Study day on the role of governesses and tutors in 19th- and 20th-century Italian aristocratic families

Fondazione Ranieri logo Grigio OKThe Fondazione Ranieri di Sorbello of Perugia is organizing a study day on the role of governesses and tutors in 19th- and 20th-century Italian aristocratic families, which will be held at the Fondazione Ranieri (Piazza Piccinino 9, Perugia) in May 2019.

In addition to a number of scholars who have already been designated, the Foundation opens the debate to contributions by other scholars interested in the subject who wish to propose a general analysis of the topic or case studies to be examined.

The Fondazione Ranieri di Sorbello will fund those participating with the reimbursement of expenses for travel and accommodation in Perugia.

The proposals must be sent by email to by June 30, 2018.

The idea for ​​the study day was inspired by research currently in progress, promoted by the Fondazione Ranieri di Sorbello, on the correspondence between the Marchioness Romeyne Robert and Gertrude Weatherhead, the English governess for the family’s children in the early 20th century. In this correspondence the governess reports on the children’s daily life, including schooling and recreational activities and, indirectly, she gives news on Romeyne’s business activities, on Perugian society and on the childcare practices of the time. It is this last topic that we would like to investigate, projecting the case study of the Sorbello family into the Italian, where from the mid-19th century onward the phenomenon of foreign governesses being hired by noble and upper middle class families took shape, which later led to the establishing of the social and professional profile of the nanny. This latter figure encompassed not only the providing of care and assistance in the raising of children, but also that of aiding their cultural education, combining the children’s educational activities carried out with private tutors with modern, advanced pedagogical practices.

Complementary to this last aspect, the study also intends to propose a reflection on the role of governesses, who are given the responsibility for the educational care of the family’s children, and on their cultural education and how they are represented in literature (e.g. Jane Eyre by Brontë).