Sarah and Her Sisters: American Missionary Pioneers in Arab Female Education, 1834-1937
By: Stoddard Jr., Robert D
When newly married Sarah Smith arrived in Beirut in 1834, she was appalled by the ignorance and ill treatment of Arab women and girls. Well educated for her times, she was not content just to keep house for her missionary husband. Rather, having taught Mohegan Indians in Connecticut, she, in her two remaining years, opened a small school for girls that began the transformation of education for Arab females. Sarah’s pioneering venture inspired a series of Protestant “sisters,” married and single, to follow in her wake as missionary teachers. Leaving loved ones and the comforts of home behind, they crossed two perilous seas, learned Arabic, and against great odds continued her work in elementary and then secondary and higher education. Sarah’s posthumous memoir was widely read. But the stories of her “sisters” were little known—until now. Here, they are linked in an extraordinary chain of educational achievements despite religious strife, civil war, epidemics, famine, isolation and finally a world war, pandemic and global depression. Regrettably, many “sisters,” like Sarah, paid the ultimate price and were buried abroad. As long as any girls anywhere are denied an education, these stories can inspire teachers of girls and advocates for female education worldwide to persevere. And hopefully coeds at Lebanese American University will be inspired and motivated to excel knowing that your university goes back to Mrs. Smith’s Beirut Female School and that you are the direct beneficiaries of Sarah and her sisters.
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Stoddard Jr., Robert D
Hachette Antoine, Beirut 2020
Feminist Studies / American Missionaries / History