By Edith Guerrier
The tale of the existence and several other careers of Edith Guerrier, who embodied the beliefs of the "New ladies" in turn-of-the century the USA
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Extra resources for An independent woman: the autobiography of Edith Guerrier
Often out of economic necessity, new women replaced traditional family roles of wife, mother, or spinster aunt with improvised careers in new fields. The availability of higher education for thousands of young women, representing nearly 37 percent of college students by the turn of the century, led to lifelong careers for many women, not just temporary jobs designed to fill the time between school and marriage. 1 The new woman who, like Edith Guerrier, chose to remain single also created a new kind of family unconnected by ties of kinship.
Almost as soon as her father gave up the struggle of trying to make a home for her, she took on the task of trying to make a home for him, which became increasingly difficult as he declined in health and spirits. Her search for home finally ended in 1915 with the building of the Paul Revere Pottery on Nottingham Hill. " Both young women of native stock who migrated to the city from declining farms and young women immigrants from Nova Scotia and Europe found themselves on their own. They could not depend on families with limited incomes to support them, nor did they always see marriage as a viable economic solution.
69). It was her example as a new woman not dependent on anyone else for economic support that she presented to be emulated. Undoubtedly Edith Guerrier's unusual childhood kept her from trying to exercise social control over the young Jewish and Italian women of the North End by limiting their aspirations to practical goals. Instead, she wanted each woman to experience high culture. Guerrier's childhood and youth were filled with so many discontinuities in location, social class, and economic level that the only conclusion she could have reached was that achieving quality of life was up to her and, by extension, that any young woman's future lay in her own hands.
An independent woman: the autobiography of Edith Guerrier by Edith Guerrier