"To Unfold Such Powers": Nineteenth-Century American Women's Rights, Women's Education, and the Founding of Vassar College
By Rebecca Edwards, Professor of History
In 1881, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony sat down to record the history of women's rights activism up to that date, they called their book The History of Woman Suffrage. "The enfranchisement of woman [is] the most important demand of the century," they declared, and they emblazoned volume one with a quotation from the Declaration of Independence: "Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." Stanton and Anthony's emphasis on the ballot has long shaped our understanding of women's rights history. Scholars have claimed that, before 1920, the women's rights movement focused most of its attention on a "single, symbolic issue"--suffrage. Only in the twentieth century (this story goes) did feminists take up a more sweeping array of concerns. 1
Such a narrative overlooks a much wider, messier history of struggle and transformation. Despite its limited title, The History of Woman Suffrage copiously documents women's work on other issues: battles for divorce, custody, and property rights; antislavery and anti-prostitution campaigns; and agitation on what we would call, today, reproductive rights and the problem of marital rape. By 1902, when Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper published volume four of the History, they included a detailed list of marriage laws and gender-based occupational barriers facing women in each state and in many other countries. 2
Stanton and Anthony's claim that, despite these diverse activities, suffrage was women's "most important demand" reflected political circumstances in the 1880s. Over the previous decade, suffrage advocates had discovered the perils of cooperating with flamboyant free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull, and they had endured scathing criticism when they defended two women whose sexual improprieties were broadcast in sensational murder trials. While others agitated for birth control and protested the sexual double standard, Anthony and Stanton distanced themselves from such efforts after the bad publicity of the 1870s. As Stanton put it, they believed Woodhull's arguments had created a "scandalum magnum" and suffrage had "gone down in the smash." 3
During and after Reconstruction, Stanton and Anthony had also turned away from the cause of racial justice. They and other leaders of the National Woman Suffrage Association were furious when the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution granted suffrage irrespective of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" but not on the basis of sex. Stanton lashed out at the enfranchisement of "Sambo" at a time when a "refined, educated" white woman still could not vote. (She said little about black women.) Though they used more temperate language, rival activists in the American Woman Suffrage Association also gradually gave up the fight for African-American rights. By the time the two groups merged in 1890, their combined strategy was clear. Seeking to attract white Southerners to the suffrage cause, they said nothing about segregation or disfranchisement (Stanton, in fact, warmly supported educational restrictions on suffrage) and they ignored the anti-lynching campaign of African American journalist Ida B. Wells. 4
But the editors of the History of Woman Suffrage downplayed another set of issues for opposite reasons: not because they were too controversial, but because they had become accepted--even obvious. Chief among these was women's education. Back in 1848, in the Declaration of Sentiments issued at Seneca Falls, Stanton had observed that woman lacked "the facilities for obtaining a thorough education, all colleges being closed against her." Statistics supported her claim. Out of 119 colleges in the United States, only two admitted women; among the roughly 7,000 Americans enrolled in law, medical, or divinity school, the number of women was zero. 5
Nonetheless, when the Seneca Falls convention met, a revolution in women's education had already begun. American boys and girls were attending school in roughly equal numbers. By 1850, census-takers proudly reported that school enrollment was higher per capita in the United States than in any European country except Denmark, even if one included slaves in the U.S. population count. Though 13 percent of adult white women were illiterate--double the rate for men--the gap was closing in younger generations. (Illiteracy rates for free black men and women were much higher--respectively, 40 and 43 percent--but were also falling.) Widespread primary schooling generated, in turn, pressure to provide wider access to higher education for women as well as men. In 1827, domestic advice writer Catharine Beecher observed, "public sentiment has advanced so much on the subject of female culture that a course of study very similar to that pursued by young men in our public institutions is demanded for young ladies of the higher circles." 6
The roots of this extraordinary development lay in the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on science and reason. In 1673, French philosopher François Poulain de la Barre declared, "L'Esprit n'a point de Sexe" ("the mind has no sex"). Over the following quarter-century, such English thinkers as John Locke and Mary Astell also proposed that women and men had equal intellectual potential. By the eighteenth-century, some commentators not only called for women's education but also held up historical examples of female intelligence and leadership. Such views were popularized through works such as William Alexander's History of Women, published in 1779 in London, and American successors such as Lydia Maria Child's History of the Condition of Women, in Various Ages and Nations (1835). "The history of women," asserted one Connecticut author, "is forever intruding on our unwilling eyes, bold and ardent spirits, who no tyrant could tame, no prejudice enslave." 7
The most famous Enlightenment advocate of women's equality was Englishwoman Mary Wollstonecraft, whose Vindication of the Rights of Woman appeared in 1792. Attracting widespread attention, the tract went through three American editions before 1796. Responding to a French plan to implement universal (male) public education, Wollstonecraft argued that human betterment required both men and women to cultivate their minds and pursue knowledge. Drawing on the ideas of French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, Wollstonecraft declared, "It is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of its own reason. This was Rousseau's opinion respecting men: I extend it to women." 8
The makers of American Revolution, of course, sought to give concrete political form to Enlightenment ideas. When Americans began to buy Wollstonecraft's tract and debate her ideas, the United States was enjoying its first heady years as a new republic. Though many Americans found Wollstonecraft's ideas shocking, the term "women's rights" came into popular use after Vindication was published. In the post-Revolutionary years, many commentators called for education to prepare female citizens for "republican womanhood." Prominent author Judith Sargent Murray pressed claims for women's civic role, predicting that the Revolution would usher in "a new era in female history." In 1794, the valedictorian of Philadelphia's Young Ladies' Academy asserted that "the proper direction of the female mind" was "of the utmost importance to our country." 9
In the half-century after the Revolution, female seminaries and academies sprang up in all parts of the United States. Some, such as Connecticut's Litchfield Female Academy and Emma Willard's seminary in Troy, New York, won national fame. Dozens of local institutions included Salem Academy, founded by Moravians in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1785); Western Female Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio (1833); and Milwaukee Female College (1850). As these examples show, women's schools expanded rapidly from the Northeast into the Midwest. While the South's educational system was far less developed, South Carolina boasted several thriving institutions, and Matthew Vassar's later associate, Milo P. Jewett, founded Alabama's Judson Female Institute in 1839. Two Southern schools--Georgia Female College and Mary Sharp College in Tennessee--were among the first to offer courses comparable to those at liberal arts colleges for men. 10
Catholic educators also joined the vanguard. As early as 1820, various female religious orders operated ten convent schools in the United States, a number that quadrupled by 1840 and grew to over 200 by 1860. (Catharine Beecher, in fact, complained that Protestant women got far less support from their male counterparts than nuns received from "bishops, priests, [and] Jesuits.") Despite fierce hostility toward Catholicism in some quarters, prosperous Protestant and Jewish families often sent their daughters to such schools. Like their counterparts at other academies, convent students sought to master the era's most essential democratic skill, the practice of rhetoric, and most were required to engage in public speaking. 11
In comparison with men's schools, female academies placed a striking emphasis on mathematics and natural sciences, usually offering botany, anatomy, physics, chemistry, and by the 1860s, geometry and algebra. Curricula varied, however, on the basis of clientele. Schools that served daughters from the wealthiest families continued to require "domestic arts" as well as art and music, preparing young women to become both practical and ornamental wives for affluent husbands. Mary Lyon, however, founder of the influential Mt. Holyoke Seminary, focused not on the elite but on farmers' daughters, whom she fondly referred to as "calico girls." At Mt. Holyoke, housekeeping was not a course of study but a required extracurricular activity that kept costs down and made tuition affordable. In comparison to Catharine Beecher, who cultivated elite sponsorship and stressed domesticity as a pedagogical goal, Mary Lyon viewed cooperative housekeeping as a practical way for young women of modest means to support themselves while they studied. Mt. Holyoke's curriculum began to look much like the modern liberal arts. 12
The founding of Vassar College, then, was part of an accelerating national trend. Matthew Vassar said as much in his first address to the Board of Trustees. "For the last thirty years," he observed, "the standard of education for the sex has been constantly rising in the United States; and the great, felt, pressing want has been ample endowments, to secure to Female Seminaries the elevated character, the stability and permanency of our best Colleges." Clearly aware that other women's colleges were struggling, Vassar emphasized that his school was "fully endowed." His support enabled the College's founders to model their curriculum largely on that of Mary Lyon--while dispensing with the cooperative housekeeping that made Mt. Holyoke affordable. Thus Vassar offered modern liberal arts to elite women, in a setting that reflected hybrid influences. (The new College, one historian observes, combined "the physical structure of a charity hospital, the façade of a French palace, the curriculum of a college, and the governance of a seminary.") 13
"Woman," Vassar went on, "having received from her Creator the same intellectual constitution as man, has the same right as man to intellectual culture and development." Such a statement, radical in the days of Mary Wollstonecraft, was becoming mainstream by 1861. Then, however, Vassar ventured onto trickier ground. "If women were properly educated," he said, "some new avenues to useful and honorable employment, in entire harmony with the gentleness and modesty of her sex, might be opened to her." 14
This was a most vexing question: despite rising acceptance of female education, there was no agreement on which employments women might pursue, and which would compromise their "gentleness and modesty." In the rural world of early America, women's productive labor (and elite women's oversight of such labor) had been central to the household economy. In an era of industrialization, economic diversification, and urban growth, women's work was being transformed. As more and more men worked outside the home, women's work in the home became largely invisible--even when paid, as in the case of tens of thousands of women who balanced their families' budgets by taking in boarders. Meanwhile, the existence of new employment opportunities for women outside the home--for example, in textile millwork--rested on the practice of paying women half as much as men. 15
Educators such as Beecher and Lyon focused heavily on preparing women for teaching, one of the most promising avenues of employment, but here, again, issues of pay came to the fore. (Lyon made Mt. Holyoke affordable, in part, by paying very low wages to female instructors; most public school systems used the same strategy to expand while accommodating pressure for low taxes.) It is hardly surprising, then, that women's rights advocates of the 1840s and 1850s placed increasing emphasis on equal pay, property rights, and access to remunerative work. In the Seneca Falls declaration, Stanton's protest against the educational exclusion of woman was preceded by this sentence: "[Man] has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments [and] closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction which he considers most honorable to himself." 16
The same emphasis on professional opportunity figured in the decade's other great feminist text, Margaret Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845). Like Stanton at Seneca Falls, Fuller grounded her essay in the ideas of the Declaration of Independence and advanced a sweeping vision of women's emancipation in which suffrage played only a limited role. Fuller denounced married wives' lack of control over their own bodies and property and denounced prostitution as a form of slavery. She rejected the idea that women should be educated to "become better companions and mothers for men." "A being of infinite scope," she declared, "must not be treated with an exclusive view to any one relation. Give the soul free course." Famously, Fuller refused to place limits on the work women might do. "If you ask me what offices they may fill," she wrote, "I reply--any. I do not care what case you put; let them be sea-captains, if you will. I do not doubt there are women well fitted for such an office, and if so, I should be glad to see them in it." 17
Fuller herself, who found employment as a reporter, editor, and literary critic as well as a teacher of both children and adults, represented women's entry into a particular type of work: as writers and intellectuals. By the time of the Civil War, women were not only becoming prominent authors of fiction and non-fiction but also paid lecturers on the lyceum circuit. 18 They claimed a place in such fields, in part, because of the absence of formal barriers of the kind that existed in law, medicine, and theology. But the roots of women's intellectual work also lay deep in the ideas of the Enlightenment. Adhering firmly to Poulain's dictum, nineteenth-century women could set aside thorny questions about physical and reproductive difference and insist, "the mind has no sex."
The conditions under which women pursued such work were, of course, another matter. The plight of authors who faced competing intellectual and household duties were depicted with wry humor by Sara Willis Parton ("Fanny Fern"), who wrote a popular newspaper column in the 1850s. Parton's description of a writer trying to finish a short story in her kitchen may sound familiar to busy parents today:
Let me see; where did I leave off? The setting sun was just gilding with his last ray--"Ma, I want some bread and molasses"--(yes, dear,) gilding with his last ray the church spire--"Wife, where's my Sunday pants?" (Under the bed, dear,) the church spire of Inverness, . . . when a horseman was seen approaching . . . and waving in his hand a banner, on which was written--"Ma! I've torn my pantaloons"--liberty or death! The inhabitants rushed en masse--"Wife? WILL you leave off scribbling?" (Don't be disagreeable, Smith, I'm just getting inspired,) to the public square, where DeBegnis, who had been secretly--"Butcher wants to see you, ma'am"--secretly informed of the traitors' --"forgot which you said, ma'am, sausages or mutton chop"--movements, gave orders to fire. . . .My Gracious! Smith, . . . that boy of YOURS has torn up the first sheet of my manuscript. There! it's no use for a married woman to cultivate her intellect.--Smith, hand me those twins. 19
Yet in spite of formidable obstacles to what Stanton called "the profitable employments," especially for those seeking to enter the traditional professions, nineteenth-century women's education was a remarkable success story. In 1870, only a decade after Vassar's founding, the United States had almost 70 women's colleges; by 1890 the number tripled to over 210. The same decades brought an equally dramatic, if less celebrated, revolution in coeducation. As early as the 1850s, the University of Deseret (later University of Utah) began to admit women, followed by the University of Iowa in 1855. By 1870 seven other state universities (Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, and California) admitted women. At the same time, in the wake of the Civil War, Reconstruction brought higher education to African Americans in the South. Most of the new black colleges, such as Fisk and Howard, were coeducational, often by financial necessity; one, Spelman, served women only. Such projects call attention to the critical role of federal and state governments, as well as private philanthropists, in the expansion of American higher education. 20
Nonetheless, despite these initiatives--and in spite of women's increasing entry into social work, law, medicine, and other professions--only about 3 percent of 18-to-21 year old women were attending college by 1900. 21 Many were all too aware that higher education was not addressing the economic injustices wrought by rapid industrialization, and some sought to use their educations to address such problems. Among Vassar's early graduates, a few became famous for such work; Julia Lathrop, for example, joined the social settlement movement, created the nation's first juvenile court system in Chicago, and eventually headed the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. Dozens of others, largely forgotten today, devoted themselves to local-level reform. Records of the class of 1874, alone, suggest the scope of their activities. Frances Fisher started a non-profit dairy farm in New Jersey to provide safe, sterilized milk to mothers and infants in New York City. Dr. Juliet Cornelia Monroe founded a free medical dispensary at the Presbyterian Women's and Children's Hospital in Cincinnati. Lucretia Stow, who sharply reduced infant mortality rates as head of Connecticut's Public Health Nursing Association, also led a campaign to improve the state's rural schools. Annie Gertrude Howes worked in Rhode Island for women's suffrage, public kindergartens, and laws against child labor. 22
Despite the hardening racial climate of the post-Reconstruction years, a few Vassar alumnae pursued such efforts across lines of race. Classmates of Sutematsu (Yamakawa) Oyama '82, the first Japanese woman to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree, raised funds for the girls' school she sponsored in Tokyo; at least one moved to Japan to teach. After graduating from Vassar in 1878, Jennie Davis moved to Virginia and became managing editor of the Southern Workman, newspaper of the Hampton Institute. In its pages, she reported on the activities of the school's African American and American Indian students and publicized the work of Hampton alumni. Marie E. Ives, who graduated with Davis in 1878, became a leader in the Women's National Indian Association and editor of its journal, The Indian's Friend. In its pages, the WNIA strenuously protested violence against native peoples and theft of their traditional lands. 23
The results of such efforts were complex, and not always positive: the zeal of elite reformers and missionaries, both at home and abroad, was suffused with racial condescension. Nonetheless, in an era when the suffrage cause was becoming what one historian aptly calls a movement for "white women's rights," the work of Davis, Ives, and other such reformers represents an alternative path. The WNIA, for example, raised funds to help young Indian couples purchase and build homes, and advocated both education--a complex instrument of assimilation and "uplift"--and paid, professional work for Native American women. The Indian's Friend denounced the idea that "Indian girls differ fundamentally from girls of any other race." 24
Looking beyond suffrage as "the most important demand of the century," then, helps us understand the nineteenth-century women's rights movement in all its complexity. Historian Gerda Lerner has suggested that early feminists had dual goals: not only women's rights--the basic claim to political equality--but also women's emancipation, which meant "self-determination and autonomy." 25 Such freedom, of course, depended in part on education. "What woman needs," wrote Margaret Fuller, "is not as a woman to act or rule, but as a nature to grow, as an intellect to discern, as a soul to live freely and unimpeded, to unfold such powers as were given her when we left our common home." Women could then take their place "in the world of mind" with a "dignified sense of self-dependence." 26 Despite its profound limits at Vassar and beyond, the rise of women's higher education helped women begin to fulfill the promise of that emancipation.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vols. 1-2 (New York: Fowler & Wells, 1881), 7; Sara M. Evans, Tidal Wave: How Women Changed America at Century's End (New York: Free Press, 2003), 1.
- Stanton, Anthony, and Gage, History of Woman Suffrage, vols. 1-2; Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper, History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4 (Rochester, NY: n.p., 1902).
- Barbara Goldsmith, Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (New York: Knopf, 1998), quote, 427; on conflicts between suffragists and sex radicals see also Joanne E. Passet, Sex Radicals and the Quest for Women's Equality (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003), ch. 4-5. Stanton was more willing than Anthony to continue defending Woodhull and to explore other risky issues, such as those raised by her controversial Woman's Bible; on the considerable tensions between Anthony and Stanton see Lori D. Ginzberg's nuanced account, Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life (New York: Hill and Wang, 2009).
- Ginzberg, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, quote on 122; Ellen Carol DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women's Movement in America, 1848-1869 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1978); on Wells see Paula J. Giddings, Ida: A Sword Among Lions (New York: HarperCollins, 2008); on race and suffrage, Louise M. Newman, White Women's Rights: The Racial Origins of Feminism in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).
- "Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions," in Ellen Carol DuBois and Lynn Dumenil, Through Women's Eyes: An American History with Documents, 2nd ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2009), A-19; Statistical View of the United States (Washington, A.O.P. Nicholson, 1854), 145, 55, 69.
- Statistical View of the United States, 148-150; Kathryn Kish Sklar, Catharine Beecher: A Study in American Domesticity (New York: W.W. Norton, 1976), 76.
- Rosemarie Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 3-4, 12-19, quotation on 16; Mary Kelley, Learning to Stand and Speak: Women, Education, and Public Life in America's Republic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), ch. 6. On Poulain and his dictum see Siep Stuurman, "Social Cartesianism: François Poulain de la Barre and the Origins of the Enlightenment," Journal of the History of Ideas 58.4 (1997): 617-640, quote on 625.
- Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman , ed. Carol H. Poston (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975), quotes, 11-12, 21; on the book's reception see Poston's introduction, vii, and Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash, 4-5, 40-44.
- Zagarri, Revolutionary Backlash; Linda Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980); Lucia McMahon, "'Of the Utmost Importance to Our Country': Women, Education, and Society, 1780-1820," Journal of the Early Republic 29.3 (Fall 2009): 475-506.
- Andrea L. Turpin, "The Ideological Origins of the Women's College: Religion, Class, and Curriculum in the Educational Visions of Catharine Beecher and Mary Lyon," History of Education Quarterly 50.2 (May 2010): 133-158.
- Carol K. Coburn and Martha Smith, Spirited Lives: How Nuns Shaped Catholic Culture and American Life, 1836-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), ch. 6, Beecher quoted on 163; Charles W. Sanders, Sanders' Young Ladies' Reader (New York: Ivison, Phinney, Blakeman, 1866), iv. On the significance of public speaking see Kenneth Cmiel, Democratic Eloquence: The Fight Over Popular Speech in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Morrow, 1990).
- Margaret Nash, Women's Education in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 2005); Kimberley Tolley, The Science Education of American Girls (New York: Routledge, 2003); Turpin, "The Ideological Origins of the Women's College."
- Matthew Vassar, "Statement to the Board of Trustees, 26 February 1861," Matthew Vassar Papers, Special Collections Library, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York. On the founding of Vassar see Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984), and Turpin, "The Ideological Origins of the Women's College"; quote is from Turpin, summarizing Horowitz, 154.
- Vassar, "Statement to the Board of Trustees."
- Jeanne Boydston, Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Cindy S. Aron, "The Evolution of the Middle Class," in William L. Barney, ed., A Companion to 19th-Century America (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2001), 178-191; Catherine Kelly, "Gender and Class Formation in the Antebellum North," in Nancy A. Hewitt, ed., A Companion to American Women's History (Malden, Mass: Blackwell, 2002), 100-116; Amy Dru Stanley, "Marriage, Property, and Class," in Hewitt, Companion to American Women's History, 193-205.
- "Declaration of Sentiments," A-16; Nancy Isenberg, Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).
- Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century , excerpted in Eve Kornfeld, Margaret Fuller: A Brief Biography with Documents (Boston: Bedford, 1997), 161-163, 173-177, 180, 188. On Fuller see also Charles Capper's two-volume biography, Margaret Fuller: An American Romantic Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992-2007). On international connections among early feminists see Bonnie S. Anderson, Joyous Greetings: The First International Women's Rights Movement, 1830-1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
- Angela G. Ray, The Lyceum and Public Culture in the Nineteenth-Century United States (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2005); Lisa Tetrault, "The Incorporation of American Feminism: Suffragists and the Postbellum Lyceum," Journal of American History 96 (March 2010):1027-1056.
- Sara Willis Parton, "'Mrs. Adolphus Smith Sporting the 'Blue Stocking,'" in Redressing the Balance: American Women's Literary Humor from Colonial Times to the 1980s, ed. Nancy Walker and Zita Dresner (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1988), 49-50.
- Barbara Miller Solomon, In the Company of Educated Women: A History of Women and Higher Education in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), ch. 4 and 5, statistics on 44, 53, 63-64; Lynn D. Gordon, Gender and Higher Education in the Progressive Era (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990); see also Gordon's overview of recent historiography, "Education and the Professions," in Hewitt, Companion to American Women's History, 227-249.
- Solomon, In the Company of Educated Women, 64.
- Agnes E. Bigelow, Souvenir of the Fiftieth Reunion of Vassar College '74 (Worcester, Mass.: Davis Press, 1928), 49-50, 56-57, 69-70, 84-87, Alumni Files, Special Collections, Vassar College Library.
- Georgiana Lea Morrill, Records of the Class of '82, 1882-1902, and n.a., "'78 Class History," typescript, both in Alumni Files, Special Collections, Vassar College Library; on the work of the Women's National Indian Association see Peggy Pascoe, Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) and Jane E. Simonsen, Making Home Work: Domesticity and Native American Assimilation in the American West, 1860-1919 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).
- Indian's Friend in Pascoe, Relations of Rescue, 115; Simonsen, Making Home Work, 73-103.
- Gerda Lerner, "The Meaning of Seneca Falls, 1848-1998," Dissent (Fall 1998): 35-41.
- Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, 165-166.