Historical Significance One of the early American intellectual figures to address educational needs of women. Pioneer in women’s rights. Margaret’s efforts inspired women to develop their potential and liberate themselves from oppressive and demeaning roles. Published several notable works throughout her life which influenced women’s rights; editor of the Dial. Margaret’s work inspired the promotion of both formal and informal education for women.
Personal History Born Sarah Margaret Fuller on May 23, 1810 in Cambridgeport , MA to Margaret Crane and Timothy Fuller. The Fullers were a New England family known for their independence of thought and action. Educational opportunities were virtually non-existent for women in the 1800s, therefore, Margaret was denied formal education. Most of her education was supplied by her father. Margaret’s father, although disappointed that Margaret was not a boy, decided to “make the most of it” and introduce her to books at an early age. Had one younger sister who died at birth and one younger brother.
Personal History Margaret’s father instituted a rigid and strict course of study following the death of Margaret’s sister. She studied Latin and Greek mythology at an early age. During the Revolution of 1848 and the siege of Rome by the French forces, Fuller assumed charge of one of the hospitals of the city, while her husband took part in the fighting. Margaret, her husband, and son perish at sea on their way back to America in 1950. . Margaret’s mother did not believe women belonged in school. When attending the Prescott sisters’ female seminary, Margaret’s fellow students were annoyed with her confidence and knowledge.
The Boston Conversations Objective: To help women ascertain “what pursuits are best suited to us, in our time and state of society, and how we may make best use of our means for building up the life of thought upon the life of action.” Margaret Fuller Ossoli The conversations provided a systematic and organized educational environment at a time when education for women was thought to be useless. Margaret believed the conversations represented an awakening for women. Boston was chosen as the “starting point” because Margaret felt that if the conversations couldn’t survive in Boston, there would be little hope they would succeed elsewhere in the U.S. First conversation took place in the autumn of 1839. Reportedly, 10 women participated.
The Boston Conversations The conversations included topics such as Greek mythology, classic literature, and Latin, which were some of the first topics Margaret learned as a child. Margaret incorporated elements of self-reflection in the discussions. There were 13 conversations within a year’s time; the conversations lasted from 1839-1844.
Contributions to Adult Education Inspired women to look beyond “finishing school” and make learning a lifelong endeavor. Fuller’s work promoted and supported adult literary education and women’s rights. Introduced contemporary European literature to many. Her role as an educator, writer, and conversationalist provided a platform for self-education.
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