ABSTRACT

Catharine Beecher: The Complexity of Gender in Nineteenth-Century America investigates how the life of education reformer Catharine Beecher is a lens through which to understand the cultural changes of the nineteenth century.

Catharine Beecher’s writings outlined a unique domestic role for women just as urbanization and industrialization were limiting their social influence. By arguing that gender differences were a strength, Beecher empowered middle-class women to embrace domestic duties. This book contextualizes Beecher’s life against the major changes that occurred during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century. By looking at Beecher’s writings and anecdotes from her life, this book offers insight into her personality and how her career shaped the culture of femininity. Students and the general reader will find this a powerful and insightful introduction to Catharine Beecher, her work, and legacy. 

About the Lives of American Women series: selected and edited by renowned women's historian Carol Berkin, these brief biographies are designed for use in undergraduate courses. Primary sources at the end of each biography reveal the subject's perspective in her own words. Study questions and an annotated bibliography support the student reader.

About the Series Editor: Carol Berkin is Presidential Professor of History Emerita at Baruch College & the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Berkin is a frequent contributor to PBS and History Channel television documentaries on early American and Revolutionary Era history and edits the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s online journal, History Now. She serves on the scholarly boards of several professional organizations including The National Museum of Women s History and the Scholars Board of the Gilder Lehrman Institute. She has been elected to the Society of American Historians and the American Antiquarian Society. In addition, Berkin is a frequent participant in programs at the New-York Historical Society, and a speaker for One Day University and for a variety of organizations across the country.

Series Editor’s Forward; Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1 Early Life; 2 Beecher’s Career begins; 3 Out West; 4 Beecher’s Conservativism; 5 Domesticity; 6 Education Reform; 7 The Professionalization of Womanhood; 8 The Final Phase; Epilogue; Primary Sources; Study Question; Notes; Bibliography;