138 Old-time Schools and School-books
women came to be regarded with marked disfavor by English gentlemen.
In our own country, also, while the seventeenth-century girls to some extent attended the public schools, they gradually dropped out. The early school laws did not recognize them at all, expressly stating that " the word c children ' is to be interpreted to mean c boys.'' There was no controversy on the subject. It simply seems to have been thought unnecessary that girls should be instructed in the public schools. Nevertheless, either at the dame schools or at home, they nearly all learned at least to read and sew. Writing was held to be much less important, and not by any means an essential accomplishment for females in common life. Scarcely one in a dozen women could write in 1700, and of those whose names appear in the recorded deeds of- the early part of the eighteenth century less than forty per cent sign their names. All the rest make their mark. Even at the time of the Revolution many of the patriot wives and mothers could not write.
As an example of feminine disadvantages it is worthy of note that the town of Northampton, now one of our most famous educational centres, voted in 1788 to be at no expense for the schooling of girls, and they were not admitted to its public schools until 1802. President Quincy of Harvard College, in his history of Boston, says that in 1790 Boston girls were allowed to attend the public schools in the summer months only, and not then unless there were seats left vacant by boys. This semi-exclusion lasted until 1822, when Boston became a city. The girls