High School Unit II

Activity 2: Advocates for Female Education

Have students read the four related Mass Moments and Documents HS II-3, HS II-4, HS II-5, and HS II-6. This activity can be done by dividing students into small groups and making each group responsible for one of the key figures. After students have answered the questions on the documents, discuss the following questions:

  1. What obstacles did women such as Mary Lyons, Sophia Smith, Ellen Swallow, and Alice Freeman face in their efforts to improve higher education for young women? Why did these obstacles exist? Which if any of them still exist today?
  2. What strategies did these women use to overcome the obstacles they faced? What arguments did they employ? Why were these strategies/arguments necessary?
  3. How were the paths the four women took to expand educational opportunities for women similar? How were they different? What accounts for the differences and similarities?
  4. The Rev. John Greene and his wife were instrumental in helping Sophia Smith prepare her will endowing Smith College. John Green was a trustee of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and his wife had attended the school. A Mount Holyoke trustee founded Wellesley College, and the college’s first president was a Mount Holyoke graduate. Why are these facts significant?