Catharine Esther Beecher

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Catharine Esther Beecher was born in the year of 1800, in a century characterized by the belief that women and men possessed distinct characteristics. Men were thought to be bold and prone to violence while women were believed to be virtuous and lived solely to have babies. Catharine did not adhere to the belief of women being solely homemakers and instead said, “Those who contend against giving woman the same education as man, do it on the ground that it would make the woman unfeminine–as if nature had done her work so slightly that it could be so easily raveled and knit over.” Catharine was highly progressive for her time in promoting higher education for women. Catharine was the first child born to Dr. Lyman and Roxana Foote Beecher in…show more content…
Catharine and her sister became the first teachers in the seminary. Catharine did not adhere to the belief that women were solely homemakers, but rather believed that women needed to be well educated in order to achieve moral development and education of their children. Catharine was ambitious and wanted to teach her students subjects that she had not learned herself. She took lessons in Latin from her brother, Edward Beecher, head of the Hartford Latin School. A few weeks later, she began teaching it to her students. Teaching rhetoric, logic, algebra, and chemistry among other studies, Catharine found the books to be unsuitable to teach her students the way she desired and instead began to write her own. Even more groundbreaking, Catharine taught calisthenics to teach women proper physical education because she believed society’s view imposed poor views of health by promoting fragility, tight corsets, and poor diets. Even though Catharine advocated proper health, she had numerous nervous collapses and was treated in sanitariums frequently in her life. Catharine authored multiple treatises and books, including, A Treatise on Domestic Economy, The American Woman’s Home, The Moral Instructor for Schools and Families: Containing Lessons on the Duties of Life, and The Duty of American Women to Their Country. Catharine wrote a plethora of books and poetry,…show more content…
Catharine maintained her time by lecturing and writing books. Had she been a man, she would have joined her brothers in the clergy. However, she instead became an unofficial preacher to women about morals, self-sacrifice, modesty, and baby care in her works. Catharine was opposed to the suffrage movement and published an anti-suffrage book, The True Remedy for the Wrongs of Women and Woman’s Profession in which she portrayed the home and school as what women should exert their energy on. Catharine also helped establish other colleges in Burlington, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Furthermore, Catharine helped develop an organization, The Ladies Society for Promoting Education in the West, and the American Women’s Educational Association. The mission of the American Women’s Educational Association was to send teachers to the West to found and develop schools. Catharine spent her life successfully promoting and improving the opportunity for women to have access to higher education. She taught and lectured about education, economy, and women’s health until she passed away in 1878. She was buried in Elmira, New
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