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The Saloon That Became a School:

The Saloon That Became a School:

Free Kindergartens in Northern California

Chapter:
(p.143) Five The Saloon That Became a School
Source:
A City for Children
Author(s):
Marta Gutman
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226156156.003.0005

Asserting the right to childhood, women in California added free kindergartens to the charitable landscape, starting in the late 1870s. They followed Friedrich Frobel, Elizabeth Peabody, and Caroline Severance to argue children learned through play; they also wanted to socialize working class children. After locating the kindergarten movement in global culture, the story returns to San Francisco where Kate Wiggin opened a free kindergarten in Tar Flat, the first on the West Coast. The charitable public eagerly supported it, and other women followed in Oakland, including Elizabeth Betts, Wiggin’s student at the California Kindergarten Training School. As the Women’s Christian Temperance Union escalated its campaign in California, Betts repurposed a saloon, turning a disreputable male preserve into a woman’s space, the West Oakland Free Kindergarten. During the devastating 1890s depression, as a new mood flowered in California politics and the Women’s Congress convened, Elizabeth Watt decided to expand the school.

Keywords:   right to childhood, Friedrich Frobel, Elizabeth Peabody, Caroline Severance, Kate Wiggin, Elizabeth Betts, California Kindergarten Training School, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, West Oakland Free Kindergarten, Women’s Congress

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