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April 3, 2020

An American Female Teacher’s Contract From 1923

This sample female teacher’s contract from 1923 reminds us that, “We’ve come a long way, baby!” It stipulates some truly jaw-dropping rules. Women aren’t allowed to get married, keep company with men, leave town, ride in cars with boys (except their father or brother), drink, smoke or even leave their house between the hours of 8 P.M. and 6 A.M. And the most baffling rule is probably the one forbidding women from “loitering in downtown ice-cream stores.”

The image of the contract was posted on social websites about 5 years ago; and while the authenticity of the document is yet to be determined, it has sent people into a frenzy over the sexist terms. Among the provisions of the 1923 contract are:
  1. Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
  2. Not to keep company with men.
  3. To be at home between the hours of 8 pm and 6 am unless in attendance at school functions.
  4. Not to loiter in downtown ice-cream stores.
  5. Not to leave town at any time without permission of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
  6. Not to smoke cigarettes. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found smoking.
  7. Not to drink beer, wine or whiskey. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher if found drinking beer, wine or whiskey.
  8. Not to ride in a carriage or automobile with any man except her brother or father.
  9. Not to dress in bright colors.
  10. Not to dye her hair.
  11. To wear at least two petticoats.
  12. Not to wear dresses more than two inches above the ankle.
  13. To Keep the schoolroom clean:
    A. To sweep the classroom floor at least once daily.
    B. To scrub the classroom floor with hot water and soap at least once weekly.
    C. To clean the blackboard at least once daily.
    D. To start the fire at 7:00 am so the room will be warm at 8:00 when the children arrive.


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