GHDI logo

Financing the Upbringing and Education of a Bourgeois Family (1860-1890)

This excerpt from a 1921 scholarly study documenting the family budget of a higher civil servant from 1860 to 1890 shows the costs involved in raising and educating children in a manner befitting the status of a bourgeois family. The educated bourgeoisie spared no expense in securing their sons’ training for a profitable occupation, and the cost of raising and schooling German girls was hardly less expensive. Few upper-middle-class parents, however, were interested in providing their daughters with an education that would lead to professional independence. As the researcher notes near the end of the report, parents did not expect to recoup their investment in a daughter. Expectations were different, however, for a “productive” son once he was gainfully employed outside the home.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 4

O. was born in 1826; he completed his law studies in 1850 and got married in 1852; he held several positions as a judge and then in the upper civil service – since 1862 permanently in Berlin, initially as a member of a Land Central Authority. In 1878 he was appointed head of this body; in 1882 he became Real Privy Councilor with the title of Excellency. His annual income including housing benefits was 6,000 marks in 1863, 9,900 marks in 1873, and 22,500 marks in 1889; overall he earned 389,225 marks between 1863 and 1889, which amounts to an average of 14,416 marks per year. On top of this was added from 1863 to 1889 income from secondary offices, capital interest, bonus payments, etc., amounting to a total of 69,804 marks. From the source, which utilizes the account books of the civil servant’s family to outline an accurate picture of the family’s income, expenses, and way of life, the following items are printed here: a) the cost of law studies, including one-year military service and articles in the years 1870-1877 (first son), as well as b) the total expenses for upbringing and education of all three sons (two jurists, one forester) from 1859 to 1889, and finally, c) some information on the education of the daughters. Expenses for upbringing and education of the five children during these 31 years amounted to almost 50 percent of the family’s entire expenses:

a) The education of a jurist: In September 1870 the oldest son, aged 17 at the time, passed his Abitur*. The following items are listed among the accessories for the [graduation] ceremony: a hat for 2½ thalers, gloves for ½ thaler, and a bow tie for 10 groschen. Three and a half thalers were recorded for the exam fee. As it was the first time that one of the sons left the stern restrictions of school life to enter into academic freedom, the father did not deem it advisable to grant him complete independence at once. One semester in the parents’ home was meant to serve as a transition. Matriculation in Berlin cost 6 thalers, 18 thalers were entered as tuition fees per semester, 4 thalers 20 groschen for ex-matriculation. In April 1871 the young student of law enrolled at Heidelberg University. His bank draft for the four months of the summer semester (mid-April to mid-August) amounted to 211 thalers, i.e., an average of 1 thaler 22 groschen per day; this had to cover living expenses (except for clothing) and study expenses. For the five months of the winter semester, his father transferred 235 thalers. During the semester break the son was allowed to go on a journey to Switzerland, for which 100 thalers were allocated. The father, however, considered a visit to the parental home unnecessary that year. The son spent the last three semesters of his university career at home again. Here he received a quarterly allowance of 50 thalers, which had to cover expenses for clothing and miscellaneous items but not tuition fees. In the fourth semester tuition fees amounted to 32 thalers 27 groschen, in the fifth semester 11 thalers 15 groschen, and no fees for the last semester were listed.

* High school graduation exam – trans.

first page < previous   |   next > last page