Contemporary Issues in Feminist Research: Fall 2018

Snowy campus shot of the little school house

Jacki Hedlund Tyler, PhD, Director of Social Studies Education and Assistant Professor of History presents “A Woman’s Space: School Boards in the Nineteenth Century West.” The event will be held on Nov. 7 from noon to 12:50 p.m. in 207 Monroe Hall.

Holding a school board position and voting in school elections was an important role for women in the nineteenth-century American West, but did they participate in a “domestic” or “political” space? Described by male peers as moral leaders of their households, western women extended their socially acceptable talent of raising children to the teaching profession and to governing bodies of education. Presumably, then, women’s participation on school boards and voting in school elections took place within an environment that did not challenge the gendered division between the home/private and the public. But it would be incomplete to view these roles and women’s desires to vote in school elections as well as serve on school boards as merely taking place within the extension of the home. Over the course of the century groups of western women had sought a space to act as political participants. As school board members, women asserted gendered definitions of family authority and challenged political perceptions of suffrage, inheritance, education, and the legal understanding of “head-of-household.”