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'Maggie C Bush - Elmira College, 1855'

 
'Maggie C Bush - Elmira College, 1855' by ELMIRA COLLEGE; Margaret C Bush (1855)

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Author: ELMIRA COLLEGE; Margaret C Bush
Title: 'Maggie C Bush - Elmira College, 1855'
 
Year: 1855
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: Elmira
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: Yes
 
Price: £1950
 
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Added under Manuscripts  

[pp] 72. Manuscript essays, letters and journal entries by a member of the first intake to 'the mother of women's colleges' - Elmira College - one of the world's first women's higher education colleges to award degrees. Maggie Bush has used a lined quarto sized notebook bound in quarter black roan over black straight grain cloth, chipping to the spine but structurally sound.. On the first leaf she has written 'M. Bush. College - Maggie E Bush, Elmira College, November 28th 1855' - just a month after the College's foundation. The manuscript records in journal form Maggie's experience of a lecture by Henry Ward Beecher, her witty essays on subjects such as 'Latin. Why are we thus toiling to gain an object that is impossible?' and finally a series of pages used as a liber amicorum for Elmira College friends. After giving her name and address at Elmira the first manuscript page is a dedicatory poem for this book followed by a sequence of original essays each signed 'Maggie'. These run to a few pages each and tackle apparently non-didactic subjects such as 'A School Girls Soliloquy... Feb 20th 1856' which is a meditation on her difficulties in arranging words 'according to grammatical rule... I must endeavour to become interested in this composition, writing, heart and soul...' There is an engaging essay on 'Reading' in which Maggie considers the importance of directed reading, an optimistic study of 'The Western Pioneer', a poem by Caroline Criswell, 'March 4th 1856 College' and her very funny essay on 'Latin.... [and the classics] on the whole up to the present time, it is said they have accomplished nothing in this country.' In a four page copy letter from her grandmother addressed to 'Elmira Female College... My dear Grandchild' is lectured on her conduct - 'be sure you put your curls under the cape of your bonnet...' followed by essays on Mahomet 'the great impostor' and 'Water and its Uses'. The sole diary entries are for the first two days of August 1859 - it was on August 2nd that she resolved to listen to Henry Ward Beecher, an overwhelming experience for the young woman, seemingly a teacher by that time: 'That lecture was so good... the subject was '"Commonwealth" first he showed the difference between this and anarchy. He says government is going on at all times in the state in the family, among children... O! that I could repeat it all word for word...' - her summary of this inspiring lecture runs to about a page. Elmira College describes itself as 'one of the great, small colleges of the nation and was the among the earliest institutions of higher learning anywhere to be founded as a college to award baccalaureate degrees to women with a course of study equal in rigour to men's colleges. The Elmira Female College as it then was opened to 242 students of various academic backgrounds for its first term in October, 1855 though it lacked a President until the following year when Augustus Woodruff Cowles was secured as the first President, establishing as a guiding principle of the College that it promote 'the rights of woman to a larger share of education... to furnish an institution where the most gifted and intellectual may pursue a course of thorough and extended study...'
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