“Noble” Men and “Not Necessarily Bloomer Women”: The Public Sphere, Gender Attitudes, and Life Choices

  • Christine A. Ogren


The men and women who attended state normal schools between the 1870s and the 1900s shared an extraordinary experience. As these institutions accommodated students’ nontraditional backgrounds, normalites enjoyed a lively intellectual life and the opportunity to develop a professional spirit. Another important dimension of normal schools was the public sphere that extended beyond the formal curriculum and academic and pre-professional student activities; students became involved in the community life of the local towns and created their own social sphere on campus. In the process, they socialized themselves for participation in middle-class society through observation, emulation, and the formation of extensive webs of personal connections, or social capital.1


Social Capital Male Student Public Sphere Normal School Woman Student 
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5 “Noble” Men and “Not Necessarily Bloomer Women”: The Public Sphere, Gender Attitudes, and Life Choices

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© Christine A. Ogren 2005

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  • Christine A. Ogren

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