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Schoolgirl revelations - 1876

Florence Morse Kingsley, author of Bible-based novels.


Florence Morse Kingsley, the novelist, was a student at Wellesley from 1876 to 1879, but left before she could graduate because of trouble with her eyes. While at college she kept a journal. Today’s quote is taken from the entry for this day 15 October 1876. Florence went on to write religious books, including historical novels about the biblical characters Titus and Stephen. Titus won an award and 200,000 copies had to be printed to meet popular demand.


“Mr. Durant talked to us in chapel this morning on the subject of being honest about our domestic work. Of course some girls are used to working and can hurry, while others…don’t even know how to tie their shoestrings or braid their hair properly when they first come…. My work is to dust the center on the first floor. It’s easy, and if I didn’t take lots of time to look at the pictures and palms and things while I am doing it I couldn’t possibly make it last an hour….

“But I’m thorough, so my conscience didn’t prick me a bit. [One of the girls] …cried afterward; she hadn’t swept her corridor for two whole days. Mr. Durant certainly does get down to the roots of things, and if you haven’t a pretty decent conscience about your lessons and everything, you feel as though you had a clear little window right in the middle of your forehead through which he can look in and see the disorder. Some of the girls say they are just paralyzed when he looks at them; but I’m not. I feel like doing things just as well as I can.”


Converse, Florence. The Story of Wellesley.

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