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Rare Book and Special Collections Division



The Domestic Sphere
Children's Literature
arrow graphicAdvice Books
Finding Rare Children's Books
Religion and Spirituality
Reform Efforts
Women in Popular Culture
Collections Formed by Women
Literary Works



Advice Books

Advice to girls and young ladies has been a part of literature for children for many years. With the Juvenile Collection and complementary parts of the Carson Collection and the rare book classified collection, it is possible to trace development and changes in this genre. The eighteenth-century author of Advice from a Lady of Quality to Her Children (Newbury-Port: John Mycall, 1789; LC262.A3 Juv) advises, “The books you read should be as pure as your heart, and be reduced within a narrow compass. It is a mistake to pretend that our sex ought to STUDY” (p. 181).

In A Mirror for the Female Sex, Historical Beauties for Young Ladies (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1799; HQ1229.P58 Juv) , Mary Hopkins Pilkington declares, “. . . it does not appear to me that a woman will be rendered less acceptable in the world, or worse qualified to perform any part of her duty in it, by having employed her time from 6 to 16 in the cultivation of her understanding”( p. 58).

By the mid-nineteenth century Lydia Howard Sigourney (1791-1865), a retired teacher, wrote in The Book for Girls . . . (New York: Turner & Hayden, 1844; PZ6.S578 Bo Juv) , “No female should consider herself educated, until she is mistress of some employment or accomplishment, by which she might gain a livelihood, should she be reduced to the necessity of supporting herself ” (p.117).

More works offering advice to young women in the classified rare book collection, as in the General Collections, can be found under HQ1229, for example, Eliza Farrar's Young Lady's Friend (Boston, 1837; HQ1229.F22) and an American reprint of British author John Ruskin's Letters and Advice to Young Girls and Young Ladies (New York: J. Wiley, 1879; HQ1229.R9) . Emily Thornwell's Lady's Guide to Perfect Gentility (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1857; BJ1856.T5 Toner) was so popular that it was reissued ten times between 1857 and 1890.

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