New York: Charles Scribner, 1859. First edition. Original publisher's cloth binding stamped in gilt and blind. Faint spotting to boards and gentle fraying to extremities, mostly concentrated to the crown of the spine and upper front corner. Binding tight and square. Buff endpapers. Collating xxix, [1, blank], 31-363, [1, blank]: complete. Some staining to pages 312-313 and small marginal stains to pages 349-363, else a surprisingly fresh and clean copy without the typical foxing of the era. Inscribed on the front endpaper by the author in the year of publication: "To one of my earliest pupils, Mrs. Martha White Gilbert, with ever affectionate remembrance of Almira H. L. Phelps. Baltimore, MD Oct. 10, 1859." A scarce book institutionally and in trade, it does not appear in the modern auction record and is the only copy currently on the market. A testament to Phelps' lifelong dedication to women's education, the present copy was given to one of the first girls she ever taught. A meaningful association.
A pioneer in American women's education, Almira Phelps began her career tutoring students of the all-male Middlebury College in science, mathematics, and philosophy. "This experience illustrated the disparity between education available for men and for women, and Almira spent the rest of her life fighting for more educational opportunities for females" (History of American Women). Joining forces with her sister Emma Willard, the founder of the Troy Female Seminary in New York, Phelps began to teach rigorous humanities and science courses in addition to lecturing publicly on behalf of women's rights for equal education. Phelps established herself as a frontrunner in the field, publishing ten books on the education of women. The present, Hours with my Pupils, came after decades of experience as she reached the pinnacle of her career. "In 1841, Phelps received an invitation...to take charge of the Patapsco Female Institute, in Ellicott's Mills, Maryland. Phelps became principal and her husband was the business manager of the Institute, which soon attained a great reputation due to its high academic standards. Ever a proponent for the betterment of the education of young girls, Phelps focused on creating a curriculum...designed in particular to train highly qualified teachers" (Dictionary of Early American Philosophers). Retiring in 1855 and settling in Baltimore, Phelps continued her work by publishing activist pieces in national periodicals and books like this. A collection of educational addresses from throughout her career, Phelps expresses optimism about what her work can still accomplish: "Go then, ye written thoughts, speed your way to the hearts of the women of my country...teach them the worth of their own souls!"
Ogilvie's Women in Science 147. History of American Women. Near Fine (Item #3483)