Jane H. Hunter has taught for the past twenty years at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she has also served as associate dean and interim dean. A modern social and cultural historian of the United States, she has taught courses in the history of race and ethnicity, consumerism and the culture of personality, women’s history, and the American war in Vietnam. Her first book, Gospel of Gentility: American Women Missionaries in Turn-of-the-Century China (1984), won the Yale University Press Governors’ Award, and her second, How Young Ladies Became Girls: The Victorian Origins of American Girlhood (2002) won the History of Education Society's Outstanding Book Prize. A former Radcliffe research scholar and an Eccles fellow at the University of Utah Humanities Center, she has also received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. During 2012-2013, she was a Fulbright distinguished chair, teaching in the world history department of Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, and speaking widely at other universities throughout China. She is currently working on a book project tentatively entitled, "Peace Corps/Philippines: Gender and Public Relations on the New Frontier."
During much of the 19th century, the polite term for female students over the age of puberty was “young ladies.” When writers for school newspapers first referred to female classmates as “girls,” they did so with apologies for their rudeness. Yet the use of the term girl suggested an evolution in culture in the coeducational high school. Documented in rich diary and paper collections, girls competed with boys in a meritocratic classroom, and sometimes won. In more than holding their own, girls made a case for their sex—and for the New Women who they would become.