Unsentimental Reformer: The Life of Josephine Shaw Lowell

Unsentimental Reformer: The Life of Josephine Shaw Lowell

by Joan Waugh
     
 

Such was the massive and pitiless industrialization of the nation after the Civil War that Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843-1905) recoiled and sought a new way to approach poverty. She rationalized charity toward hapless families and children in ways that established social responsibility for the welfare of the poor. A Brahmin, member of an illustrious family, sister of…  See more details below

Overview

Such was the massive and pitiless industrialization of the nation after the Civil War that Josephine Shaw Lowell (1843-1905) recoiled and sought a new way to approach poverty. She rationalized charity toward hapless families and children in ways that established social responsibility for the welfare of the poor. A Brahmin, member of an illustrious family, sister of the martyred Robert Gould Shaw, who led his proud black troops against Fort Wagner, and, later, a war widow, Lowell constantly responded to changing ideological and economic conditions affecting the poor. This book challenges all previous interpretations of Lowell as a "genteel" reformer mostly interested in social control of the underclass. Rather, her aim was to cure pauperism, and her strategies eventually led her to support higher wages and full employment.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
Waugh is excellent at placing Lowell in her time, class, and place, with her desire to be 'scientific' and to distinguish the deserving from the undeserving needy. The author points out that Lowell faced and learned how to use the constraints of her gender, and how to adapt to and use the political system when necessary. Lowell's achievement of these skills demonstrates how women without the vote could influence political matters through connections and mobilizing public support. Waugh has made very good use of the relevant primary and secondary materials.
— V. P. Caruso
American Historical Review
Joan Waugh's book is the first full, nuanced account of the life of Josephine Shaw Lowell, founder of the Charity Organization Party (1882)...Waugh's fine biography rightly highlights the career of an important figure in turn-of-the-century charity movements and reform.
— Alison M. Parker
From the Publisher
This study of one of the pivotal figures in late nineteenth century American social reform gives us a full and compelling account of how Lowell constructed new strategies to provide for the needs of the poor...In a variety of ways this fine book makes important contributions to our understanding of American social welfare history.

Here is a heroic figure whose life commitments to serving the poor have all too much resonance for our own society...An important contribution to the history of reform, to American women's history, and to American biography. It fills an important gap in the literature on late nineteenth century reform.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674930360
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/28/1998
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Ellen Fitzpatrick
Here is a heroic figure whose life commitments to serving the poor have all too much resonance for our own society...An important contribution to the history of reform, to American women's history, and to American biography. It fills an important gap in the literature on late nineteenth century reform.
Ellen Fitzpatrick, University of New Hampshire
Kathryn Kish Sklar
This study of one of the pivotal figures in late nineteenth century American social reform gives us a full and compelling account of how Lowell constructed new strategies to provide for the needs of the poor...In a variety of ways this fine book makes important contributions to our understanding of American social welfare history.
Kathryn Kish Sklar, Binghamton University

Meet the Author

Joan Waugh is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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