Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Carol Sheriff

Committee Members

Kathrin Levitan

Michael Leruth


Marie Antoinette’s former lady-in-waiting and founder of an internationally acclaimed boarding school for girls, Madame Campan (1752-1822) taught both Napoleon Bonaparte’s stepdaughter and President James Monroe’s eldest daughter. She also published a popular memoir of Marie Antoinette’s life and several educational tracts. While Campan has been largely forgotten today, she is more closely connected to the development of American ideas about female education and republican motherhood than has yet been represented in the historiographical record. The French headmistress carefully crafted an educational system that proved to be influential on the development of American institutional education for girls. Furthermore, the maternal persona that Campan crafted at her school and in her writings took on a life of its own in the hands of nineteenth-century American periodical editors. This thesis examines the impact of Madame Campan’s life and legacy on the way that Americans thought about the role of mothers in civil society and civic life.

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