In preparation for travelling to Leiden, The Netherlands for the upcoming European Social Sciences History Conference (ESSHC) in March, 2019, I’ve been working on a new paper focused on the history of girls in rural British Columbia.
This paper offers a close historical analysis of the letter writing of girls and young women in the context of their schooling in the Elementary Correspondence School (ECS). In 1919 British Columbia (BC) became the first Canadian province to offer official elementary school courses by correspondence to rural children who lived too far from a brick and mortar school, or who could not access one due to difficult terrain.
During the formative period of the ECS, girls as students wrote many letters to their teachers in the ECS articulating their hopes and dreams for their future. Their letters are a glimpse into the value of schooling in the past, particularly during an era when rural girls were often left out of, or pushed out of, formal schooling. As young dreamers, the girls who wrote have much to tell us about their world views, the value they placed on education, and the limiting social context that could at time keep them in their place.