History of Education
Collaborative high school research on public school history focusing on Beverly, Massachusetts
Table of Contents



Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F
Appendix G
Appendix H
Appendix I

Appendix J
Appendix K
Appendix L
Appendix M
Appendix N
Appendix O
Appendix P
Appendix Q

Other research topics

About the project

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Beverly Educational Archives

Monroe C. Gutman Library (Harvard Graduate School of Education)

Normal Schools' Influence on Women's Changing Roles in Society
by Amy Synenki



                “The business of teaching…was regarded as very laborious, but if the teacher attended to the normal and intellectual education of his pupil, he would find the drudgery greatly lessened. –Cyrus Peirce” [1] Horace Mann’s creation of Massachusetts’s normal schools greatly affected women’s role in society by providing an opportunity for a further education. These normal schools offered women the opportunity to continue their education, helped them to become better teachers, and later offered women training in other areas in addition to teaching. Many of the teachers who attended normal schools found jobs at local high schools such as Beverly High School.

            Horace Mann is known as “The Father of American Education.” Mann’s greatest contribution to society was stressing the importance of education. He introduced to America the ideas of a common school, which equalized education throughout public schools, the High School, and the Normal School. Mann was born in 1796 in Franklin, Massachusetts. He was a lawyer until 1837, when he quit and decided to dedicate his life to the advancement of public education. 

            The idea of a teachers’ training college was invented in Germany by Augustus Herman Franke. He called the training school “a Teachers’ Seminary.” Franke’s idea was then introduced to America by Horace Mann. Mann named these training schools “normal schools.” A normal school is simply another name for a teachers’ school or college. These colleges were a place for teachers to continue their education, which


would benefit the children who were to later have these teachers. The purpose of the normal school was to teach the teacher how to relate academic lessons to children. Children’s education could then improve because they were learning from teachers specifically trained to teach their own students. The men and women who attended the normal school were expected to have a fine sense of knowledge of the basic branches of study such as arithmetic, reading, writing, and preferably a second language, before they began teaching. However, the factor that made a person a great teacher was not what he or she knew, but how well that teacher could relate the information to his or her students. Horace Mann wrote specifically about the importance of teachers relating to the children in his notes (See figure 1 in appendix).

            “To obtain truth for oneself is a very different thing from proving it to another, and to prove the same truth to a child may require a process very different from they which would prove it to a man…” 2


            The first established normal school in Massachusetts was Framingham Normal School in Lexington, Massachusetts on July 3, 1839. This school was under the care of Cyrus Peirce, a strong normal school supporter. Some of the other first normal schools were Westfield Normal School, Bridgewater, Salem, Boston (Normal Art), Worcester, Fitchburg, North Adams, Hyannis, and Lowell. These schools were all established before the 1900’s.



            “Yet in some ways, Framingham was in advance of the other schools. It was for women only and close to Boston, it was the recipient of aid from the organized women’s movement of that city.”3

            Not everyone who wanted to attend a normal school was accepted. There were several requirements including an entrance exam. The female applicants could not be any younger than sixteen whereas the males could not be younger than seventeen. Certificates of good moral standing were necessary along with records that verify that the person has finished four years at his or her high school. In addition, the students who applied to the normal schools also had to declare their intention to teach after graduation.

            The examination was broken down into two main sections: written and oral. The oral exam tested a person’s personality, use of language, and helped the interviewer get another sense of the applicants’ qualifications. For the oral test, students were encouraged to bring in a sample of their own work such as essays or articles they had written. The written exam consisted of two parts. The first part was “Reading and Practice,” in which the students read several books and wrote about them. The second part was called “Study and Practice.” Here, the student was to closely examine certain aspects of pieces of literature. 

            Normal schools were a step up in society for women. These schools did not discriminate by gender but by intelligence. As long as the women met the requirements and passed the exam, they were welcomed at the normal schools. By allowing women to


continue their education, they could become more than mindless factory workers and housewives. The normal schools provided women with the opportunity to train as teachers, thus increasing their chances of finding respectable jobs. The better the school was, the more money a teacher made. Many years after the first normal school was established, women were offered the chance to study other fields, as well. For example,

women studied typing so they could become secretaries. When Horace Mann introduced the idea of normal schools to America, it was new to both men and women. This gave both sexes an equal opportunity to become outstanding teachers.

            Both men and women had the same opportunities while studying at the normal schools. However, once these trained teachers were working at a school, this was not the case. There were several differences between male and female teachers, such as different salaries, positions held at the school, and the training they underwent. Despite the relative equality within the normal schools, society was still gender discriminative. Male teachers’ salaries were higher than women’s simply because of their gender. The salary chart from Beverly High School is a perfect example of this (See figure 2 in appendix).

            Another difference between male and female teachers were the positions they held at the school. Even though certain men and women graduated from the same college, the men were offered a higher position within the high school. For example, at Beverly High School, B. Sumner Hurd and Marion R. Dexter, both graduated from Bates College. Hurd became principal while Marion was just a teacher. To this day, there has never been a female principal at Beverly High School. 



            According to the information found in the Beverly School Committee Reports, the majority of the teachers at Beverly High School during 1911, 1924, and 1930 were women. In 1911, 77% of the teachers at Beverly High School were women, in 1924, the percentage was 75, and 69% in 1930 (See figures 3, 4, and 5). Of the teachers who once attended normal schools, the majority were also women. In each of these three years, the percentage of women who attended normal schools was well over 50%. This information can be further studied by the chart in the appendix (See figure 6). This High School data was also compared to data from an elementary school.

            When comparing the percentages of males and females at a Beverly elementary school, the numbers were overwhelming. In 1911, 1924, and 1930, the percentage of women teachers working at Washington Elementary School was 100%. A larger percentage of elementary school teachers attended normal schools compared to the

percentage of high school teachers. In 1911, 19% of the teachers attended normal schools, 15% of the teachers attended normal schools in 1924 and 1930. There was a female principal at Washington Elementary School in 1911,1924, and 1930 (For a more detailed chart, see figure 7 in the appendix).

            The majority of Beverly High School teachers starting from 1910 to the present, did not attend normal schools. Most of the teachers, both men and women, trained to teach at private colleges. Some of the more popular private colleges during 1911 were Bates College, Colby College, Smith College, and Boston University. Several Beverly High School teachers during the early 1900’s did not continue their education after


graduating from Beverly High School. Elizabeth L. Woodbury, a teacher at Beverly High School in 1930, did not attend any college or training after graduating from high school.

This information can be seen in the 1930 school committee report (See figure 5 in the appendix). 

            However, once teachers were out of their undergraduate training, this did not mean that they were done learning about their profession. Professional development became an integral aspect of the teaching profession, as noted in 1917 school report.


            “A vast amount of work is done each year by the teachers of Beverly to keep             themselves informed of the newer tendencies in education; to prepare themselves             for more efficient work in some particular field; and to add to their intellectual             equipment those things that tend to broaden and inspire.” 4 


(See figure 8 in the appendix for tabulation of this information).

            The growth of the teachers’ profession increased drastically over the years. The reason for this was because of the increased attendance of students. A chart created by the school committee shows the ratio of teachers to students (See figure 9 in the appendix).  

            Demographic information about teachers from Peabody High School was gathered and compared to Beverly High School (See figures 10, 11, and 12). The purpose of this was to compare percentages of teachers who attended normal schools from two similar public schools. There were more teachers at Beverly High School, however Peabody High School had a higher percentage of female teachers than Beverly. Also, more teachers from Peabody High School attended normal schools. One similarity


was that both schools had a higher percentage of female teachers than male teachers. (See figure 13 in appendix to see Peabody High School’s statistical chart).

            The statistics from public high schools were extremely different from those of a private high school. Statistics were also analyzed from the West Newton Allen School (See figure 14). In 1908-1909, all of the teachers from this private school graduated from private colleges. Some of these colleges include Harvard University, Brown University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yale University. One hundred percent of the teachers from West Newton Allen School were men. 

            The 1910 census shows a demographic study of some of the teachers from Beverly High School. The census revealed patterns and additional information about these teachers. For example, the city directory and census proved that there were several teachers who lived in boarding houses. It was mostly the unmarried female teachers who lived in these houses.

            Maleen Hicks and Ruby Smith Baker were both teachers at Beverly High School who lived in the same house at 43 Lovett Street (See figure 15 in appendix). Ruby Smith Baker attended Lowell Normal School and Radcliffe College and made 820 dollars per year at Beverly High School, while Maleen Hicks graduated from A.B. Bates College and earned 850 dollars at Beverly High School. Some of the other teachers who lived in boarding houses were Elizabeth Horne, Laura Horne, Carrie Comings and Julia Goldman. All four women lived at 28 Abbot Street (See figure 16 in appendix). Laura Rogers and John R. King also lived together at 28 Dane Street. Laura attended A.B. Smith College and made 850 dollars per year while John attended Bridgewater Normal School, Bryant


Business College, and Stratton Business College, and earned 790 dollars. B. Sumner Hurd, the principal of Beverly High School, graduated from Bates College, and made 2,240 dollars per year (See figure 17 in the appendix). All of these teachers and their parents were born in New England.

            Based on this information, there is probably no single factor that affected a teacher’s salary. The amount of a teacher’s salary was determined by several factors such as gender, tenure, the teacher’s previous education, the school at which he or she taught, and the grade or level that the teacher taught. Tenure was an agreement made between a teacher and the school at which he or she taught.  Each teacher agreed to teach for a certain number of years. In the early 1900’s, the most common tenure was one and three years. Within the contracted years, the school guaranteed that that teacher could not be fired, with the exception of certain rules.

            Horace Mann’s creation of Massachusetts’s normal schools greatly affected women’s role in society by providing a higher education. Women did not have many

privileges during the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. However, when they received the opportunity to be able to become a teacher, these women took full advantage. Female teachers made an admirable accomplishment by attending these normal schools.  With that education, they became professional teachers and became respected by other women, students, and men.

[1] Norton, Arthur O. The Journals of Cyrus Peirce and Mary Swift. London, England: Oxford University Press, 1926.

2 Mann, Horace. Horace Mann Papers: Lectures, sermons, speeches, legal notes.

3 Brown, Robert T. The Rise and Fall of The People’s Colleges: The Westfield Normal School, 1839-1914.

4 Day, John. Twenty-Third Annual School Report of the City of Beverly 1917.

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