Towards the emancipation. The Breslau Association for the Education of Women with the intention to Support their Ability to Earn (1866-1916)

Teresa Kulak
Original title: Na drodze do emancypacji. Działalność wrocławskiego stowarzyszenia na rzecz kształcenia kobiet dla wspierania ich zdolności zarobkowania (1866–1916)
Śląski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobótka 2010

The author presents the activity of the Breslau Association for Educating of Women with the intention to Support their Ability to Earn (Frauenbildungs-Verein zur Förderung der Erwerbsfähigkeit), was a socially important initiative of women from the city elite. The purpose of the association, founded on the 5th of February, 1866, was to create an institutional system of professional education for girls and women from the local society. Indigent girls after graduating from primary schools (from the age of 14), within the program of extra education (Fortbildungsschule) were prepared to practice many professions – both traditional ones of cook or washerwoman, and new ones as typesetter, shoemaker, tailor, photographer. Extra courses were provided for women from the age of 18, who graduated from secondary schools for girls (Höhere Mädchenschule). They could learn accountancy, foreign languages and stenography, e.g. everything that was required for clerical work and trading. Classes at professional schools and at extra courses took place three times every week in the afternoon. Girls who graduated from Mittelschule (a level between primary schools and secondary schools) could continue learning at the Institute for Babysitters and Educators (Institut der Kinderpflegerinnen und Erzieherinnen) and at the Seminar for the Teachers of Manual Needlework (Handarbeitenlehrerinnen-Seminar). All forms of education required only a small fee. In 1901 the association celebrated its 35th anniversary. Then it was counted that 21 131 girls and women completed its schools and courses, and found a job and stabilization in life. The lack of sources makes it impossible to research the full scope of the association’s activity which after 50 years of existing, in 1916 – because of the war and general poverty – ended its existence.

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