This edited collection traces the development of girls’ secondary education over three centuries in a way that highlights national peculiarities without losing sight of ideas and debates that cut across borders. Contributors follow very similar formats, exploring historiography and key themes: religion, coeducation, the ideal of domestic motherhood, and politics. The greatest single overarching theme is what the editors describe as “the dialectic between education as a conservative force and as a force for change as expressed in both democratic and authoritarian political agendas across Europe” (p. 2). Political battleground that it was, however, there emerges from the essays as a whole a sense of girls’ secondary education as changing gradually and owing perhaps more to social, economic, and cultural causes than high political ones.

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Copyright © 2010 H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. This article first appeared on H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences (October 2010).

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