“She Is Not Thoroughly Practical”: High School Alumnae Shaping Domestic Science in the Progressive Era

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2020




This article traces the role of Progressive Era high school alumnae clubs in reconstructing the pedagogies and culture of the public high school to reflect their own needs as alumnae, marshaling in a “domesticated” curriculum for women. Focusing on a case study of a large, single-sex, urban high school and alumnae club in the South, I analyze the rhetorical strategies women used to make the case for domestic sciences and follow the uptake of this curriculum and the club’s values within the high school by the beginning of the twentieth century, as the work of the club was increasingly pit against traditional academics. This case study provides insights into the broader history of women’s clubs, women’s education, domestic sciences, and their intersection in Progressive Era education reform.