ABSTRACT

Women's education in the nineteenth century has generally been studied from a secular standpoint and as a socio-economic function. This chapter seeks to present a picture of the subjective experience of women as students and teachers, within the Christian context. Education was provided by Roman Catholic, Anglican, Dissenting, and Evangelical bodies, with different agendas. Daughters of middle-class evangelical families were often taught in the domestic setting. Overwhelmingly, women saw teaching in schools and in the home as a Christian vocation. There was a rise in religious devotional literature produced by women, for whom this was an avenue to professional writing. This included hymns, tracts, biographies, and magazine articles. The growing missionary movements were prodigious publishers of writing by and for women, and also established their own teaching institutions. Women's education became formalized from the mid-century onwards, with the development of Teacher Training Colleges and Catholic Teaching Orders. Now, professional teaching careers were open to women, who were pioneers in furthering educational opportunities, even in university settings. Alumnae were valued and became effective in social campaigns and mission, due to the Christian formation and organizational skills imparted by such institutions, as well as a high level of education.