Sarah Frances Gulick Jewett (1854-1937)
Sarah Frances Gulick Jewett, wife of Frank Fanning Jewett, was an active member of the Oberlin College community and a participant in the public health movement that galvanized women reformers at the end of the nineteenth century. Opening her home frequently to college gatherings, taking in male roomers, and participating in various community organizations, she also authored several books on hygiene. In recognition of her contributions to reform, shereceived an honorary A.M. degree from Oberlin College in 1916.
Born in 1854 to missionary parents in Micronesia, Frances (called Fannie by her family) spent most of her youth in Hawaii. She later attended Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. Frances moved to Tokyo, where her father coordinated Bible distribution for the American Bible Society; there, while teaching high school, she met Frank FanningJewett. They married on July 30, 1880 in Yokohama, Japan, and returned to the United States, where Frank assumed a teaching position at Oberlin College.
Frances gave birth to her only child, Charles, on July 18, 1894, but he lived only one day. He was buried in the family plot at Oberlin's Westwood Cemetery. Although they had no children of their own, the Jewetts opened their house to male students who studied in rooms on the second floor and slept in the attic. Faculty and students were frequent visitors to the Jewett house, and once the Jewetts even entertained the entire College sophomore class.
Perhaps Frances's most important interest was her work as a reformer for public health. The Industrial Revolution had greatly urbanized America, creating crowded, noisy, and chaotic cities that were wracked with dirt, disease, and disorder. Frances, along with many other middle-class women of her generation, was a part of the turn-of-the century Progressive Era reform movement that sought to eradicate dirt and filth in all its forms. In small towns across the nation, middle-class women and men created "City Beautiful" village improvement societies that worked to develop "municipal housekeeping," with regular street sweeping and garbage collection, better sewage systems, and clean plumbing. Frances'books on public health and hygiene collectively sold over 6 million copies. Titles include:
Good Health (1906),
Town and City (1906),
Control of Body and Mind (1908),
The Body at Work (1908),
The Body and Its Defenses (1909),
The Next Generation: A Study in the Physiology of Inheritance (1914),
Physiology, Hygiene, and Sanitation (1916).
Frances died on August 31, 1937 in Hawaii; her ashes were brought back to Oberlin to be buried with her husband.