The Info List - Dame School

A dame school was an early form of a private elementary school in English-speaking countries. They were usually taught by women and were often located in the home of the teacher.


1 Britain

1.1 Surviving former Dame School buildings

2 North America 3 Australia 4 See also 5 References 6 External links


A dame school; photograph by P. H. Emerson

Before the 1870 Education Act, there was little formal educational provision for working class children in England and Wales.[1] Dames schools were small, private schools run by working class women and occasionally men in their own homes.[1] References to dame schools can be found from the 16th century onward.[2] Dame schools often had a poor reputation and were often seen as a cheap form of daycare.[1] The London inspector of the British and Foreign School Society in 1838 wrote that "in the dame schools they cannot teach reading."[2] Surviving former Dame School buildings[edit]

Orton, Eden, Cumbria[3] Thursley, Surrey (survives as free-standing building in the churchyard)[4] Upper Stratton near Stratton St Margaret, Swindon (survives as residential property)[5] Roche, Cornwall
Roche, Cornwall
(survives as residential property) Chapel Road

North America[edit] In North America, "dame school" is a broad term for a private school with a female teacher during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The education provided by these schools ranged from basic to exceptional.[6] The basic type of dame school was more common in New England, where basic literacy was expected of all classes, than in the southern colonies, where there were fewer educated women willing to be teachers.[7] Motivated by the religious needs of Puritan
society and their own economic needs, some colonial women in 17th century rural New England opened small, private schools in their homes to teach reading and catechism to young children. An education in reading and religion was required for children by the Massachusetts School Law of 1642. This law was later strengthened by the famous Old Deluder Satan Act. According to Puritan
beliefs, Satan would assuredly try to keep people from understanding the Scriptures, therefore it was deemed that all children be taught how to read. Dame schools fulfilled this requirement if parents were unable to educate their young children in their own home. For a small fee, women, often housewives or widows, offered to take in children to whom she would teach a little writing, reading, basic prayers and religious beliefs. These women received "tuition" in coin, home industries, alcohol, baked goods and other valuables. Teaching materials generally included, and often did not exceed, a hornbook, primer, Psalter
and Bible.[8] Both girls and boys were provided education through the dame school system. Dame schools generally focused on the four R's of education-Riting, Reading, Rithmetic, and Religion.[9] In addition to primary education, girls in dame schools might also learn sewing, embroidery, and other "graces".[10] Most girls received their only formal education from dame schools because of sex-segregated education in common or public schools during the colonial period.[11] If their parents could afford it, after attending a dame school for a rudimentary education in reading, colonial boys moved on to grammar schools where a male teacher taught advanced arithmetic, writing, Latin and Greek.[12] In the 18th and 19th centuries, some dame schools offered boys and girls from wealthy families a "polite education". The women running these elite dame schools taught "reading, writing, English, French, arithmetic, music and dancing".[13][14] Schools for upper-class girls were usually called "female seminaries", "finishing schools" etc. rather than "dame schools". Australia[edit] The first known school in Australia
was founded in Sydney in 1789 by Isabella Rossen.[15] The second known school in Australia
was founded by Mary Johnson in Paramatta in 1791.[15] Both women were convicts supervised by clergyman Rev. Richard Johnson.[15] See also[edit]

History of education in the United States Education in the Thirteen Colonies


^ a b c Purvis, June (2008-01-28). Women's History: Britain, 1850-1945: An Introduction. Routledge. ISBN 9781135367107.  ^ a b Cockburn; King; MacDonald. "The Education of the Working Classes to 1870". British History on Line.  ^ Dame School, Orton, Eden, Cumbria ^ getsurrey Administrator (3 August 2006). " Dame school
Dame school
rejuvenated". getsurrey.  ^ Vieve Forward. "19 Green Road, Upper Stratton (C) Vieve Forward :: Geograph Britain and Ireland". geograph.org.uk.  ^ Perlmann, Joel, and Robert Margo. Women's work?: American schoolteachers, 1650-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2001), 9 ^ Tolley, Kimberley. Transformations in schooling: historical and comparative perspectives. New York: Macmillan (2007), 91. ^ Harper, Elizabeth P. "Dame Schools". In Encyclopedia of Educational Reform and Dissent, Thomas Hunt, Thomas Lasley and C D. Raisch, 259-260. SAGE Publications (2010). ^ Ryan, K. R., & Cooper, J. M. C. (2010). Colonial origins. In L. Mafrici (Ed.), Those who can teach (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. ^ Forman-Brunell, Miriam. Girlhood in America: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO (2001), 575. ^ Moss, Hilary J. Schooling citizens: the struggle for African American education in antebellum America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2009), 133. ^ Zhboray, Ronald. A fictive people: antebellum economic development and the American reading public. New York: Oxford University Press (1993), 92. ^ Greene, Jack and Rosemary Brana-Shute, and Randy J. Sparks, eds. Money, Trade and Power: The Evolution of Colonial South Carolina's Plantation Society. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press (2001), 305. ^ Clinton, Catherine. "Dorothea Dix." In The Reader's companion to American history By, Eric Foner and John Arthur, 289. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1991. ^ a b c Peel, Robin; Patterson, Annette Hinman; Gerlach, Jeanne Marcum (2000). Questions of English: Ethics, Aesthetics, Rhetoric, and the Formation of the Subject in England, Australia, and the United States. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780415191197. 

External links[edit]

A Dame's School, photo Peter Henry Emerson (1856-1936) The Dame School by Frederick George Cotman A Dame's School by Thomas Webster The Dame's School by Thomas Faed Dame School - Staffordshire Figures 1780-1840 nps.gov williams