Celeste Parrish and Educational Reform in the Progressive-Era South

Rebecca S. Montgomery

ca. 24,56
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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Geschichte


Celeste Parrish and Educational Reform in the Progressive-Era South follows a Civil War orphan's transformation from a Southside Virginia public school teacher to a nationally known progressive educator and feminist. In this vital intellectual biography, Rebecca S. Montgomery places feminism and gender at the center of her analysis and offers a new look at the postbellum movement for southern educational reform through the life of Celeste Parrish.Because Parrish's life coincided with critical years in the destruction and reconstruction of the southern social order, her biography provides unique opportunities to explore the links between southern nationalism, reactionary racism, and gender discrimination. Parrish's pursuit of higher education and a professional career pitted her against male opponents of coeducation who regarded female and black dependency as central to southern regional distinctiveness. When coupled with women's lack of formal political power, this resistance to gender equality discouraged progress and lowered the quality of public education throughout the South.The marginalization of women within the reform movement, headed by the Conference for Education in the South, further limited women's contributions to regional change. Although men welcomed female participation in grassroots organization, much of women's work was segregated in female networks and received less public acknowledgement than the reform work conducted by men. Despite receiving little credit for their accomplishments, by working on the margins, women were able to use the southern movement and its philanthropic sponsors as alternate sources of influence and power.By exploring the consequences of gender discrimination for both educational reform and the influence of southern progressivism, Rebecca S. Montgomery contributes a nuanced understanding of how interlocking hierarchies of power structured opportunity and influenced the shape of reform in the U.S. South.

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