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"Education for Service," and “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” are two aphorisms engraved in granite over doorways of the Boston Normal School (BNS) buildings on Huntington Avenue in Boston. One can argue that the history of women in the teaching profession, its paradoxical and conflicted reality, are reflected in the complex and contradictory meanings of these two aphorisms. Young women students at BNS were moving toward greater freedom or autonomy by taking advantage of the educational opportunity available to them in this city-supported, tuition-free teacher training institution. At the same time, they were providing a crucial social service sanctioned by traditional views of women, and controlled, for the most part, by male dominated institutions - city political structures, the state legislature, the business community, and, eventually, the “professional” education establishment represented by school administrators and university trained education specialists.


This essay is a working paper completed by the author as part of a history course during her graduate studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The author agreed to have this publication listed as part of ScholarWorks.


© Ann Froines


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