Society Sisters: Stories of Women Who Fought for Social Justice in America

Overview

The first generation of American women who graduated from colleges in the mid-nineteenth century wondered what it was they were supposed to do with their education. A large percentage of them turned to social reform. These women rolled up their sleeves. They started kindergartens and playground programs. They investigated filthy living conditions in tenements, then wrote legislation to authorize a cleanup of the slums. Some formed settlements, or small communities, to teach poor families how to care for their ...
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Overview

The first generation of American women who graduated from colleges in the mid-nineteenth century wondered what it was they were supposed to do with their education. A large percentage of them turned to social reform. These women rolled up their sleeves. They started kindergartens and playground programs. They investigated filthy living conditions in tenements, then wrote legislation to authorize a cleanup of the slums. Some formed settlements, or small communities, to teach poor families how to care for their infants. Others formed political parties to end war and to win equal rights for women, including the right to vote. This is the story of those women who dared to make a difference, and in daring changed society and the conscience of America forever.

Profiles nineteenth-century women who overcame the disadvantage of being female in order to change the society in which they lived, by promoting temperance, child labor laws, health care, and other causes.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
At first glance, this seems a somber book with its black-and-white illustrations and its dull blue endpapers. The text looks a little forbidding, too, although it's broken visually by rectangular photos, vignettes, and blue boxes containing quotations, but for a young researcher who plunges in, this story of feminine activism in America since the Civil War is sure to become fascinating. Starting with a survey of appalling social conditions at mid-nineteenth century, the author continues by discussing the restlessness of newly college-educated women who were denied the use of their talents in the male-dominated society. From the widespread formation of women's clubs, spirited women moved on to test their wings in many spheres, such as forming settlement houses, crusading for judicial reform, and battling the deadly diseases that plagued the slums. Most passionate were the agitators, first for temperance and then for a woman's right to vote and speak out politically. Young readers of today may not know about the scorn, ridicule, and physical abuse heaped on these dedicated women or realize that women couldn't vote until 1920. Details of the careers of activists like Jane Addams, Alice Hamilton, Ida B. Wells, Carry Nation, and Mary Church Terrell point the way to further research about the brave women who persisted until changes were made in laws and attitudes. Included are source notes, an index, and a bibliography which, unfortunately, contains many books and articles of an age and obscurity that may make them difficult for teen researchers to locate. 2003, Twenty-First Century/Millbrook, Ages 12 up.
— Barbara L. Talcroft
VOYA
In the years between the late 1800s and the early 1900s, an era of social change existed in the United States, and it was a movement largely fueled by women. Some of these women's names, such as Jane Addams and Carry Nation, are familiar. Others-Alice Hamilton, Florence Kelly, and Margaret Fuller-will be new to readers. One positive aspect of this book is that it shows just how influential women were, yet historians often fail to give them credit. Alice Hamilton, a doctor at a time when few women even considered such a profession, uncovered the link between typhoid epidemics and fly-borne infections. Her work led public health officials to force landlords to clean up their tenements, many of them inhabited by poor immigrants. Hamilton also investigated factories where workers were exposed to poisonous chemicals that made them sick and caused disfigurement. Although Gourley, author of Good Girl Work: Factories, Sweatshops, and How Women Changed Their Role in the American Workforce (Millbrook, 1999), has done her research, the problem here lies in the organization. Seven chapters comprise this quite brief book, and each chapter is divided into at least three sections. There is some repetition, and the shorter sections lend a choppy feeling to the reading. The result is an overview of these women, none of whom readers get to know in depth. Their lives are worthy of more details. Nevertheless librarians might want to purchase the book because it could encourage readers to seek out individual biographies to learn more about these important women. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M J (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; MiddleSchool, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Twenty-First Century, 96p.; Index. Illus. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes., PLB. Ages 11 to 15.
—Kim Zach
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761328650
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/5/2003
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 8.28 (w) x 10.14 (h) x 0.31 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Haves and the Have-Nots 7
Chapter 1 The Woman's Sphere 11
"Someone to Protect Her When I'm Gone": Margaret Fuller 13
A Woman's Discontent: Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells 16
A New Ideal of Womanhood: Jane Cunningham Croly 18
Chapter 2 The Ghild Savers 23
Orphan Asylums and Protectories: Jacob Riis 24
A Prodigy of Crime: Hannah Schoff and the New Century Club of Philadelphia 27
The Children's Court: Judge Lindsey, Jane Addams, and the Chicago Women's Club 29
Back to Philadelphia 33
Chapter 3 Attacking the Nest 35
In Hell's Kitchen: Sara Josephine Baker 38
Typhoid and Flies in Chicago: Alice Hamilton 41
Publicity and Persuasion: Alice Hamilton, Florence Kelley, Albion Bacon 43
Chapter 4 The White Ribbon Women 47
The Laws of the Country: Clarina Howard Nichols 48
Rum and Ridicule 49
The First Saloon: Frances Willard 52
Carry's First Joint: Carry A. Nation 53
The Sisters' Next Step 55
Chapter 5 Lifting as We Rise 57
The Murder of Thomas Moss: Ida B. Wells 58
For the Benefit of the Race: Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin 60
A Night in Texarkana: Mary Church Terrell 62
Chapter 6 The Agitators 65
The Suffragists' Parade of 1913: Rebecca Hourwich Reyher 65
Picketing the President: Ernestine Hara Kettler 69
Protest at the Occoquan Workhouse: Alice Paul, Doris Stevens, Lucy Burns 72
Chapter 7 The Pacifists 76
The "Mothers of Men": Mrs. William Lowell Putnam, Alice Hamilton 80
Peace and Propaganda: Jane Addams, Alice Hamilton 81
The Swamp: Alice Hamilton 84
Epilogue: Winter Wheat 85
Crystal Eastman 86
Selected Bibliography 88
Source Notes 91
Index 94
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