The Rise of Women’s Modern Schooling in Late Qing China (1840–1911)

2009.第37卷第1–2期(Vol. 37 Nos. 1–2).pp. 89–117


The Rise of Women’s Modern Schooling in Late Qing China (1840–1911)


Xiaoyi LIU(劉曉藝)


The rise of women’s modern schooling in late Qing China was deemed to be, by the historical trend of modern China, a progress that coincided with China’s modernization and national self-strengthening movement after the humiliating defeat of the Opium War. This article is an examination of this process from 1840 to 1911, which had undergone three stages: (a) 1840–1898, dominated by Western Protestant missionaries, who had founded pioneering girls’ boarding schools in major cities and treaty ports. Women’s schooling was regarded as an effective way to disseminate Christian doctrines and to cultivate indigenous female evangelists; (b) 1898–1907, dominated by China’s patriotic gentry, who had established women’s schools all over the country. They saw women’s schooling as an effective tool to cultivate “future mother of a superior citizenry”; (c) 1907–1911, dominated by the Qing government, which had incorporated women’s schooling into the national education scheme. The policy of promoting women’s schooling was adopted as one of the reformative efforts to save the declining Qing regime from extinction.