Women's Activism and Social Change

Women's Activism and Social Change : Rochester, New York 1822-1872

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Women's Activism and Social Change challenges the popular belief that the lives of antebellum women focused on their role in the private sphere of the family. Examining intense and well-documented reform movements in nineteenth-century Rochester, New York, Nancy Hewitt distinguishes three networks of women's activism: women from the wealthiest Rochester families who sought to ameliorate the lives of the poor; those from upwardly mobile families who, influenced by evangelical revivalism, campaigned to eradicate such social ills as slavery, vice, and intemperance; and those who combined limited economic resources with an agrarian Quaker tradition of communalism and religious democracy to advocate full racial and sexual equality.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 292 pages
  • 154.9 x 226.1 x 22.9mm | 453.6g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • bibliography, index
  • 0739102974
  • 9780739102978

Review quote

Hewitt substantially advances discussion of 'women's place' and its relation to class, community, family, and feminism. Women's Activism and Social Change merits a careful reading by scholars of women's history and nineteenth-century social movements. Journal Of Interdisciplinary History Her work is a model for future community studies and a welcome addition to women's history American Historical Review Hewitt's examination of women's organized activities in Rochester raises critical questions about the tendency of historians to trace a direct causal line from the earliest female benevolent activities and missionary societies through evangelical reform movements to the birth of a feminist movement in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York... Hewitt demonstrates clearly that women of different class origins acted in ways consonant with the values of their social location, an excellent antidote to romanticized generalizations about 'women' as a group. Contemporary Sociology Nancy A. Hewitt's well-focused study illuminates the public roles of nineteenth century Rochester women in the cause of social change. American History Review In an important study, Nancy A. Hewitt confronts early Rochester's web of women's secular voluntary associations, both philanthropic and reformist, and orders them persuasively. She not only illuminates the extensiveness, permanence, and position of women's public labors but also asserts their reflection of, rather than challenge to, the class interests of members' spouses and families. Journal of American History The most detailed and scholarly study we have to date of women's reform activity at a local level. It is thoroughly researched, carefully organized, and well written... [and] provides a solid, insightful, and indispensable benchmark against which to measure future scholarship. Public Historian Hewitt argues that women's organizations reflected a broad range of social, racial, and economic concerns that challenged the idea that women had no public role. Divisions among women, Hewitt adds, were sharper than the separation of spheres between men and women; the greatest contested terrain between women existed over the definition of women's proper role in public activism. -- Majorie Murphy Journal Of Urban History In this provocative work, Hewitt dispels the myth that all women active in voluntarist societies were united by the bonds of womanhood in a happy sisterhood, from which emerged the women's rights movement. Where earlier histories of female organizations in the nineteenth century emphasized the direct path from evangelical womanhood through sex-segregated societies to feminism, Hewitt instead suggests that women's activism needs to be seen not as a single unified movement, but rather as three distinct impulses with different manifestations, results, and receptions. Journal Of Interdisciplinary Historyshow more

About Nancy A. Hewitt

Nancy A. Hewitt is Professor of History and Women's Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Material and Moral Progress Chapter 2 A Profusion of Pathways Chapter 3 From Amelioration to Perfection Chapter 4 Moral Crusades and Ultraist Alternatives Chapter 5 Coalitions and Confrontations Chapter 6 Union or Liberty Chapter 7 Never Another Season of Silenceshow more

Rating details

6 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 17% (1)
4 33% (2)
3 50% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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