Maggie Boyd’s World: After Graduation

Ed note: This post concludes the series of blog posts by PACE students Karah Finan and Matt Wesley about Margaret Boyd, Ohio University’s first alumna. We thank them for their contributions! Tweeting the diary, along with occasional guest posts, will continue through the rest of this year.

The end of senior year at college is an uncertain time; concerns about jobs, moving and finances tend to be front and center. One hundred thirty-nine years ago, things were not much different for Maggie Boyd. She wrote about a mixture of emotions—excitement in starting her teaching career and apprehension about moving across the state to northern Ohio.

Maggie was fortunate to be hired to teach in Monroeville just two weeks after her June 26, 1873 graduation (Diary). Moving there in August, she successfully passed the teaching certification exam.

Friday, August 29, 1873. “We attend examination. I am examined in reading, writing, geometry, algebra, arithmetic, botany, natural philosophy, geology and grammar. I get a certificate for two years.”

Monroeville, a northern Ohio town, was completely new to Maggie. She often expressed loneliness, being apart from friends and family.

On one occasion after hosting her sister Kate in Monroeville, she wrote:

Saturday, October 11, 1873. “In the morning I go down to the depot with Kate…I feel a little lonely after Kate leaves.”

After teaching in Monroeville for two years, Maggie returned to Athens where she became the first woman to be awarded a Ohio University master’s degree—just two years after becoming the first woman to ever graduate from the university (Transcript).

Following receiving her master’s degree, Maggie moved to Cincinnati to begin teaching at the Cincinnati Wesleyan College for Young Women in 1876. The college was co-founded by Maggie’s uncle, Dr. Elliot, and there Maggie instructed students in a wide range of general courses including mathematics. According to her supervisor at Cincinnati Wesleyan, Rev. David H. Moore, Maggie was, “conscientious, capable, ambitious, [and] untiring… a model teacher” (Bulletin).

In 1884 Maggie moved to Martinsville, Indiana to serve as the principal of the high school (Bulletin). By 1886, Maggie decided to return home to Athens to teach in Athens High School. She became the assistant principal, while her sister Kate Boyd served as the principal. In Athens, Maggie was said to have difficulty disciplining unruly students because of her kind and shy nature (Catanzaro). By 1891, both Kate and Maggie had firmly established themselves in the high school, and each were earning $60 a month, which is approximately $1,400 a month in today’s dollars (Catanzaro/Inflation Calculator).

Towards the end of her life, Maggie, who had been regularly involved and committed to the Methodist Church during her time at Ohio University, continued her charitable work by being active in its missionary work (Catanzaro). Additionally, Maggie was a member of the Athens Reading Club.

Around the turn of the century, Maggie fell ill to a suspected stomach tumor, which made her daily activities extremely difficult. Maggie passed away on October 10, 1905, at the age of 60, following an operation in Cincinnati.

To read Maggie’s Diary and to learn more about her thoughts on beginning her first teaching job, please follow Maggie’s Twitter account @MaggieBoyd1873 chronicling her day-to-day entries from her pocket diary. Also, keep following the Library Blog, the @AldenLibrary Twitter account or the Alden Library Facebook page to read more about the university’s history during Maggie’s time and other aspects of Victorian life.

Works Cited

Boyd, Margaret. “Pocket Diary for 1873.” Digital Initiatives. Ohio University. 1873. Web. 29 Dec 2011.

Catanzaro, Margaret. “A Biography of Margaret Boyd, The First Female Graduate of Ohio University.” Unpublished undergraduate honors paper. Ohio University, 1955. Print.

Friedman, S. M. “The Inflation Calculator.” West Egg. Web. 7 Feb. 2012.

Ohio University Alumni Association. “Margaret Boyd.” Ohio University Bulletin. June 1917: 8-11. Web. 7 Feb. 2012.

Ohio University. “Margaret Boyd Transcript.” Unpublished. Print.