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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Catherine Beecher

b. 1800, East Hampton, New York; d. 1878, Elmira, New York

The correct spelling of this name is CATHARINE BEECHER.

Catharine Beecher, of the illustrious Beecher clan, was a pioneering force in the advancement of education for women. In 1823, she founded the Hartford Female Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, to foster the intellectual abilities of women through a challenging curriculum that included an innovative program of callisthenic exercise. Moving to Cincinnati with her father and sister, Harriet Beecher, in 1832, she there established the Western Female Institute and other female colleges throughout the Midwest. In books such as The Moral Instructor for Schools and Families: Containing Lessons on the Duties of Life (1838) and A Treatise on Domestic Economy for the Use of Young Ladies at Home and at School (1841), Beecher promoted a conservative feminist ideology of the domestic sphere as women’s proper domain from which, if properly educated, they could shape the character of American society.