Essay on Dorothea Dix: A Woman with a Passion for Social Reform

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Greene 1

"There are few cases in history where a social movement of such proportions can be attributed to the work of a single individual" (Kovach) At the age of thirty-nine, a woman by the name of Dorothea Dix devoted the rest of her life as an advocate to the humane attitude toward the mentally ill. She traveled the world from state to state visiting each and every prison, almhouse, asylum, orphanage, and hidden hovel documenting everything and anything she saw. After her intricate study of what she had been a witness of she wrote a letter or "memorial" and presented it to a legislator she knew who would present it to each legislature in each state she had studied. Dorothea Dix was the pioneering force in the movement to reform the
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Greene 2

Dorothea knew she was a social outcast in society, so as a way to stay out of the social circles she opened a school for small children where she would teach. (Gollaher 15-19)

Her passion for teaching became an actuality when she met her second cousin, Edward Bang, at a family party. Bang was fourteen years older than Dorothea, but it was love at first sight. He told Dorothea that if she wanted to being teaching, she should start a "little dame school", where young girls were taught in private because they weren't able to attend public schools. Bang found her a location where she could begin to teach, and therefore he was able to continually visit and accompany her. From that day on, Dorothea was forever grateful to Edward for making her dream an actual reality. (<a href=""></a>)

The day had finally come when Edward confessed his love for Dorothea, except Dorothea was only eighteen and he was thirty-one. Frightened and nervous she returned back home to Boston and closed down her school. Dorothea's moving back to Boston didn't stop Bang from following her home, where he would soon propose to her. (Gollaher 27-30) Thinking back on her terrible childhood she agreed to marriage but never set an actual date. Her reasons behind not specifying a date of marriage was the fear she would end up like her parents. Marriage to Dorothea

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