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Jane Grey SwisshelmAn Unconventional Life, 1815-1884$
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Sylvia D. Hoffert

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780807828816

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807875889_hoffert

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Respectable But Not Genteel

Respectable But Not Genteel

(p.161) Chapter Seven Respectable But Not Genteel
Jane Grey Swisshelm

Sylvia D. Hoffert

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines class issues and discusses Jane Grey Swisshelm's struggle to integrate the meaning of respectability into an expanded version of what it meant to be a “true woman” in U.S. society. It discusses how gentility pervaded the lives of the members of the middle class and examines the differences between claims to respectability and claims to gentility. As a young woman, Jane's claim to middle-class respectability stood on relatively firm ground. In her “Letters to Country Girls” in the Visiter, Jane offered women who lived and worked in the country advice and information that she believed would improve the quality of their lives. Her definition of what it meant to be a country woman had no room for the pretense and display that accompanied the quest for gentility.

Keywords:   respectability, true woman, gentility, Letters to Country Girls, Visiter

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