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Lectures Offered by the Women’s Education Association in Leipzig (1865-1884)

Founded in Leipzig in 1865, the Women’s Education Association was like other groups of its kind in that it offered a combination of entertainment and Sunday school instruction. The lessons aimed to introduce women to a wide range of subjects at a low cost. Co-chaired by the early women’s activist Louise Otto-Peters (1819-1895), the Leipzig Association gradually extended its program to include regular evening courses as well.

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I. 1865 Evening entertainment and Sunday school:

[ . . . ] "For a monthly fee, each member (of the Women's Education Association) receives three tickets, which she is obliged to give

to female workers or other women and girls known to her,
who are unable to afford a refined pleasure,

to attend the “evening entertainment” offered by the association.

Twenty-five of these events are held each year, with admission being permitted only to females.

They offer entertainment and instruction at the same time, the latter by means of one lecture each on topics suitable for broad circles of women, taken from history, nature, literature, etc., always giving special consideration to the association’s purpose:

expanding women’s horizons,
exaltation and inspiration for quiet work hours,
awakening and strengthening [women] in the interest of joyful employment, etc.

Included are recitations of classical and modern poetry, piano and vocal recitals, all performed by women. This is not just an exercise for amateurs but also for budding artists – even well-known ones sometimes perform; the instructive lectures are presented by ladies as well.

Furthermore, a Sunday school for older girls was founded.

Sunday school and the entertainment events at night, guided by the same
principle of humanity and necessary self-help, complement each other.

Here, too, classes are given in elementary sciences,
French, and
female handicrafts

by female instructors – mostly free of charge. Sunday schools have already been recognized everywhere as a necessity for the male sex and accordingly introduced a long time ago; but for females they are still lacking almost everywhere and yet are doubly needed – as the active attendance of these schools shows.”

Source: Louise Otto-Peters, Das Recht der Frauen auf Erwerb [Women’s Right to Earn a Living]. 1866, pp. 80-81.

Original German texts reprinted in Margrit Twellmann, Die Deutsche Frauenbewegung im Spiegel repräsentativer Frauenzeitschriften. Ihre Anfänge und erste Entwicklung [The German Women’s Movement as Reflected in Representative Women's Journals: Its Beginnings and Initial Development], 2 vols., vol. 2, Quellen 1843-1889 [Sources 1843-1889]. Meisenheim am Glan: A. Hain, 1972, pp. 455-56.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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