The forgotten story of chemistry at British independent girls' schools, 1820s–1930s
- Paperback / softback, 276 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
- 1 Feb 2017
- UCL IOE Press
Marelene Rayner-Canham was laboratory instructor in physics at Memorial University's Grenfell Campus, Newfoundland, and is now a researcher and author on the history of women in science.
Geoff Rayner-Canham is Professor of Chemistry at Memorial University's Grenfell Campus, Newfoundland.
CONTENTS: Preface and acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. The revolution in girls’ education, 1850–1910; 2. The earliest chemistry education for girls; 3. Chemistry and the two role-model girls’ schools; 4. Chemistry as a girls’ subject; 5. The pioneering women chemistry teachers; 6. Practical chemistry at girls’ schools; 7. Chemistry and school science clubs; 8. In their own words: Chemistry poetry and short stories; 9. Chemistry at some Welsh girls’ schools; 10. Chemistry at some Scottish girls’ schools; 11. What will the chemistry students do?; 12. The 1930s: The end of an era; References; Index
It brings to light evidence, narratives and developments which otherwise would not be seen and in so doing enriches historical analysis. There is much here that will be of considerable interest and value to women’s historians, historians of gender, historians of science and historians of education more broadly.
Already renowned as pioneers in the history of science education for women, the Rayner-Canhams have now produced a stimulating, in-depth account of chemistry teaching in girls’ schools between the middle of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Based on extraordinarily extensive archival research, this much-needed and informative analysis also offers a treasure-trove of lively, original quotations from students, teachers and school magazines.
The authors’ painstaking, but elegant, study of the archives of some 60 independent British girls’ schools reveals a forgotten world of dedicated women science teachers, enthusiastic pupils and well-equipped laboratories. With its profiles of large numbers of female teachers whose dedicated service made scientific careers for women possible, A Chemical Passion is a valuable work of reference as well as an absorbing narrative with captivating illustrations.
An innovative and important book. Drawing upon a range of resources the authors identify some early women teachers of chemistry and reveal the excitement and enthusiasm with which girls responded to their pioneering encounters with the subject. It adds a new and personal dimension to our understanding of the history of girls’ scientific education.
'This book has all the strengths of a study that sets out to recover marginalized voices and a ‘forgotten story’. It brings to light evidence, narratives and developments which otherwise would not be seen and in so doing enriches historical analysis. [...] There is much here that will be of considerable interest and value to women’s historians, historians of gender, historians of science and historians of education more broadly.'
'As the book concludes, the “… exciting times documented in previous chapters were soon forgotten, even from the institutional memory of the schools themselves”. The Rayner-Canhams have done a marvellous job in putting this right and showing just how important chemistry was in these schools in this period. It is a fascinating book, and I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the overlap of history, chemistry and education'.