This paper offers an insight into the role and agency of foreign governesses--particularly those from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as, to a lesser extent, Britain and France--in the development of Romanian education in nineteenth century. It analyses the significance of their presence in the Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, autonomous provinces of the Ottoman Empire, before these two territories united and gained independence under the name of Romania in 1859. While memoirs and travel accounts provide many references to governesses and their life trajectories, the paper also considers other complementary materials such as private correspondence, trials, and employment files. Employers, pupils, and parents wrote about the changes brought by the presence of these women, revealing the governesses’ impact on their pupils, their families, and on society. The paper argues for a multifaceted perspective on a double axis of mobility for these women: the geographical, tracing their movement from western to southeastern Europe, and the economic: from private to state education.
Dr Nicoleta Roman is a researcher at ‘Nicolae Iorga’ Institute of History and New Europe College-Institute for Advanced Study, both in Bucharest, Romania. She is co-leader of the working group ‘Women, labour and economy’ of the COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) network Women on the Move. Beginning with her thesis on women in nineteenth century Romania (Romanian, 2016, transl: ‘There has never been a more wretched woman like me’: Women, honour, and sin in Nineteenth Century Wallachia), she has explored the history of women, especially in relation to law and economy, education and migration. Nicoleta Roman has published extensively on these topics in international and national peer-review journals and collective volumes, while also promoting the field of childhood studies.
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