Old map of Southeastern Ohio
Women Promoting Education in Southeast Ohio

Catharine Beecher (1800-1878)

Catharine Beecher (Source National Women’s History Museum)
Catharine Beecher (Source: National Women’s History Museum)






About Catharine Beecher 

A family of advocates: Catharine Beecher was born in East Hampton, New York, to a family of religious leaders, social reformers, and abolitionists. Her father, Lyman Beecher, and her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, were celebrated clergymen, and her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Training women to become teachers: In 1832, she moved with her father to Cincinnati, where she launched her successful campaign to recruit and train women to be elementary school teachers. Prior to this time, elementary school teaching had been a predominantly male occupation. Emphasizing the domestic ideology of the period, Beecher reasoned that teaching children would allow young, single women to earn a living while practicing the nurturing skills they would later put to use as wives and mothers. With that philosophy in mind, she and her father founded Cincinnati’s Western Female Academy, one of several schools Beecher would establish to train women teachers in Ohio and other midwestern states. Among her innovations was encouraging future teachers to read aloud to their students from the best examples of English-language prose.

A writer: Beecher herself was a best-selling author. Her 1841 book, A Treatise on Domestic Economy, emphasized the importance of practical housekeeping and urged women to take pride in their homemaking role. She and her sister Harriet later published another popular homemaking guide, The American Woman’s Home (1869).


Her Time

Catharine Beecher was born several decades after the Declaration of Independence and lived through the Civil War.

The American Woman's Home book cover
The American Woman's Home inside flap
The American Woman's Home illustration

Her Book on 'Domestic Science'

Catharine Beecher co-authored The American woman's home: or, Principles of domestic science; being a guide to the formation and maintenance of economical, healthful, beautiful, and Christian homes in 1869.

The book can be found in the digital collection of the Ohio University Library. 

View the book in the Ohio University Archives 

Reference: Kathryn Kish Sklar, Catharine Beecher: A Study in American Domesticity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973).