In spite of its importance for understanding teachers and teaching in the past, the issue of the social class origins of US teachers from 1860 to 1920 has largely been neglected. Using the IPUMS-USA, this paper attempts to answer whether teaching was an engine of upward mobility into the middle class for relatively well-educated daughters of skilled workers and of low manual workers. The results suggest that the teaching profession was mainly occupied by individuals from the middle class and farms, and it is they, not individuals from the lower class, who improved their socioeconomic standing. In addition, more systematic analyses show that most of the opportunities for upward mobility were presented to teachers whose fathers were immigrants, who resided in small places in the Northeast in early years, and who grew up on farms.


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pp. 908-935
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