thumbnail of American woman in fact and fiction; The womanly woman
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The following program is produced and recorded in the studios of KPFA Berkeley California under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. We present the American woman in fact in fiction from Colonial Times to the present day series of 13 programs written and directed by Virginia Maynard and produced by Virginia Maynard and Charles Levy. Part 9 the womanly woman the civil war in the period immediately following it brought a great change in the life of the American woman from a relatively simple agrarian community in which the home was the center of woman's activities. America emerged from the conflict as a full fledged industrial civilization offering women a variety of economic opportunities outside the home. Thousands of women had gone to work during the war selling men's places in the factories and businesses taking over the fields of nursing and school teaching. When the war was over many women stayed on in their positions with the
expanding industries needing all the workers they could get and the growing public school system requiring more and more teachers. The feeling that women should stay at home and depend on their male relatives for support gradually diminished. Thus a certain amount of independence was foisted upon the American Woman by the social and economic upheaval within the country and since it was a matter of economic necessity this independence soon came to be accepted as one of the national virtues of American women. But the old school of thought which held that women were weak dependant creatures requiring the constant protection of men persisted for some time. Indeed in conservative circles in the country this attitude was cultivated. The arbiters of American taste detested the raw new commercialism and everything connected with it especially vulgarly independent women. They made a courageous last stand to save the American Woman by inaugurating a cult of woman worship in the country worship that is of the right kind of woman. This was the woman
whose manners were modeled upon the European code of behavior and who was modest social facing morally superior and above all things innocent of life. The American men would protect women from the cross or contacts with life and thus save for themselves women whom they could reverence. But the American woman went her way completely unaware that she was being say. William Deane hols in 1879 wrote a very entertaining novel The lady of the Aroostook in which you showed how far the average American woman already had departed from the conservative American standard of behavior in the following scene from the lady of the rose took Lydia the lady has just departed for Europe. Her elderly aunt and uncle are discussing the propriety of her making this boy. Hand me that pan APF Ah then I'll be shot and while I see it you're lookin kind of be good to day. I suppose you're thinking about Lydia.
Yes Mariah be the place don't seem the same without her in it. Well we knew we'd miss her before ever we let her go. But we couldn't very well let her miss a trip to Italy just because we'd be lonesome because the chance of a lifetime for that. Yes but I've been thinking ever since I put her on the ship and Liddy in exactly a trial anymore. She's a woman grown as you may say. She's a woman as far forth as that goes. What put that into your head. Well I don't know as I know. But it's like this. I got to thinking whether she might get to feeling rather lonely on the vine which without any other woman to talk to. I guess she's going to feel lonely enough at times anyway poor thing. But I told her if she wanted advice or help about anything just to go to Stewart is that Mrs. Bland that spent the summer at the park as last year was always telling how they went to the stewardess for most everything and she gave her five dollars in gold when they got into Boston. I shouldn't want let it get so much as that but I should want you should give something as
long as it's a custom. They don't have them on sale and vessels kept in genocide and they don't have more steamers have what a stewardess is. They've got a cabin boy. Well then she can go to cook I suppose. It wouldn't matter which she went to I presume the cook's a man a black man. Well who in time will she go to then. I declare for it I don't know. I don't know what I haven't thought it out fairly before but just now when I was picking the piece for you my mind got to dwell in on lady. And then it come to me all at once. There she was the only one among the whole ship. Paul and I I didn't know but what you might think it rather of a strange position for oh I guess Liddy did know how to conduct herself wherever she was. She's a born lady if ever there was one. But what I think is the only thing makes me feel easier is what the captain said about the young man. What young man I declare for I don't believe I told Job in support about it. Well as we was driving up to the depot with the captain
we met two young men and the captain asked them Are you go no not to go on just that way. And they said we're gone. And he said when you come on a boat and he told him he was going to haul out this mornin at 3 o'clock and they asked what TOG and he told them and they fixed it up between them all then that they was to come aboard from the tug when she got the ship outside. And that's what I suppose they did the captain he said to me had mentioned it before because he won't sure they'd go to that many. You get my first rate of a character there from Boston he said. And they've been across to Europe a full two three times. Well who why. It's the minister. Call me. Mr. Goodloe Good morning good morning Miss Mariah. Come right in Mr. Goodloe let father take you had come in the second room it's cooler in there. Have a seat. Thank you. I'm glad you happened by just when you did. There's some not on our minds we want to talk to you about. It's about
Lady you know she's going to Italy to stay with her own practice of singing and I just learned the boat she's on don't carry another woman passenger or crew you know taken close to six weeks to get to dry east and then she'll telegraph the folks at Venus to come meet her and stay on the bootlegger there seems to have telegraphs and railroads out there same as anyway. Curious they say the folks are real kind and polite too when you get used to him. But what's been kind of bothering us was Lady being alone on that ship about any woman I mean all they had was the captain. He's as nice a man as I ever see his wife spend two or three varieties with him in the Aroostook and he'll know just how to have ladies comfort looked after. He showed me the state room she's going to have you know over and above large but it's pretty as a pink. He had it fixed up for his wife and he lets me have it all from home. The first mate is a fine appearing man too. Some of the sailors look pretty rough but I guess it was as much their clothes as anything. And you know it let it have a great deal to do with them anyway.
But there's two young men a lot. And I don't know but what they have some other. What do you think Mr. Goodloe. Well I think Lydia's influence upon those around her will be beneficial. Whatever her situation in life may be their father. You're all right you're right. I rejoiced with you when this opportunity for Lydia's improvement offered and I am not disposed to feel anxious as to the ways in the ME. Lydia is no fool. I have observed in her a dignity sort of all thought and he very remarkable in one of her years. I guess the boys at the school down to the mill village found she had authority enough. That's what I told father in the first place. I guess Liddy know how to conduct herself wherever she was. Just the words I use I don't deny it tomorrow I don't deny it. I ain't afraid of any harm come on the lady any moment you will be. But what I said was wouldn't you feel kind of strange sort of lost as you may say among
so many and she the only one she will know how to adapt herself to circumstances. I was conversing last summer with that Mrs. Bland who boarded at Mr. Parker. Oh yes and she told me that girls in Europe are brought up with no habits of self-reliance whatever. And that young ladies are never seen on the streets alone in France and Italy don't you think that Mrs. Bland exaggerated. She talked a great deal. I should be sorry if Lydia ever lost anything of that native confidence of hers in her own judgment and her ability to take care of herself under any circumstances. And I do not think she will. She never seemed conceited to me. But she was the most self-reliant girl I ever saw. You hit them Mr. Goodnow said just spirit is she all always had. It was so from the father. I used to go to my heart to see that little thing lookin after herself every way and not asking anybody's help.
Just as quiet and proud about it. She's her mother all over. And yesterday when she said here waiting for the stage. Why Mr. Goodloe she had any more idea of backing out than that. Well I reckon there ain't going to any harm come to her. I shouldn't be surprised if right now ladies got those young men in the palm of her hand just like she had the boys down to the village and in the mean time on the deck of the Aroostook the young person who was the subject of so much concern back in South Bradfield is merrily playing a game of shuffleboard while the two young men from Boston stand bravely by and discuss a regular situation of which she herself is blissfully unaware. It's simply incredible Staniford who in the world can be oh I don't know. Who on earth could she be traveling all by herself like this. It does put us in a deuced
awkward position. Having a young girl like that aboard for the trip. Why don't you cut down them. Here comes that other passenger The captain took aboard at the last moment. That little fellow he pretends not to notice. He's always trying to strike up a conversation. I find most offensive where we're not going to skate in this time. He's coming right toward us. Young gentlemen I see you're smoking. Would one of you oblige me with a light. So Mr. Hicks I bet you never expected to find a lady passenger on board did you now. One never knows what one's fellow passengers are going to be. She's probably some relation of the captain. Why that's just the joke of it. I've been pumping the cabin boy and he says the captain never saw our till yesterday. She's an up country school marm and she came down here with their grandfather yesterday. She's going out to meet friends of hers in Venice. Her name's Lydia. Oh pardon me Mr. Hicks Dunham by the way didn't you say
something about wanting to see the captain. Oh yes indeed. But there it comes right over there. Perhaps we can see him no you will excuse us won't you Mr. Hicks. Oh sure that's all right but I want to get in that game over there anyhow. I've kind of taken a fancy to that girl I say misleading. How about another player. It's more fun with me. See how easy it is. You know see you later. The insolence of the misleading. I would like to knock his block off. Well if she doesn't my that's just it. She so use it unaware. Fancy her treating that wretched little guy code as though he were a gentleman. You know the condition he was in when he came aboard last night and I could smell his breath just now. Actually though his behavior so far hasn't given you any grounds for reproaching he better say that it doesn't in the future. You know what I think Dunham.
We're going to have to set ourselves up as protectors of this girl in the good old American way. She's plainly one of those cases of supernatural innocence which wouldn't occur in any country of the world but ours and we are going to have to kept this innocence. You know you're a good fellow Staniford not at all. I call myself simply a human bean with the elemental instincts of a gentleman. This girl has been placed in a position which could be made very painful to her. It seems to me it's all apart to prevent it from doing so. Jennifer this is very lucky I had some wild notion of the kind myself but I'm so glad you spoke of it first. Well never mind. We must make her feel that there is nothing irregular uncommon in her being here as she is. I don't know how the matters to be managed exactly but it can be done. The first thing is to cow that nuisance Hicks yonder pumping the cabin boy about as a little snot. Look here Dunham it's such a satisfaction to me to think
of putting that fellow under foot that I leave you all the credit of saving the young lady's feelings. I should like to begin stamping on him at once. It seems to me you have made a beginning already. I confess I wish you hadn't such heavy books in there you will do him good. Confound him. But just look at her. She certainly seems able to take care of herself. Oh you certainly are delicate but cautions for saving her feelings won't be thrown away upon a young lady who can play shuffleboard and ring toss on the deck of the roast duck with as much self-possession as though she were playing croquet on her native turf at South Bradfield Well that's the American hinterland for you. Actually though she has no idea what her position here aboard ship means. Their ideal of propriety our country is very different from what I was in Boston and in the sophisticated world. They think evil of different things. We are somewhat Europeanized you know. We have our own little borrowed anxieties about the free association of young people. They have none
whatsoever. It's quite likely that this girl finds nothing at all strange in Hicks's familiarity. She is used to such informality from her back country acquaintances but she has never run across a character like Hicks in her young life venture. It's impossible for that wretch to think reverently of a young girl even though he is an American. Where you already worship Staniford I can see that as you do all the women you know. You know one of the most hopelessly American of our species in that respect. You have always held a more than sacred waited upon them worn yourself out in their interest as do all true Americans. Just look at the homage of those uncouth sailors running to fetch your rings and blocks whenever she makes a wild shopped catering to waiting on her foot. Cook the cabin boy. Even the captain. Well I believe this sort of worship is every woman's view in her girlhood at least and I don't want this girl to suffer a moment's pain from anything I or anyone else may say or do you
know he is the captain. Good afternoon good afternoon Captain Jenness afternoon gentlemen I wanted to ask you how you like your accommodations. We find them excellent though we had expected to have separate quarters where oh I was in hopes that I could let you have a room apiece but I had another passenger jumped on me the last minute I suppose you saw what was the matter with Mr.. We certainly did. Well I don't generally talk my passengers over with one another but I thought I'd speak with you about him. I found a note today evening of my agents with his father. He's just been on a spree a regular two weeks tear on the old gentleman didn't know what to do with him any longer. He thought it sent him to see a voyage and see what would come of it. And he played hard with me to take him. He worked the way it made in July I couldn't say no. I argued in my own mind that I couldn't get anything to drink on my ship and that he'd behave himself as long as he was sober. Did you think only of us in deciding whether you should take him. I suppose you mean the young lady. Yes.
There didn't seem to get my bearings just right. She's more of a young lady than I thought she was when her grandfather first come down and talk to sending it over with me. He was always speaking about his little girl you know and I got the idea she was about 13 or 11 maybe I thought the child might be some trouble on the voyage but I think so I'm used to children and I guess I can manage. When I first see her on the wharf yesterday bless your soul that most knocked me down. I never believed she was half so tall nor half so good looking. Well there I was with no time to back out the old man wouldn't understand would side there was the young lady herself. I thought what if it was one of my own girls. And I made up my mind that she wouldn't know it from anything I said or did that she wasn't just as much at home on my ship but she would be in my house to be sure it ain't quite the same thing. Not quite. No it ain't. But think Saja ladies of The Lady of the world over and a gentleman's a gentleman. And as for that other fellow
there if I can take care I am I think I'd better stop going to see you all together and go into the coast and trade. Well good day gentlemen. I'll see you after a bit. Good day sir. Oh Captain Jenness. Yeah my friend and I had been talking this little matter over just before you came up here let me say that I'm rather proud of having reason in much the same direction as yourself. Yeah good enough. I thought I knew you through Merrick and gentleman. I am proud to know you. Good day sir. Of course with true 19th century gentlemen aboard the Aroostook plus the captain and the crew. Lydia's very effectively protected not only from the relatively mild annoyance of the young gentlemanly Mr. Hicks but from learning the impropriety of her position aboard the ship. But during the course of the voyage young Staniford falls in love with a girl. And being a faithful observer of
correct form upon every occasion he decides to wade into Lydia's with her relatives in Italy before proposing to her. And so parts from the girl without declaring himself. Lydia arrives at the home of her aunt Irwin who is married to an Englishman and is an inveterate believer in the European way of doing things. And she soon learns that from the conventional point of view she's been guilty of a grave breach of decorum in traveling alone upon a ship on which there were only men aboard. To say nothing of becoming familiar enough with one of them to fall in love with him when young Stanford fails to arrive at the Irwin's home on the appointed day according to his promise Lydia begins to believe that he has only been amusing himself with her as her aunt fears and by the time he does arrive some five days late she has decided to follow her aunt's advice and put him out of her mind in the following scene just after Stanford's visit has been announced with is conventionally proper request for an interview with the girl's aunt Mrs. Erwin who was somewhat indisposed is
in her room and Lydia is with her. Lydia I will not see him. No of course not it wouldn't have told a thing. Besides you just for me to come here for a moment it and wait outside until I send for you. Yes and. Well my dear Lydia Sartain sure something terribly important has come up. Really no don't say a word until I tell you. Now I want you to think of the worst thing you possibly can. Good heavens. You may as well know first as last Henshaw and I want you to prepare yourself for it. I didn't tell you before because but no I must since you will have to help me. Lydia has come over on that ship alone with three young men and not the shadow not the ghost of another woman on board. Well well what matter. They were all Americans together you know. And what difference does that make.
You know as if they were English because you don't expect your countrymen. Oh don't be vexed my dear. I rather like it you know it strikes me as a genuine bit of American civilization American civilization Oh Hinshaw Is it possible after all I've told you that you still think any one but a girl from the greenest little country place could do a thing like that. Well of course my dear. But then what's wrong with being from the greenest little country place in America the true American I fancy isn't to be found in the city's old Henschel Why must you generalize like that. What would you say if I told you one of the young men on that ship had been making love to Lydia. Well you know I wouldn't be in the least surprised she's so uncommonly pretty. I suppose that engaged the gentleman is from a very good Boston family and would no more think of engaging himself to a young girl without the knowledge of her friends than Len you would. Besides he's been in Europe a great deal and knows the proper thing to do. Oh I wish I could meet some Americans who hadn't been in Europe. I would like to see what you call
the simon pure American. As for the young man's not engaging himself it seems to me he didn't avail himself of his national privileges. I should certainly have done it in his place if I'd been an American. Well if you'd been an American you wouldn't cry because an American would have had too much delicacy. Oh I don't understand. Oh I know you don't Henshaw and that's where you show yourself an Englishman. Really you're beginning to cry. Come on R.. I'd like that much better than your cringing to the effete customs of Europe. All that is neither here nor there. The question is how to receive this Mr. Staniford. He's downstairs now. He should have been here five days ago and he's asked for me. But of course he's really come to see Lydia and I think he's going to propose to her terms. How does Lydia regard him. Oh there's no question about that. Poor thing she's dead in love with him and can't understand why you didn't propose on shipboard. I thought she would go out of her mind these last few days when he didn't come. Now I must say I thought he had just been
flirting with her. But now that he's here I'm sure he must have some good excuse. What must we do Henschel. Do you know his family. I think I do. Are they nice people. Haven't I told you they were good Boston family. Well upon my word I don't see that we've got to take a toll. It's up to her and say Yes yes I suppose you're right. Tell Lydia she can come in now please. Yes. And when they see an idea I can't see him. It wouldn't be decent to keep him waiting while I dress. You must see him Lydia. Yes you know someone must. On second thought I believe I should send you even if I were quite ready to go myself. This affair has been carried on so far on the American plan and I think I'll let you finish it without my interference as your uncle said when I told him you were all Americans together. Mr. Staniford has come to see you though he asks for me and I want you to excuse me to him. That's perfectly proper. Well what would you what must I know Lydia I won't tell you a thing. I might have
advised you when you first came but now I know. Well I think I've lived too long in Europe to be of use in such a case. I won't tell you how to me to know what to say that I don't deserve you. I will be just. Oh no you mustn't my idea. It won't do at all to be just with men poor fellows. Kiss me Lydia. Now go to him. LADY Yeah Mrs. Erwin is not well. And she don't talk to me of Mrs. Irwin it was you I wanted to see. You know it. Are you well do you. I don't know where to begin I ought to have been here five days ago I don't know what you think of me. And before I can ask you I must tell you why I asked you if I could come here in the first place. You are all the world to me and have been since I saw you. It seems a ridiculously unnecessary thing to say I've been acting and living it so long and I can't imagine now why I didn't tell you so at once I
thought I was coming here to explain why I hadn't come sooner but I needn't do that unless unless. Oh answer me something for pity's sake. I did care for you you know I do you know. Yes I know it. Lydia tried to make me believe you cared for me by everything you did and I didn't believe you then and I believed you afterwards when I didn't know what to believe. But it seems that you didn't believe it yourself that I I don't know what you mean you took a week to think. You know you have come too late too late. You can't mean listen to me. I want to tell you I don't wish to know what made you break your word. It isn't that you make me wait and suffer. But you knew all the things I should find out after I got here and how I should feel. Oh I can never forgive you for that. Nothing but a case of life and death. It was a case of life and death. Oh have you been hurt. Not I don't know him. Oh he fell and hurt his head the night you left.
We went down to the wharf. I wanted to see you again before you started. I couldn't leave you. Why didn't you write to him. I did write but I never got to know it wasn't posted through a cruel blunder and no. I find that you don't care. Oh how can you doubt me. You adopted me. I brought the letter with me to prove my truth. Oh I know it. It I was wrong to suspect you ever I'm sorry I did. But there's something else Mr. Staniford since I came here I've been learning things I didn't know before. They've changed the whole world to know how I'm sorry for that. But if they haven't changed you the world may go no. Not if we're to live in it. It will have to be known how we met what will people say. They will laugh. I don't think they will in my presence. I don't want you to feel bound by anything that's happened. You can go
perfectly free but I don't want to go free. I could bear the laugh alone. But if people laughed at you you wouldn't thought of me in a slighting way. Oh my darling oh you were all so good. You didn't let me. See that there was anything strange about it. Good heavens we only did what it was our precious and sacred privilege to do. Don't torture yourself like this. It's all over. It's past its present and it will always be forever the dearest and best thing in life. Do you believe that I love you. And do you believe that I wouldn't for all the world change anything that's been. I do believe you. Yes. Thus in Lydia and the lady of the arrow stalk William Dean Howells created the first American Girl with the ideal American virtues. Independence self-reliance confidence spirit
strength of character and womanliness it is evident that Howells approved of this new American woman was emerging in the late 19th century. He liked the new traits of character which he was developing under the democratic tradition. Her directness and honesty and her independent spirit. But he was not yet quite willing to allow her to stand alone. He believed that it was only through a tacit conspiracy of men to protect women from the rougher side of life that they could remain creatures worthy of veneration and halls like the rest of his generation believed in the worship of women. That was part nine of the American woman in fact in fiction from Colonial Times to the present day. A series of thirteen programs written and directed by Virginia Maynard. The cast included Charles Levy Eileen of Virginia Maynard Collin Edwards William Matheson Martin punch Angela Goldsby and Edwin Smith. Engineering was by David L. Talcott the American woman in fact and fiction was
American woman in fact and fiction
The womanly woman
Producing Organization
pacifica radio
KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-gb1xj333).
Episode Description
The new American girl appears in literature: dramatization from William Dean Howells' Lady of the Aroostook.
Series Description
Thirteen half-hour programs illustrating with dramatization the changing status of women in America from colonial times to the present day, plus a one-hour panel discussion on modern-day problems.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Actor: Levy, Charles
Actor: Goldsby, Angela
Actor: Mawson, C.A.
Actor: Matheson, William
Actor: Smith, Edwin
Director: Maynard, Virginia
Producing Organization: pacifica radio
Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
Writer: Maynard, Virginia
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-19-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:10
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “American woman in fact and fiction; The womanly woman,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 23, 2023,
MLA: “American woman in fact and fiction; The womanly woman.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 23, 2023. <>.
APA: American woman in fact and fiction; The womanly woman. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from