Booker T. Washington: Up From Slavery: An Autobiography

Chapter 5. The Reconstruction Period (continued)

In Washington I saw girls whose mothers were earning their living by laundrying. These girls were taught by their mothers, in rather a crude way it is true, the industry of laundrying. Later, these girls entered the public schools and remained there perhaps six or eight years. When the public school course was finally finished, they wanted more costly dresses, more costly hats and shoes. In a word, while their wants have been increased, their ability to supply their wants had not been increased in the same degree. On the other hand, their six or eight years of book education had weaned them away from the occupation of their mothers. The result of this was in too many cases that the girls went to the bad. I often thought how much wiser it would have been to give these girls the same amount of maternal training--and I favour any kind of training, whether in the languages or mathematics, that gives strength and culture to the mind --but at the same time to give them the most thorough training in the latest and best methods of laundrying and other kindred occupations.

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