The social networks of Rebecca Pennell: an early woman college professor to have equal pay with her male colleagues.
Social networks
Universities and colleges
Kolodny, Kelly Ann
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Name: Vitae Scholasticae Publisher: Caddo Gap Press Audience: Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education; Humanities Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Caddo Gap Press ISSN: 0735-1909
Date: Fall, 2010 Source Volume: 27 Source Issue: 2
Product Code: 8220000 Colleges & Universities NAICS Code: 61131 Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools SIC Code: 8221 Colleges and universities

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The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were a time of great change in terms of the evolving social, economic, and governmental structures in the United States. Two major wars occurred, the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The economy shifted from a barter market to a cash one. As a result of these and other changes, education received greater emphasis. Americans viewed the ability to read, write, and compute mathematical equations as necessary to take part in modern society. Likewise, the new nation needed an informed citizenry. Education was seen as a means to achieve these ambitions. It was during this time that women, usually elite white women, gained access to a variety of higher educational opportunities. Hundreds of academies and seminaries, coeducational and single-sex, shaped the landscape. (1) In addition, state normal schools opened and flourished. (2)

It was at the first state normal school established in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1839 that Rebecca Pennell began her studies and thereafter launched her professional career in Massachusetts" common schools. (3) According to historians Robert Riegel, Lucile Addison Pollard, and Paul Buchanan, Pennell became one of the first women professors in the United States when she taught at the coeducational Antioch College in Ohio. (4) She also was one of the earliest women faculty members in the United States to earn equal pay with her male colleagues. (5) Before her retirement, Pennell also had a ten-year career at the Mary Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. (6) In addition to the groundwork that Pennell laid in the advancement of women in higher education, she was described as strong and innovative in the area of sciences. (7) This paper explores Pennell's remarkable life experiences and the opportunities and challenges she encountered as she held positions historically denied to most women. The paper suggests that Horace Mann, a notable educator and relative, along with members of his circle, supported Pennell's career; and she was further sustained by a network of women whom she met during her initial studies. This paper considers these various social affiliations in an effort to make sense of and view more broadly Pennell's undertakings and advancement in the education profession.


Rebecca Pennell was born in 1821 in Utica, New York, the daughter of Rebecca Mann Pennell and Calvin Pennell, who married in 1815. (8) She had three siblings--an older brother, Calvin, and two younger sisters, Eliza and Marcia. As a young child, she lived in Deerfield, New York, which was an area of growing commerce. When Pennell was four years old, her father died and her mother moved back to her childhood home in Franklin, Massachusetts. (9)

Rebecca's mother was the sister of the prominent Horace Mann and had a strong relationship with him. She faithfully listened to Mann recite his lessons from a Noah Webster grammar book when he was a child, typically while she undertook her chores. (10) Mann took a particular interest in the education of his nieces and nephew after their father's death, and provided them with financial support. (11) Pennell remembered him as a loving figure during her childhood years, someone she and her siblings fiercely admired, though this also was a time when Mann was busy beginning a law career. Pennell's mother once wrote to Mann, "I do not wish anyone to love you more than my children do." (12)

During Pennell's childhood Mann married his first wife, Charlotte Messer, who was the daughter of the president of Brown University. Messer died two years later at the age of twenty-three. (13) This was a tragic period for Mann, though Pennell recalled that he continued his career which led to his appointment as Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education in 1837, leadership in the common school movement, and the development of many normal schools. (14) These events not only shaped Mann's life, but Pennell's as well.

Teacher Training Experiences

On November, 18, 1839, at the age of eighteen, Pennell began her studies at the first state normal school, along with her younger sister, Eliza. (15) This institution, as well as the others that followed, were established to provide regulated teacher preparation and produce an assemblage of trained educators to meet the needs of the growing common school movement. Mann introduced Pennell to the normal school as he was involved in the school's founding and was a regular visitor. Pennell, who had started to work as a substitute teacher at the age of fourteen, was eager to continue her studies there. (16)

The school located in the center of the town of Lexington, was a two-story, white building topped with an attic. (17) In front of the building stood a tall granite monument that had been erected in memory of the American Revolution. A Unitarian church was located nearby as well as a tavern. The setting was a quintessential nineteenth century New England village.


On her first day of enrollment, Pennell participated in natural and mental philosophy classes as well as physiology. She met the school principal and teacher, Cyrus Peirce, as well as his wife, Harriet. Pennell also was introduced to other members of the first class of students, including Mary Swift, Lydia Stow, and Louisa Harris, with whom she quickly formed a social network. (18) These young students, from Quaker, Unitarian, and Congregationalist backgrounds, were intrigued by their studies. They also were extremely aware of the role of their class within the larger normal school movement. Indeed, Norton noted, "A bitter controversy raged about these institutions [normal schools] during their early years, and especially during the years 1839-1842. Their success in Massachusetts was uncertain; hence they were set up at first merely as a three-year experiment." (19)

In addition to participating in the study of core academic subjects, Pennell studied the art and science of teaching. She took part in the model school, located on the first floor of the normal school building, where she taught children practice lessons. In the evenings, she participated in study periods, sewing circles, and reading groups. Pennell's grounding in science dated back to her normal school education, when she learned about botany with Harriet Peirce, wife of Cyrus Peirce. Mrs. Peirce, a kind woman with dark, penetrating eyes, was well liked by the students. (20) She had a keen interest in botany, which was one of the most popular scientific studies at this time. Female writers explored the subject in books such as Botanical Catechism by Jane Welsh and Wild Flowers, Drawn and Colored from Nature by Almira H. L. Phelps. (21) Though Harriett Peirce was not officially a normal school teacher, she interacted with the students on a recurring basis. Pennell also studied other science courses such as natural philosophy and astronomy with Cyrus Peirce. The middle of the nineteenth century was marked by an increased interest in the sciences, an area in which Pennell excelled. (22)

Scripture was woven into the daily prospectus for normal school students. It was typical for Cyrus Peirce to start each day with a reflection on a reading of the Bible. In addition, the students listened to lectures on transcendentalism and phrenology that were facilitated by leading educators such as George Combe, author of The Constitution of Man in Relation to External Objects and Moral Philosophy. (23) Students also visited the common schools at which their peers were offered positions, traveled with them, and stayed with their families. Pennell, along with her sister, Eliza, stayed with Lydia Stow's family on one such occasion. The following entry was recorded in Stows journal:

Cyrus Peirce encouraged the students "to live to the truth," a statement the students embraced and often repeated during the years that followed. (25) As the bonds grew among the students, they captured and incorporated Peirce's philosophical ideas into their sense of sisterhood.

For fourteen months, Pennell arose each day at 6 a.m., attended to chores, studied and taught, walked with normal school students for physical exercise on breaks, as well as participated in appropriate, albeit limited leisure activities. On December 22, 1840 she completed the program, unsure of the future course of her life. Her sister, Eliza, had been sick during the weeks prior to the completion of their studies, adding to a sense of unsettledness. Perhaps, however, there was some foreshadowing as to where Pennell's path would lead. On December 2, 1840, a few weeks prior to her departure from the normal school, Peirce commented on Acts 11:26 of the New Testament. "All the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." Though Pennell did not yet know it, she too would come to know her own Antioch located in Yellow Springs, Ohio--a place where she would serve as professor. After Peirce had read the scripture, Pennell offered a sentiment. "Goodness without greatness is better than greatness without goodness." (26) Pennell, however, perhaps did not envision how one's life trajectory could be marked by both.

Teacher in the Common Schools

After finishing her normal school studies, Pennell and her sister, Eliza, eventually secured joint positions at a school in New Bedford, a growing Massachusetts city with a thriving whaling industry. Pennell was recommended for that position by Cyrus Peirce, who considered her a superior student.

Pennell did not immediately accept the position, but instead waited for consultation with her mother and "Uncle," as suggested in a letter from George Baker to Horace Mann.

Pennell's family was a powerful network in her life. In the case of this career opportunity, Mann negotiated a salary of two hundred dollars for Pennell, and after a series of conversations she also was named the principal of the school which served ninety girls. Pennell's sister, Eliza, became an assistant teacher. (29) Pennell also taught in positions in Franklin, Mansfield, and Walpole. Her teaching evaluations were consistently excellent and noted as such in school committee reports. (30)

Horace Mann and the individuals with whom he formed new relationships also mentored Pennell. In 1843, Mann became engaged and married a second wife, Mary Peabody. (31) After a year-long honeymoon abroad, they set up house and lived in West Newton. Through Mann's marriage, Pennell furthered her connections to notable educators of the time. Mary Peabody Mann was the sister of Elizabeth Peabody, a teacher and founder of the kindergarten movement in the United States. Mary also was the sister of Sophia Peabody, a painter, who married Nathaniel Hawthorne. (32) Following their honeymoon, Horace Mann and Mary began a family which yielded three sons--Horace, George and Benjamin. Pennell met and interacted with members of Mann's extended family and in the process was exposed to nineteenth century ideas about a variety of topics, including education.

Teacher in the Normal Schools

In October of 1846 Pennell transitioned to teaching in the coeducational Westfield Normal School, which was the second state normal school established in Massachusetts. Pennell worked with a small number of other faculty members under the leadership of Principal David Rowe. (33) Rothermel, a Westfield historian, described the coeducational environment at Westfield as one where teachers, regardless of gender, were seen as "molders of community--as shapers of moral and civic consensus--in and out of the classroom." (34) At Westfield the idea of teacher as nurturer ran alongside the idea of teacher as intellect. (35) Students undertook advanced work in subjects such as philosophy, natural sciences, and rhetoric. These were subjects that Pennell had studied when she was a student at the normal school in Lexington. Pennell continued her work at Westfield until 1849. She then joined the faculty of the West Newton Normal School where she taught until 1853.

The West Newton Normal School located near the Mann residence, actually was the first state normal school at which she initially had studied. It relocated from Lexington to West Newton as a larger building was needed for the students. The location in West Newton also was promising as it was near a train station. For a short time, Pennell may have worked with Cyrus Peirce, who resigned from the school in 1849. She then worked with the new principal, Eben Steams, who tightened the admission requirements. It was at West Newton Normal School that Pennell taught and then later worked with Lucretia Crocker, a gifted student and colleague. Indeed, when Stearns took a leave of absence from the school for health reasons, Pennell and Crocker along with another faculty member, Ms. Whittemore, were left in charge of the normal school. (36) One student reflected on them as a "trio of gifted and lovely women whom I was so fortunate as to call my teachers." (37)


During Pennell's tenure at the West Newton Normal School, she resided with Mann and his family. Her mother died in 1850 and Pennell turned to Mann increasingly as a father figure. This proved to be a difficult living arrangement, however, as Mary Mann was upset over Horace Mann's affectionate inquiries about Pennell. (38) Mary Mann also was guarded about Pennell's interactions with her own children, as suggested in a letter that she wrote to Horace Mann regarding Pennell's travels with their son, George.

This difficulty between Mary Mann and Pennell was a preview for more that would develop between them.

During this time, Catharine Beecher and Henry Ward Beecher were guests at the Mann household. Their visits enabled Pennell to interact with notable educators and further exposed her to diverse ideas about the role of women in education. Catharine Beecher, for example, believed that single women could express their feminine virtues by teaching. She further believed that women were natural teachers. Beecher's sentiments about the role of women in education were similar to those of Horace Mann.

Pennell's Move to Antioch College and Work as a Professor

In 1848 Horace Mann resigned from his post as Secretary of Education and became a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 1852 he accepted the role of president of the newly founded coeducational Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Mann initially was unsure about accepting the post, cautioned by friends such as Catharine Beecher who was wary of the quality of the students the college would attract. Mann, however, lost a gubernatorial election in Massachusetts during this time and was searching for a new career. (40) Once he accepted the role of president of Antioch, he appointed Rebecca Pennell and her brother, Calvin, as professors. On April 10, 1853, Louisa Harris, one of Pennell's normal school peers, visited her at the Mann residence and discussed Pennell's future work at Antioch, as well as considered relocating herself.

Though thirteen years had passed since they had completed their normal school studies, they continued to meet and support each other.

Calvin also wrote to his sister at this time regarding his expectations for joining Antioch and reservations about his professorship.

Pennell was appointed to the college with excellent teaching evaluations; however, those of her brother were less exemplary. For example, in 1848, he was accused of whipping one of his students. (43)

As the first woman college professor on the faculty at Antioch, and likely one of the first women professors in the United States, Pennell, at age thirty-one, taught physical geography, natural history, civil history, didactics, and drawing. Her selection of courses expanded over time to include subjects such as botany and zoology. (44) As a result of Mann's negotiations with the trustees, Pennell was one of the earliest women college professors in the United States to be awarded the same salary as her male colleagues. Equal salaries at Antioch College, however, were not to be a reality for other woman faculty who joined the institution, an inequality which Pennell noticed. The trustees suggested that the men be paid eight hundred dollars a year, and the women faculty, only five hundred. (45)

According to historians John Rury and Glenn Harper, "Coeducation at Antioch was to be a 'Great Experiment' in correcting the wrongs that women's education had suffered." (46) This, however, did not mean that men and women were educated as equals. Mann, influenced by his Calvinistic upbringing, developed rules to "govern the relationships of men and women students, which abrogated much of the spirit of coeducation even if it did not affect formal matters of curriculum or what occurred in classrooms." (47) Women, for example, were not allowed to travel to the village by themselves, nor were they allowed to exercise on the men's gymnastic equipment. In addition, the expectation was that men and women would form separate literary societies. "The decision not to permit men and women to meet together in the same literary society aroused a good deal of hard feeling, particularly on the part of women students." (48) For Pennell, this was a sharp contrast to her experiences at Westfield Normal School where male and female students participated together in the literary society. Indeed, Rothermel noted, "In its early years Westfield offered its female members significant opportunities to participate in mixed company in typically masculine rhetorical activities like public debate." (49) The literary society at Westfield later became a more gender-conscious organization that closely resembled that of Antioch.

In general, Pennell's teaching evaluations at Antioch were excellent. Her science classes were particularly innovative. She often would take her students outside where they would examine plant specimens. Though Pennell's work at Antioch primarily focused on teaching, she also assisted with the recruitment of new faculty. In August 1854, she wrote to Mann from New York to let him know that a Mr. Craig had agreed to join the faculty.

This letter pleased Mann as he admired Craig and his religious ideals. He also thought that Craig would make an excellent president of Antioch at a future time. (51) Pennell was joined at Antioch by her former student and colleague from the West Newton Normal School, Lucretia Crocker, who became the head of the mathematics department. (52) Pennell undoubtedly facilitated Crocker's introduction to the college. In recruiting some of the faculty, Pennell drew on the social networks she had formed with other normal school peers.

Pennell's Marriage

At the age of thirty-four and to the surprise of her family and peers, Pennell married the assistant treasurer of Antioch, Amos Dean. From the beginning, the Mann family thought he was not suitable for Rebecca. Indeed, on the day of Pennell's wedding, Mann was visibly upset. (53) His relationship with Pennell's husband continued to deteriorate. (54)

Though Pennell was content with her choice of a marriage partner, her life was filled with tension during this time. Disagreements arose between the religious groups at Antioch College, which led to a general sense of unsettledness. There also were tremendous financial problems, which led to a lack of regular salaries for the faculty. (55) The financial worries consumed Pennell, even while she traveled overseas with her husband during the summer of 1856, following their wedding. Pennell wrote home with possible suggestions for fundraising.

During this stressful period, Pennell's husband was accused of falsifying financial records. His commissions were scrutinized and probed. Subsequently the reputation of Pennell was questioned which led to conflict between Pennell and Mann and subsequently between Pennell and Mary Mann. Some questioned whether Pennell, and not Mann, served as president of the college. (57) Pennell, it was suggested, grew accustomed to speaking for her uncle, expressing his wishes and apprehensions, even when not requested by Mann to do this.

Pennell's stress also was accompanied by great grief. Pennell's sister, Eliza, and her husband, Gardiner Blake, along with their child, Henry, moved to the college from 1855-1856 from their home in Brooklyn, New York. Mann hired Eliza's husband to serve as the assistant treasurer of the college. (58) Shortly thereafter, in 1857, at age thirty-five, Eliza died. Pennell adopted her son and began to raise the child. (59) Pennell wanted a child and once confided to her sister that she would be unhappy not to have children. She feared that she might lose the chance. (60)

Pressures at Antioch continued to increase. Horace Mann became worn out from the worries that resulted from his work at the college. Due to the debt it was unclear whether the college would remain open. At times, Mann's speech was slurred. His weariness led to fever and chills. Then, in 1859, he died. (61) Along with Mary and his children, Pennell was at his bedside during his final hours. She recorded notes about his death in which she reflected on how he asked for the rate of his pulse, the words that he spoke to his wife suggesting that there was enough money for her and the children, and his final words to family and friends. (62) Mary Mann, in contrast, wrote a biting letter to her sister, Sophia Hawthorne, regarding Pennell's interactions with Mann during his final hours.

After Mann's death, Mary Mann returned to Massachusetts and resided in Concord. She was through with all communication with Rebecca. Pennell left Antioch College and relocated to St. Louis where she worked at the Mary Institute in Washington University. Her brother, Calvin, secured a job there as school principal, enticed by the promise of a larger salary. Indeed, a historical publication of the Mary Institute reported, "In the very year that Mary Institute was founded there died, at Yellow Springs, Ohio, the seat of Antioch College, one of the greatest educational reformers that America has known." (64)

Transition to the Mary Institute and Washington University in St. Louis and Retirement

The Mary Institute, a school for girls, was founded by William Greenleaf Eliot, a Unitarian minister in St. Louis who cofounded Washington University in 1853. A goal of the school was to provide an education that equaled what men received at that time, as well as prepared women for college. Access of women to higher education was a theme that had permeated Pennell's own schooling. The school's mission appealed to her. Though married, Pennell continued to teach, her husband following her to the new position. At the Mary Institute, Pennell drew on her experiences at Antioch and developed a strong science curriculum. The catalogues from 1859 to 1868 listed her as a teacher of physiology, natural sciences, natural history and drawing. (65)

Though Pennell enjoyed her teaching at the Mary Institute, the Civil War transpired which led to a period of tension and unsettledness. A centennial publication of the Mary Institute recorded, "St. Louis in 1861 was not the most orderly of cities, for it was torn by the tempers and partisanship of the Civil War." (66) Pennell's husband, who became a captain, died. Pennell continued to teach until 1868, at which time she resigned. She then relocated to St. Paul, Minnesota where she lived with her nephew, Henry, whom she had adopted.

Pennell's interest in science, in botany in particular, was sustained. She acquired a large botanical collection from Samuel Botsford Buckley, a naturalist. After keeping the collection for years, she sold it to the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. It represented "one-third to one-half of the entire collection." (67) Pennell remembered the education in botany that she had received from Harriet Peirce and remained in communication with her about the subject. Upon Harriet Peirce's death, it was written:

These specimens undoubtedly were brought by Pennell's hands, for she lived in Minnesota at that time.

Pennell's Social Networks Throughout Her Career

Pennell's teaching and subsequent career trajectory were remarkable. She was a student in the first class of the first state normal school, as well as a teacher at this institution at a later time. She was a teacher at the first coeducational state normal school at Westfield. When she transitioned to Antioch College, she was among the first women to serve as a professional in a coeducational college, where she and her male colleagues received equal pay. She excelled in the sciences. As Pennell progressed on this journey, her sense of self unfolded. She moved from the role of student to one of exemplary teacher. She moved from one about whom negotiations were made to one who became a skillful negotiator. Though Pennell encountered challenges, her career was remarkable in all of these respects.

Pennell's career was influenced by individuals in her social networks. Her connections with her uncle, Horace Mann, and those in his circle were central to her studies and career advancement. Mann enrolled her in the normal school, settled her salaries and offered her teaching positions. Mann's marriage to Mary Peabody further connected Pennell to a wider circle of notable individuals. If not for Pennell's connections to Mann and his circle of acquaintances, it is questionable whether she would have become a professor. In some respects, nepotism functioned during Pennell's journey. Though Pennell consistently was described as a superior teacher, she was still the niece of Horace Mann.

Pennell's work also was shaped and supported through her associations with a more quiet but strong group of women whom she met during studies at the first state normal school, a group of women who often are placed on the margins, if they appear at all, in the discussion of educational history. This network of students also is a prism through which to explore and consider Pennell's journey.

The first group of women who studied in Lexington pursued significant endeavors following their studies. Mary Swift, one of Pennell's normal school peers, went on to teach at the Perkins Institution with Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe and was the primary teacher of Laura Dewey Bridgman, a deaf and blind student who became known world-wide for her success in learning to communicate. Swift later wrote a book about her work with Bridgman. Swift also met with Helen Keller and was credited with encouraging her to pursue oral communication. (69)

Lydia Stow, another peer of Pennell, became involved with the abolitionist movement. She housed individuals such as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and William Garrison at her house in Fall River. She was a founder of the Fall River Women's Union which was an organization that provided educational opportunities, housing and daycare for the working women in the city mills. Other normal school peers, such as Louisa Harris and Adeline Ireson, taught in a variety of positions for the remainder of their lives. (70)

This group of women provided Pennell with an identity. As an eighteen-year-old student, she became a normalite. Normalites not only supported each other during their studies, but became friends, and wrote letters and poems to each other. Pennell, for example, wrote one such poem to a normal school peer regarding an album she was given.

Though the focus of the poem is not significant, the signature is. Pennell suggested that she felt a sense of sisterhood with the other normal school students. They became a social network to which she belonged. It was through this group that they shared their joy of teaching as well as enthusiasm for particular academic subjects. If Harriet Peirce is considered an adjunct member of this group, it is clearly seen that she was an influence in the development of Pennell's love of botany. If Lucretia Crocker is considered an adjunct normal-school peer, as a student of Pennell and then colleague, it is seen that she too had academic aspirations like those of Pennell.

This group of women was an important source in Pennell's life experiences. This is evident through her participation in class reunions that occurred even when she was older in life and the distance required to travel to such events was significant. She took part in the first reunion in 1850 when she lived in West Newton and then again in 1852. In 1874, she traveled to a reunion from St. Paul, Minnesota and then again in 1884 from the same location. In 1889, she was one of the eight members of the surviving eleven to take part in the semi-centennial celebration and was described as one of the most honored guests. (72) Like Pennell, normal school students encountered controversy with their undertakings, experiences that they shared in their letters and during visits and in meetings.


Pennell was an early woman faculty member in a coeducational college who received pay that was equal to that of her male colleagues. Her teaching techniques were excellent and her curriculum, particularly in the field of science, was innovative. Her access to higher education began as a member of the first class of the first state normal school in Lexington, Massachusetts. It evolved into work as a founding faculty member of Antioch College in Ohio in 1853. It concluded with a ten-year career at the Mary Institute at Washington University. It was a life of opportunity and challenge, supported and sustained by a variety of networks. She had the benefits of strong mentors during her life and subsequently became an exemplar in educational history.

Kelly Ann Kolodny

Framingham State University


(1) Margaret A. Nash, Women's Education in the United States 1780-1840 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

(2) Christine Ogren, The American State Normal School: "An Instrument of Great Good" (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

(3) Mary Swift Lamson, Records of the First Class of the First State Normal School in America: Established at Lexington, Massachusetts 1839 (Boston: Printed for the Class, 1903).

(4) Robert E. Riegel, American Women: A Story of Social Change (Rutherford: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1971), 159; Lucille Addison Pollard, Women on College and University Faculties: A Historical Survey and a Study of Their Present Academic Status (New York, Amo Press, 1977), 120; Paul D. Buchanan, The American Women's Rights Movement: A Chronology of Events from 1600 to 2008, (Boston, Branden Books, 2009).

(5) Pollard, Women on College and University Faculties, 120.

(6) Madeleine B. Stern, We the Women: Career Firsts of Nineteenth-Century America (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1962), 173-175.

(7) Deborah Jean Warner,"Science Education for Women in Antebellum America," ISIS 69 (1978): 58-67.

(8) Stern, We the Women, 149.

(9) Ibid.

(10) Jonathan Messerli, Horace Mann: A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1972), 12.

(11) Louise Hall Tharp, Until Victory: Horace Mann and Mary Peabody (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1953), 169.

(12) Rebecca Mann Pennell to Horace Mann, 4 April 1843, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(13) Messerli, Horace Mann, 160.

(14) Tharp, Until Victory, 233-234.

(15) Mary Swift Lamson, The First State Normal School in America: The Journals of Cyrus Peirce and Mary Swift (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1926), 139.

(16) State Normal School at Westfield, Mass., Semi-Centennial and Other Exercises of the State Normal School at Westfield, Mass. (Boston, Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1889).

(17) Lamson, The First State Normal School in America.

(18) Ibid., 139.

(19) Arthur O. Norton," Introduction," In The First State Normal School in America: The Journals of Cyrus Peirce and Mary Swift (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1926), XIV.

(20) Lamson, The First State Normal School in America, 40.

(21) Jane Kilby Welch, A Botanical Catechism Containing Introductory Lessons for Students in Botany (Northampton [MA] : Printed by T.W. Shepard and Co., 1819. Almira Phelps' book is mentioned in Deborah Jean Warner, "Science Education for Women in Antebellum America," 64.

(22) Ibid., 58.

(23) George Combe, The Constitution of Man in Relation to External Objects (University of Michigan Library, 1835); George Combe, Moral Philosophy or the Duties of Man Considered in His Individual Domestic and Social Capacities (New York: Kessinger Publishing, 2007).

(24) Lydia Stow, Journal, Lydia Stow Papers, Framingham State University.

(25) Lamson, The First State Normal School in America.

(26) Lydia Stow, Journal, Lydia Stow Papers, Framingham State University.

(27) Cyrus Peirce to Rebecca Pennell, 12 March 1842, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(28) George Baker to Horace Mann, 14 March 1842, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(29) Horace Mann to Rebecca Pennell, 1842, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(30) Stern, We the Women, 154-155.

(31) Messerli, Horace Mann, 384-385; Tharp, Until Victory, 189-190.

(32) Megan Marshall, The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005).

(33) Robert T. Brown, The Rise and Fall of the People's Colleges: The Westfield Normal School, 1839 to 1914. (Westfield, MA Institute for Massachusetts Studies, 1988), 38; M.B. Whitney, A.P. Stone, J.W. Dickinson, General Catalogue of the State Normal School Westfield, Mass. 1839-1889 (Boston, Knight & Potter Printing Company, 1890).

(34) Beth Ann Rothermel," A Sphere of Noble Action: Gender, Rhetoric, and Influence at a Nineteenth Century Massachusetts State Normal School," Rhetoric Society Quarterly 33, no. 1 (Winter 2002): 39.

(35) Ibid., 40

(36) Ednah Dow Cheney, Memoirs of Lucretia Crocker and Abby W. May (Boston: Printed at the Request of the Massachusetts School Suffage Association, 1893), 3.

(37) Ibid., 4.

(38) Stern, We the Women, 157.

(39) Mary Mann to Horace Mann, 5 December 1852, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(40) Messerli, Horace Mann, 538-539.

(41) Louisa Harris, Journal, Louisa Harris Papers, Framingham State University.

(42) Calvin Pennell to Rebecca Pennell, 17 October 1852, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(43) Calvin S. Pennell, 12 March 1848, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(44) Stern, We the Women, 155.

(45) Ibid., 163-166.

(46) John Rury and Glenn Harper, "The Trouble with Coeducation: Mann and Women at Antioch, 1853-1860, "History of Education Quarterly 26, no. 4 (Winter 1986): 481-502.

(47) Ibid., 486.

(48) Ibid., 495.

(49) Rothermel, "A Sphere of Noble Action," 43.

(50) Rebecca Pennell to Horace Mann, 10 August 1854, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(51) Tharp, Until Victory, 265.

(52) Cheney, Memoirs of Lucretia Crocker and Abby W. May, 3.

(53) Tharp, Until Victory, 282-283.

(54) Stern, We the Women, 168-169.

(55) Messerli, Horace Mann, 571.

(56) Rebecca Pennell to Horace Mann and Family, 22 June 1856, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(57) Stern, We the Women, 171.

(58) Tharp, Until Victory, 285.

(59) Ibid., 170.

(60) Ibid., 289.

(61) Messerli, Horace Mann, 586-588.

(62) Rebecca Pennell, Notes on the Death of Horace Mann, 2 August 1859, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(63) Mary Mann to Sophia Hawthorne, 5 September 1859, Horace Mann Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

(64) Mary Institute: 1859-1934, Mary Institute Papers, Washington University.

(65) Catalogues of the Officers and Students of Washington University 1859-1868, Mary Institute Papers, Washington University.

(66) From Mary to You: Centennial 1859-1959, Mary Institute Papers, Washington University, 18.

(67) Laurence J. Dorr, "The Samuel Botsford Buckley -- Rebecca Mann Dean Mystery," Taxon 46 (November 1997) 661-687.

(68) Lamson, Records of the First Class of the First State Normal School in America, 153.

(69) Kelly Kolodny," Mary Swift: Member of the First Class of the First State Normal School," Vitae Scholasticae 25 (2008): 39-57.

(70) Lamson, Records of the First Class of the First State Normal School in America.

(71) Louisa Harris, Journal, Louisa Harris Papers, Framingham State University.

(72) Ibid.
August 12th 1839

   A bright morning has dawned upon us and how many happy hearts are
   beating. The stage arrives and is soon filled and on its way.
   Misses Pennell and Harris & Wyman & myself called upon Miss
   Stodder. She invited us to accompany her to Mr. Parker's.... At
   half past three the Misses Pennell and myself were seated in the
   cars for Dedham. Reached home with great delight. Found my friends
   all saying the greatest of earthly things--health. Rebecca and
   Eliza passed the night with me and remained the next afternoon when
   they left for Wrentham. (24)

March 12, 1842

   My dear Miss Pennell,

   Mr. George W. Baker of New Bedford called on me yesterday in
   pursuit of a teacher for a District School. I referred him to one
   Rebecca M. Pennell of Wrentham. Saying at the same time that he
   would find in her "everything he wished." No doubt you'll hear from
   him before this reaches you--and now, my Jewel, you are going to a
   province, populous, wealthy.... You will not fail, I need not be
   anxious. (27)

March 14, 1842

   By request of our committee, I yesterday went to Lexington in
   pursuit of a teacher.... My friend Peirce named to me Rebecca M.
   Pennell (who I have since learned is a niece of Horace).... I
   proceeded yesterday afternoon to South Walpole where I found the
   young lady and had a few minutes conversation with her on the
   subject. She told me that she did not like to engage till she had
   consulted her mother & her uncle. (28)

December 6, 1852


   I received no letter from you this morning, and no Rebecca &
   Georgie have appeared tonight--So I feel exceedingly anxious for
   she sent me a note, which I received this morning, saying that her
   face is inflamed & if she did not come this afternoon, I might know
   that she was detained by it. I expected them so certainly that I
   cannot well bear the disappointment if she is detained by illness,
   how shall I get my baby back again? He is very well off there, I
   suppose, but I long to see the little thing again. (39)

Since my last entry I have been out to W. Newton with Adie and
   Hannah D. [two other normal school students] to visit our friend
   and classmate Rebecca Pennell who has been honored with a
   professorship in Antioch College. Mr. Mann who is President invited
   us to join the institution which I for one would very gladly do if
   such a thing was practicable for me. How I would like to put off
   the pedagogue for a season and become a pupil again. I build air
   castes to that effect sometimes but I am confident they can never
   become substantial fabrics. (41)

Sunday, October 17th 1852

   My Dear Sister

   I should want them to pay me a thousand for going. I consider it a
   great sacrifice. We certainly should be obliged to be on salt pork
   and wear cow hide shoes. When anyone speaks of his going, they say
   well, I suppose he will have a much handsome salary. I say nothing.
   You have a new institution like that is of slow growth and probably
   would not increase for some time. (42)

New York
   August 4th --54

   My Dear Uncle, I had a long talk with Mr. Craig & said everything I
   could think of, to make him regard Yellow Springs as a pleasant
   field of labor, because it promises rich harvests of usefulness. At
   first he seemed to think it would be entirely out of the
   question.... I thought his feelings changed somewhat before he left
   & have since heard that he concluded to accept the invitation to go
   to Antioch. (50)

June 22, 1856

   Dear Ones at Home,

   You will be glad to know that I am ... on board, & feeling
   wonderfully calm ... informed ... that every teacher had refused to
   return ... & that the only hope of avoiding the catastrophe of
   suspending the college for the fall term was control on his staying
   & raising money.... What do you think of trying for some money in
   London? (56)

September 5, 1859

   My Dear Sophia,

   Since I received your letter I have reviewed those last days to
   give you some account of them.... From the delight or ... time
   allocated with some of the peculiar trials. Rebecca was very ill
   part of the time & could not come in & when she got a little better
   she could not stay in the room because all the windows were open.
   This was fortunate for him because she was so absorbed in her own
   troubles that she could not help recurring [sic] them & reporting
   to him unpleasant remarks made in the neighborhood & then her
   husband was always as near to her as her shadow & the sight of him
   was most distracting to us both. My beloved knew how I detested the
   man beside [sic] not wishing to see him or hear him talk about
   things that can not be remedied. (63)

To the last, her chief intellectual delight was in botany which she
   studied from a girl of sixteen, when with a few others her own age,
   she began to collect, observe, and record her conclusions. At
   eighty-four she helped to form and joined a new botanical class. I
   have before me a valuable contribution written by her, at that time
   and read at the meeting; and this summer, at the age of ninety,
   rare specimens brought from Minnesota by loving hands were received
   and examined with great delight. (68)

Remember love, there is an album
   That thou can't only fill;
   Unto thee, it is committed
   To improve with outmost [sic] skill.

   By thee only can be guided
   By thee kept from sorrows shall
   Every line by thee indicted
   Every page marginal.

   With great care may you preserve it.
   Free from errors, baneful strife
   That fair album is thy life.

   Your affectionate normal sister, Rebecca M. Pennell. (71)
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