Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level





Benjamin J. Grob-Fitzgibbon

Committee Member

Richard D. Sonn

Second Committee Member

Andrea L. Arrington


Social sciences, Education, British Isles, British empire, Early-twentieth century, Nineteenth century, Primary education


A Gentleman's Burden is a comparative analysis of state-funded primary education in Britain, Ireland, West Africa, and India during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Starting with early-nineteenth century theories on primary education, this dissertation traces the evolution of state-funded educational ideology alongside Britain's domestic and imperial development. Key innovations in educational ideology are considered alongside the core moments of educational change during this period, specifically the major policies and reforms that shaped British state-funded education at home and abroad. Through this lens, education is shown to be a central component in how British officials and educationists perceived, categorized, and ruled the disparate populations and cultures of Britain and its empire. These themes and arguments stress the interconnectivity of British domestic and imperial narratives during the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, as well as the impact of state-funded education on the formation of both British national identity and anti-imperial identities in the British Empire.