this Book to my dear daughter Laura Matilda Spicer,
Hoping she will be guided by many of its excellent precepts
as they are all based on common sense and religion. They will
bear the closest scrutiny.
Gift of Henry Clay Reed.
James Foster, D. D.
The Married State; or Obligations and Duties. NY: Milo Doty, 1857.
A traditional, strongly religious, prescription for marriage. Among
the duties of wives are submission, caution against levity and pride,
fidelity, frugality, and meekness.
Hannah Lindley Murray, 1777-1836.
The Toilet; edited by Mrs. S. W. Smith. Washington, D.
C.: W. Ballantyne, 1867.
Although The Toilet has the appearance of a book on cosmetics,
this is actually a conduct book. Each image contains a flap which,
when opened, reveals a moral precept. For example, the image of
"Genuine Rouge" contains the word "modesty."
C. H. (Charles H.) Kent.
A Manual for Young Ladies: With Hints on Love, Courtship, Marriage,
and the True Objects of Life. Davenport, IA: The Author, 1881.
The text combines traditional views of women's roles with some pragmatic
advice about love, marriage, choice of mate, and the bad habits of men.
The author's goal is preparing women for their "high mission"
as wives and mothers.
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