Endless Crusade: Women Social Scientists and Progressive Reform / Edition 1

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This book examines the lives and careers of four American women—Sophonisba Breckinridge, Edith Abbott, Katharine Bement Davis, and Frances Kellor—who played decisive roles in early twentieth-century reform crusades. Breckinridge and Abbott used their educations in political science and political economy to expose the tragic conditions endured by the urban poor. Davis became the first superintendent of the New York State Reformatory at Bedford Hills and was a leading figure in prison reform. Kellor's sociological training gained her admittance to the smoke-filled rooms of national party politics and eventually to a high-ranking position in the Progressive Party. In Endless Crusade, Fitzpatrick follows these four women from their collective experience as University of Chicago graduate students at the turn of the century to their extraordinary careers as early-twentieth-century social activists, exploring the impact of their academic training and their experiences as professional women on issues ranging from prison reform to Progressive Party politics. Fitzpatrick examines how each woman struggled, in various settings, to promote effective social reform. Their shared commitment to social knowledge and social change, she shows, helped to shape the character of early-twentieth-century reform.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A gift to historians, to social scientists, and to anyone hungering for women's biography in wonderful prose."—Signs

"First rate—Endless Crusade joins a small but significant group of titles in the history of American feminism....It reveals the feminist origins of the twentieth-century welfare state. It is a most welcome contribution."—Donald K. Pickens, University of North Texas

"An excellent study of the impact of the new social science and graduate training on social investigation and reform politics in the early twentieth century....Delightful to read and carries a strong thesis."—Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"This engaging collective biography...contributes to the current re-evaluation of Progressive reform and the impact of academic social science on it. Fitzpatrick skillfully interweaves unique life histories to chart the transmission of social thought from developing academic fields to a wide range of institutions."—History of Education Quarterly

"Well-written and interesting."—Contemporary Sociology

"A highly informative and original analysis...A significant contribution to the emerging scholarship on women's intellectual and social history. Highly recommended for college and university libraries."—Choice

"This model collective biography greatly illuminates our understanding of how women social scientists reshaped social policy between 1890-1930."—Kathryn Kish Sklar, SUNY Binghamton

"Endless Crusade is a graceful and sensitive portrait of four important women, all of them pioneers in the emergence of the social sciences, all of them prominent reformers. In exploring their lives, Ellen Fitzpatrick illuminates the emergence of intimate connections between the academy and the state in the early twentieth century. She reveals, too, the existence in these years of a distinctly female approach to scholarly research and public action that had profound effects on both."—Alan Brinkley, Graduate Center, City University of New York

"Fitzpatrick's vivid biographies reveal individuals of remarkable purpose and enterprise....Fitzpatrick brings their lives and contributions into respectful and realistic view, as inspiring foremothers and as cautionary figures."—Women's Review of Books

"Engrossing and moving....An important contribution to social history."—Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195088489
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.19 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Fitzpatrick
Ellen Fitzpatrick

Ellen Fitzpatrick is Associate Professor of History, Harvard University, and the author of Endless Crusade: Women Social Scientists and Progressive Reform.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi
1 Pathways to Chicago 3
2 White City, Gray City 28
3 Scientists of Society 39
4 "The Thing for Which You Are Well Fitted" 71
5 "A Most Scientific Institution" 92
6 "If Sex Could Be Eliminated" 130
7 "The School Is Yours" 166
Epilogue 201
Notes 218
Index 259
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2003

    A worthy addition to Progressive Era Scholarship

    Endless Crusade is a study of four women who influenced social policy of the Progressive Era and beyond. Edith Abbott, Sophonisba Breckenridge, Katherine Bemont Davis, and Francis Kellor earned degrees from The University of Chicago graduate school, and applied their social science training to address social ills during the Progressive Era. The University of Chicago, established in 1892, offered opportunities for women on a scale few academic institutions had before. Further, many women at the end of the 19th century were challenging the Victorian ¿cult of domesticity.¿ The combination of these elements and the growth and professionalization of social science, as well as the opportunities for advocates of social reform during the Progressive Era, serve as the focus of Fitzpatrick¿s study. <p>Endless Crusade begins with a scene central to the Progressive Era, Theodore Roosevelt addressing the Progressive Party Convention in 1912. All four women in Fitzpatrick¿s study supported Roosevelt¿s candidacy, which reflected their advocacy for government involvement in social policy. This scene leads into a discussion of progressive reform, and how these women addressed social problems through scientific investigation. Fitzpatrick chose to focus on women, believing that their contributions to social reform of the early 20th century have been under explored. <p> After stating her thesis, Fitzpatrick uses the next chapter to discuss how each of these women arrived at the University of Chicago¿s graduate school, in chronological order. First to arrive was Sophonisba Breckenridge, from Kentucky. Breckenridge came from the most socially distinguished background of the four, she was the great granddaughter of John Breckenridge, Thomas Jefferson¿s attorney general. Fitzpatrick shows how an unorthodox family attitude towards the education of women provided Sophonisba encouragement (and an expectation) to pursue her intellectual aspirations. Fitzpatrick goes on to discuss Breckenridge¿s experience at the University of Chicago, and her growing progressive beliefs. <p> In similar fashion, Endless Crusade introduces the reader to the other three women and how they arrived at the University of Chicago. Katherine Davis arrived in 1897 to study political economy. Though less noted than the Breckenridges, the Davis family was ¿old and respected,¿ and included Ethan Allen in its ancestry. Influenced by her grandmother, an advocate for women¿s rights, Davis desired more than a typical Victorian woman¿s life. Davis was unable to attend college until she was thirty, as her family could not afford to send her. Following graduation at Vassar, she served as a teacher, took graduate courses at Colombia, and lived in College Settlement in Philadelphia. She entered the graduate school at University of Chicago in 1897. <p> Francis Kellor¿s background was much different than that of Davis or Breckenridge. Her father abandoned the family when she was two, and her mother labored as a laundress and domestic servant. She was taken in after an accident by the wealthy Eddy sisters, who encouraged her intellectual growth. She studied at Cornell University, where she challenged discrimination against women, and graduated in 1897. She began graduate study at Chicago in 1898, in sociology. Edith Abbott was the last to arrive at Chicago, in 1902. Abbott came from a notable Nebraska family that embraced women¿s rights. Though the family was hit with financial hardship, Abbot eventually earned a degree at University of Nebraska, and began graduate study in political economy at the University of Chicago. In showing the paths that lead these four women to Chicago, Fitzpatrick makes it clear this was not an opportunity open to all women. These four had certain advantages, either through family background, or in the case of Kellor, middle class patronage, that afforded them opportunities unavailable to the majority of American women.

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