Portraying Lives

Headmistresses and Women Professors 1880s-1940s

Tanya Fitzgerald, La Trobe Univ
Josephine May, University of Newcastle

Published 2016

The expansion of women’s higher education in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Australia and New Zealand offered educated women opportunities to broaden their aspirations, horizons and experiences across many professional fields. Engaged in the public activity of teaching in a range of educational institutions, women were able to exercise a level of professional expertise, authority and independence. Paradoxically, women were both empowered by the possibilities of educational careers yet at the same time restricted by the historical era in which they lived and the feminized positions they occupied. In this book, we draw on Sarah Lawrence–Lightfoot and Jessica Hoffmann Davis’ methodological adoption of the use of portraits and portraiture to frame our history of women educators and highlight their unsettled acceptance of contemporary constraints and pressures exerted on educated women. This book will be essential reading for those involved or interested in the historiography of women’s education, women teachers and headmistresses, women’s higher education, educational biography and visual methodologies. This book will also be of particular relevance to those engaged in the study of history, sociology, women and gender studies, teacher education, educational research, and history of education.

Preface. Acknowledgements. CHAPTER 1. Framing Women’s Lives, Tanya Fitzgerald, Josephine May. CHAPTER 2. Portraits of Past Lives, Josephine May. CHAPTER 3. Leading Women, Josephine May. CHAPTER 4. Circles of Relationships, Josephine May. CHAPTER 5. Networks and Friendships, Tanya Fitzgerald. CHAPTER 6. Commemorating a Life, Tanya Fitzgerald. CHAPTER 7. Portraits of Women’s Educational Histories, Tanya Fitzgerald, Josephine May. References. Archival References. About the Authors.

"Throughout Portraying Lives, Fitzgerald and May directly confront the gendered nature of archival documents in a wide variety of ways; but rather than abandon such artifacts, they insist that the “archive cannot be bypassed: it must be negotiated and disrupted” (p. 111). To this end, Fitzgerald and May’s slim volume offers a well-curated collection of ways to quietly disrupt the patriarchal archive on which our prior historical understandings have been based. " Jackie M. Blount Ohio State University in Teachers College Record (Read full review)

"Tanya Fitzgerald and Josephine May have written a convincing book on women pioneers in education. The successful adoption of the portrait and portraiture methodology informs readers about the experience of the subject discussed and at the same time guides them to explore their own perspectives, thus educating them to study other sources with the same ‘messiness’ in mind. In addition to scholars studying women and education history, this book is helpful to those who wish to learn about mobile women and are interested in how transnational professional networks offer support. The engaging framework provided will be useful for exploring women in other occupations as well." Y. H. Phoebe Tang University of Hong Kong in History of Education (Read full review)