Victorian Home Child Care: Nannies, Governesses, and Tutors

Figure 1.--This 1870s sterocard shows a giberbess teaching three girls at home in a classroom set up for instruction. Younger children were cared for by nannies. One they were old enough, a governess was hored to teach. Earlier this was all the schooling a girl from an affluent family mihht receive other tghan finishing school. By the 1870s, attitutdes toward women's education has begun tocnge, at least in the West. Source: H K Logan Real Photo Stereoview, Philadelphia.

Very young children in aell-to-do Victorian houshold were cared for ny nannies in the nursery. Nannies were low-status individuals with little or no academic education. They were chosen based on experienceand temperment. Many became attached to the children and the children to them. This was the case because many Victorian mothers took their social life more seriously than their parental role. In many cases the children, as a result, were more bonded on their nannies than their mothers. Nannies thus became valued family retainers, but basically associated with servants but on a more personal level than the other servants because of the strong attachments during childhood. The nannies did not, however, have an important role in schooling. This was the role of the governess. We are not sure just when the role of governess, but there is no doubt that the governess was a fixture in 19th cenury Victorian society clealy expressed in literature. There are endless examples from Jane Eyre to Vanity Fair of the governess addressed in Victorian litrature. And one of the issues involved is the poorly defined social status of the governess. The hoverness was less attached to the family than the nanny. She was not part of the family, but also not an ordinary servant. Unlike nannies, the governess may dine with the family. She was an educated woman, a necesary qualification for the job. She was usually more educated than the women of he household. She was often from affluent families that had fallen on hard times. The role of governess was a rare occupation onen to educated women. The governess was hired to educate girls and yungerboys who had outgrown the nursery. The governess might say with girls throughout their teens. This might be the only academic schooling girls received other thn finishing schools. Gir;s' school did not begin opening until the mid-19th century and many families throughhout the century preferedto keep girls at home. Boys at some stage were sent to school. This varied from family to family. For boys kept at home for an extended eriod, the governess was eventually replaced with male tutors. Here income levelwas a factor. Nale tutors comnded higher salaries than female governesses.


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Created: 5:26 PM 1/15/2018
Last updated: 5:26 PM 1/15/2018