Feminine Discourse and the "Frequently Neglected Area" of Mental Hygiene in 1950s Ontario Elementary Health Textbooks

Marie K Ainsworth, Université D'Ottawa / University Of Ottawa, Université D'Ottawa / University Of Ottawa
This thesis examines how mental hygiene principles were adopted for a student audience through the elementary-level health textbooks series, Health and Personal Development, used in Ontario schools from 1952 until 1963. In particular, I explore the didactic messages pertaining to mental hygiene as they related to girls. The results of this analysis demonstrate that healthy mental hygiene and personal development for girls, according to the textbooks, meant becoming wives, mothers, and
more » ... , as their own mothers model. While these roles required many skills and responsibilities, and provided women with a certain amount of agency in the female-dominated sphere, girls were represented in the textbooks as having a limited set of options in life: to emulate their mothers' feminine domesticity, or to risk a life marred by poor mental hygiene.
doi:10.20381/ruor-6207 fatcat:zdasj7qg6zf45e2md27dg4ckwi