Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The principal question investigated in the thesis is: were changes in school attendance behaviour primarily the result of socially differentiated family strategies. The behaviour analyzed is the decision of London parents to send or not to send their children to school between 1826 and l871.;Parents in this study were divided into three cultural groups: Protestants, Roman Catholics and Blacks. They were also classified into occupational groups which were employed as surrogate measures for social class: upper, middle, and lower. Enrollments and attendance rates provided the proxy measure of the behavioural decision. The time frame was differentiated into four periods of study: 1826 to 1842; 1843 to 1852; 1853 to 1861; and 1867 to 1871.;A family strategies approach is employed in this research because of its significant explanatory potential, and its capacity to incorporate many of the approaches used by other historians. From this perspective, the primary concern of most parents in the last century was for the security and survival of their families. Thus, before the passage of compulsory school laws, their response to public schooling is viewed as calculative; that is, most parents measured schooling in terms of gains and losses for the family unit. Moreover, these decisions were not made in isolation. They were strongly influenced by the cultural and class background of the parent; and they were reached in the midst of social, economic, political, and environmental changes.;Based on the literature concerning nineteenth-century school attendance, a number of hypotheses were generated and tested in each of the periods outlined above. In general, it was found that Protestant and upper and middle class males dominated schooling arrangements until Roman Catholic separate schools were established in 1858; that Protestants and Roman Catholics formed schools to transmit key cultural tenets to their children; that Protestant and upper and middle class children generally demonstrated higher attendance rates than Roman Catholic or Black and working class children; that lower class parents limited their children's education to the 3R's; and that family schooling strategies were directly linked to the future occupational destinations of children.;Archival files, annual reports, board and city council minutes, newspapers, personal papers, censuses, city directories, church records, and school syllabi were used to measure qualitatively and quantitatively the school attendance behaviour of London children in the past century.;In general, the hypotheses advanced by historians of education in Canada were substantiated in this study. Thus, when compared and contrasted to similar studies for other communities, these findings could furnish some additional truth about the relationship between school and society in nineteenth-century Canada.



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