Educated Arguments: Schooling and Citizenship in Turn-of-the-Century Tucson, Arizona
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation examines some of the ongoing debates about American citizenship in the context of new school development in the small, desert town of Tucson, Arizona, between 1870 and the late 1920s. Arizona officials were actively in pursuit of statehood during most of this period; bringing citizenship to the forefront of public discussion. New schools were one vital resource in the efforts to "civilize" Arizona to meet national expectations for statehood. It was in the fundraising and organizing of these new schools that Arizonans often voiced their expectations about who could and should be a fully active American citizen. Beginning with the development of the first school, in the 1870s, Tucson private and public schools became spaces for educators, state officials, missionaries, and parents to assert their interpretation of the good American citizen. The term cultural citizenship is used to describe the process of social debate and enactment of various interpretations of American citizenship. Tucson's first school, a Catholic girl's academy, at first united the town and territorial boosters who saw the school as an orderly influence on the roughness of the desert settlement. The later creation of local public or common schools led to polarization between Catholics and Protestants as they debated the connections between citizenship and religion. A series of public and private schools opened to segregate Native American, African American, and Mexican American children from the general school population. Each of these schools promoted an agenda about preparing a population of students for American citizenship--often envisioned as necessitating a complete adoption of Anglo-American behaviors and standards--as well as continued segregation. Students in these schools, however, pushed with their words and actions for a wider vision of a more multicultural American citizenship. Rather than adopting Anglo-American mission teachings in their entirety, Native-American and Mexican-American mission school students mixed and adapted traditional culture, mission teachings, and popular culture in ways that had particular meaning in their own lives. Students who attended Tucson schools recognized the benefits of educational opportunities, but almost always adapted that education to meet the needs of their more expansive visions of American citizenship.
Degree ProgramGraduate College