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From "frail and pail" to the Gibson Girl: women's health, fashion and athletics in the nineteenth century.

By Eric Goodson

This essay traces the changing definitions of female beauty through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as well as the ways that girls' schools and women's colleges affected those definitions. The female body was the location of many cultural battles in the nineteenth century. Society's expectations, hopes and fears were writ large across women's bodies in this age, from their physical shapes, to their clothing, to their activities and health. Schools like Dana Hall entered this debate early on, promoting healthy body images, fashions, and lifestyles. Eventually, by the early twentieth century, female educational institutions had so fundamentally altered the national definition of the ideal female form, that, for many Americans, the ideal women had become a Dana girl.

Winifred Lowry Post's Purpose and Personality: the Story of Dana Hall. This chapter focuses on the school's growth under Miss Helen Temple Cooke. This version has portions taken out that discusses winter tradition. (PDF)
Grimes' unpublished history

Mildred Grimes' unpublished history of Dana Hall. The following are typed and handwritten notes on the Cooke years. (PDF)

When Girls Came Out to Play

Warner, Patricia Campbell.  When the Girls Came Out to Play: the Birth of American Sportswear.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2006.


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