Vermont Women in the 19th century
During the 19th century in Vermont, women juggled domestic responsibilities with changing expectations about womanhood. While some experienced new freedom working outside the home, all Vermont women faced challenges arising from changing workforces, markets, and ideas about womanhood.
Two ideals in particular informed the lives of American women in the 1800s:
- "Republican Motherhood" was expressed in the idea that women could be important to the new country by raising good citizens and being capable helpmeets to their husbands.
- "True Womanhood" was expressed in the idea that women should develop, through natural instinct, education, and religion, their domestic skills and "feminine" sympathies to influence the home sphere towards harmony and morality.
Both of these concepts exerted powerful idealistic pressure on women throughout the 19th century, creating contradictions for those who could not or did not want to embody them. At the same time, they lent weight to the argument for education of females, and thus supported later movements for women’s rights.
For a more detailed treatment of this topic by a Vermont historian, click here.