Dorothy Dix was poor. Her father did not know how to make a living. Her mother did not know how to bring up her children. The father moved from place to place. Sometimes he printed little tracts to do good. But he let his own children grow up poor and wretched. Dorothy wanted to learn. She wanted to become a teacher. She wanted to get money to send her little brothers to school.
Dorothy was a girl of strong will and temper. When she was twelve years old, she left her wretched home. She went to her grandmother. Her grandmother Dix lived in a large house in Boston. She sent Dorothy to school. Dorothy learned fast. But she wanted to make money. She wanted to help her brothers. When she was fourteen, she taught a school. She tried to make herself look like a woman. She made her dresses longer.
She soon went back to her grandmother. She went to school again. Then she taught school. She soon had a school in her grandmother’s house. It was a very good school. Many girls were sent to her school.
Miss Dix was often ill. But when she was well enough, she worked away. She was able to send her brothers to school until they grew up. Besides helping her brothers, she wanted to help other poor children. She started a school for poor children in her grandmother’s barn. After a while she left off teaching. She was not well. She had made all the money she needed. But she was not idle. She went one day to teach some poor women in an almshouse. Then she went to see the place where the crazy people were kept. These insane people had no fire in the coldest weather.
Miss Dix tried to get the managers to put up a stove in the room. But they would not do it. Then she went to the court. She told the judge about it. The judge said that the insane people ought to have a fire. He made the managers put up a stove in the place where they were kept. Then Miss Dix went to other towns. She wanted to see how the insane people were treated. Some of them were shut up in dark, damp cells. One young man was chained up with an iron collar about his neck.
Miss Dix got new laws made about the insane. She persuaded the States to build large houses for keeping the insane. She spent most of her life at this work. The Civil War broke out. There were many sick and wounded soldiers to be taken care of. All of the nurses in the hospitals were put under Miss Dix. She worked at this as long as the war lasted. Then she spent the rest of her life doing all that she could for insane people.
SOURCE: Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans By Samuel Eggleston American Book Co 1893 Digitized by Google Available for free download from Google Books
Tomorrow, Louisa May Alcott Rita Bay