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Willard, Emma) Henshaw, Eliza.

Manuscript Geography, Middlebury Female Seminary.


The Dawn of Higher Education for Women,
the Wellspring of the Woman's Rights Movement
[Education]. (Willard, Emma). Henshaw, Eliza H. Manuscript Geographical Lesson Book. Middlebury, Vermont, 1816.
Folio; original tan wrappers; 40 pp., 1 diagram, 15 manuscript maps.
A manuscript geography book compiled by one of the first few women in America to receive a higher education under the tutelage of pioneer educator Emma Willard. Inscribed in ink on the inside of the front cover is Eliza H. Henshaw at Mrs Willard's school, 1816. In the spring of 1814, Emma Willard (1787-1870) founded in her home in Middlebury, Vermont the Middlebury Female Seminary. Keenly aware of the disparity between education for men and women, and determined to prove that women were equally capable of mastering the subjects studied by men, Willard began teaching her students the same subjects studied by her nephew, a student at nearby Middlebury College. In this she proved highly successful, ultimately presenting a plan for the education of women to Governor DeWitt Clinton of New York, founding the Troy Female Seminary, and spawning a movement that brought higher education to women throughout America and even abroad. Among the women who were educated at the Troy Female Seminary was Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
This manuscript geography is a rare document intimately connected with a seminal moment in the history of woman's rights. Well organized and written, and highly detailed, it clearly reflects not only the unusual rigor of Emma Willard's teaching, but most particularly the innovative system of geographical instruction that she was developing at the time, and which was later embodied in the geography text-books she co-authored with William G. Woodbridge. It includes an introduction, sections on the solar system, geographical theorems, heat and cold, winds, gravity, tides, fossils (minerals and metals), a table of population, a table of mountains, and maps of Hindoostan, Persia, Turkey in Asia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Holland, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, and Turkey in Europe. Each map occupies approximately half a page and the other half is devoted to a detailed description of the country or countries portrayed.
Eliza (or Elizabeth) Hallum Henshaw was born in 1795, the daughter of Daniel and Sarah Esther Henshaw of Connecticut, later of Middlebury. According to Willard, as quoted by Samuel Swift in his History of the Town of Middlebury, Eliza Henshaw was her first student of Intellectual Philosophy, John Locke providing the text. The name of Eliza's younger sister Catherine Mary Henshaw is inscribed on the front cover, suggesting that Eliza passed her geographical text on to her sister for study. An extraordinary survival with considerable symbolic significance.
Emma Willard : Daughter of Democracy, by Alma Lutz, Boston & NY, Houghton Mifflin, 1929. Emma Willard : Pioneer Educator of American Women, by Alma Lutz, Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.     
The History of the Town of Middlebury, by Samuel Swift,  Middlebury: A.H. Copeland, 1859, pp. 392-397.

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