Speaking of men vs. women teachers, here's an interesting tidbit from the memoirs of a male school teacher from Massachusetts, William Andrus Alcott, which he called Confessions of a School Master, and published in 1839. He's speaking here of when he was a young man, just starting out teaching school, some twenty years prior, so this would be referring to about 1819 or so. On page 136 he says,
"Thus far, I had only taught school for a term of three or four months of each winter. In the summer -- as the custom was -- my schools fell into the hands of female teachers, while I labored at some other employment, usually on the farm.
But I was now 24 years of age; and no occupation was determined on for life. It was idle to think of spending my time as I had done, divided among so many various employments. I wished to devote myself, for life, to keeping school; but what encouragement had I to do so? Few districts employed male teachers, except in winter; and in those which did, I was entirely unacquainted.
There was a district near the one in which I had been employed for three out of four winters, which was somewhat large and wealthy, although the people had never been accustomed to employ in the summer, any other than a female teacher. It occurred to me one day, that I might possibly take charge of that school for a year, if I might accept a very moderate compensation.
On conversing with one or two of my friends, who resided in the district, and stating with great frankness my object, they seemed gratified with the proposal, and promised to do what they could to have me employed. In regard to terms, however, they could not, they said, give much encouragement. I assured them that, for one year, the terms would not be a principal object. That I must be paid something, to be sure; but as I was partially a stranger and they unaccustomed to the plan of hiring a male teacher in summer, I would accept of almost any compensation they would propose."
If anyone would like to read the book, it's available free online at Google Books http://tinyurl.com/yhvmeva.
I found it very, very interesting. You really get the inside scoop of teaching school in New England during the first half of the 19th century. I think my favorite line in the book is this one, from page 234, speaking of what he found on his first day at a certain new school: "The number of pupils was about forty; and they were of all ages, from three to twenty." Isn't that something? (In another school he speaks of having sixty students at a time, but the age spread wasn't as big.)
] On Behalf Of Fay H Stone
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 2010 10:23 PM
Subject: [oneroom] Teacher contracts
I think that we may be overlooking the fact that prior to the dates mentioned,(WWI) most of the rural teachers were MEN. The old school Master. It wasn't universal, and the Ma'am schools were the very earliest, but because early schools often had different time terms (Boys in mid winter when they could be spared, girls in summer to be kept occupied when women were busiest) men were often preferred to keep order with half grown male youth.
Marriage wasn't an issue then because it was considered an honorable job for a man, while a woman who became married had another source of support and could (should) be replaced by a man with a family. By WWII, any warm body was approvable, since there was a real shortage.
This is my opinion from my research. Fay Stone
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