Washington: Government Printing Office, 1892. First edition. Listed on the front wrap as Bureau of Education Circular of Information NO. 1, 1892. Original printed wrappers with some minor chipping and paper loss, and with significant loss to crown and foot of spine. Front wrap loose at base but holding. Contemporary handwritten label on spine "Southern Women in Education." Two early ownership stamps to front wrapper and title page read "Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland OH" and "Compliments of Vincent A. Taylor, MC." Internally tight and pleasing, with the usual toning found in imprints of this era. While OCLC shows wide digital access to the text, only 3 institutions report the first edition in hardcopy.
Rich with charts and statistics, Mayo's account of Southern education focuses in detail on women's role as educators and students in the decades following the Civil War. The report opens with information on "Schools for the Education of Southern White Girls," addressing the previous dearth of school access to girls of the region and articulating the curriculum that has developed following emancipation and in the struggle toward suffrage. Schools were to promote the idea that the new "national constitutional amendment [is] an ideal to be gradually realized" (a tacit justification here for the separation of white girls from their African American peers). For this category of student, the schools were also encouraged to focus on industrial skills and the creation of a new and advanced class of working Southerners, as well as the encouragement of women to take on new domestic responsibilites to support their families because "financial wreck of civil war [was] equivalent to reduction of supeior class to poverty." Notably, girls and women of the region were to be praised for their contributions -- the "heroic efforts of Southern women in rebuilding home life" while men of their generation struck out, often going North, to try to rebuild their fortunes. As the report continues, it also addresses the education of freed peoples as "the most memorable [movement] in modern history--a service of Southern people in giving freedmen the common schools" while acknowledging that the "path of school education is still a 'steep and rugged way' for majority of Southern youth--A full third of Southern children of legal school age are still outside school opportunities." The deeper one reads into the report, the more complex a view one gains of the South's struggles to redefine itself compared to the North in its views on gender, race, class, dialect, educational access, and job accessibility. Many of the systemic issues from before the war remain, as do hints of what would become a Jim Crow South, resistant as well to the idea of women's suffrage except insofar as it supported a more white-dominant electorate. At the same time, signs of progress also abound, and much of the praise and responsibility for it falls upon women and the rising generation of African Americans building lives in a freer nation. Very Good + (Item #2728)