The daily life of girls in the late 19th century was completely different than it is today. As future mothers and housewives, they were expected to apply themselves to ‘learning their trade’. Household tasks such as cleaning, washing, ironing and preparing meals were carried out with discipline and obedience.
Girls who went to school faced many difficulties. The main obstacle came from their family, who ‘needed them at home!’ They often failed to complete Grade 7.
The St. Andrews village school offered a basic education, with students of several levels grouped together in one classroom. Teaching was provided by Miss Julia Davis. The Abbotts chose to engage a governess to educate Alice and Maude at home. “Lots would envy us a governess (…) One of my day-dreams is that of going to school.” She wrote in her diary that she was well prepared in French, history and literature, “and yet knowing nothing whatever of Latin or algebra and geometry and very little of arithmetic.”