The Political Philanthropy of the Female Elites

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This Chapter, written by the editors of the book Elena Laurenzi and Manuela Mosca, proposes some methodological and historiographical considerations, pointing out the scarcity of historical studies on activist women belonging to the elite who used their wealth and power to transform reality. It introduces the reader to three paradigmatic figures of American women based in Italy, who exhibit the liberal, inter-faith and international profile of an early twentieth-century political elite. It also exemplifies their practical feminism, which went beyond the mere demand for rights, to undertake significant experimental and entrepreneurial initiatives. The political philanthropic networks they created renewed the conception of charity: by re-interpreting practical feminism as a vast movement of political and social action, they sought to redefine the concept of citizenship and to construct an early form of welfare state. The chapter shows the great heuristic power of the network approach, and how it can overcome the dichotomy between biographical and sociological or institutional approaches. It also recommends the use of informal and private sources in analysing the problems of considering the female transmission of ideas, values and experiences between generations. Thanks to this approach, it demonstrates the endurance of and changes in a wide-ranging political-entrepreneurial project which has continued to the present day.

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The Congress of Women at the Hague in 1915 developed a roadmap for enduring peace. The women passed 20 resolutions including five resolutions which were “Principles of a Permanent Peace.” Theirs was a gendered response to a gendered war. The Congress was a bold and brave initiative. The war was not halted. But neither were the women in their quest for peace. This is their story.
Joan Marie Johnson examines an understudied dimension of women’s history in the United States: how a group of affluent white women from the late-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries advanced the status of all women through acts of philanthropy. This cadre of activists included Phoebe Hearst, the mother of William Randolph Hearst; Grace Dodge, granddaughter of Wall Street “Merchant Prince” William Earle Dodge; and Ava Belmont, who married into the Vanderbilt family fortune. Motivated by their own experiences with sexism, and focusing on women’s need for economic independence, these benefactors sought to expand women’s access to higher education, promote suffrage, and champion birth control and reproductive rights as well as to provide assistance to working-class women. In a time when women still wielded limited political power, philanthropy was perhaps the most potent tool they had. But even as these wealthy women exercised considerable influence, their activism had significant limits. As Johnson argues, restrictions tied to their giving engendered resentment and jeopardized efforts to establish coalitions across racial and class lines. As the struggle for full economic and political power and self-determination for women continues today, this history reveals how generous women helped shape the movement. And Johnson shows us that tensions over wealth and power that persist in the modern movement have deep historical roots.
Ce texte interroge les rapports entre histoire et memoire. En effet, les chercheuses feministes ont, ces dernieres annees, retraverse le savoir historique constitue pour faire emerger a la fois l'histoire des femmes et le role actif des femmes dans l'histoire generale. Ce travail indispensable risque toutefois de rester prisonnier de l'ideologie dominante qui consiste a ne retenir que ce qui fait marque, c'est-a-dire ce qui, dans l'etre humain, est facteur de changement. La memoire explicite ou implicite est en ce sens plus large que l'histoire : elle recueille et honore les traces du passe sans distinguer entre faire et defaite, entre activite et receptivite, entre lumiere et ombre. L'ecriture litteraire est depositaire de cette memoire : peut-etre la vraie « herstory ».
Parmi les nombreuses définitions de la classe sociale, plusieurs ont été cherchées dans le mariage et la classe du conjoint. Nous trouvons en effet dans cet acte une manifestation sociale de première importance. Mais, comme pour la mobilité sociale, proprement dite, les données sont rares, même pour l'époque actuelle, à plus forte raison pour le passé. Les renseignements fournis par les romanciers de mœurs nous séduisent, sans pouvoir nous suffire. L'Histoire s'achemine cependant lentement vers l'étude des rapports sociaux. Mlle Adeline Daumard, agrégée d'histoire, attachée au Centre national de la recherche scientifique, qui achève une thèse sur "La Bourgeoisie parisienne sous la Monarchie constitutionnelle" (1815-1848) a eu l'idée et la patience de dépouiller l'état civil d'une paroisse de Paris, de la Restauration à la Révolution de 1848. C'est le résultat de ces intéressantes et premières recherches qu'elle présente ici.
The situation of unmarried women has often been portrayed as a miserable experience, surviving on a limited income, and dependent on the oft-failing good will of their families. However, for the daughters of the aristocracy, the situation could be empowering, as their access to an independent income enabled them to live enjoyable and rounded lives within the elite family. This article explores the experiences of wealthy single women and argues that their choice not to marry, whether positively taken or not, did not debar them from the powerful and enjoyable roles of elite women, including those of the chatelaine, 'motherer' and wife, and that they were accepted and acknowledged as important members of the country house family.
This article integrates an exploration of intellectual history as a specialty within broader historical scholarship, its long-term omission of women and gender issues, and an analysis of the writings of early modern women, in order to suggest how the latter provide insights into current shortcomings within intellectual history. It points to the nature of intellectual history and the blinders it places on the intellectual contributions of women: a focus on paradigms that posit universal qualities that ignore gender bias, a reliance on institutions that have traditionally excluded women, and a neglect of gender as a fundamental ideological category underpinning many of the societal judgments of past thinkers. The article argues that Margaret Cavendish and Mary Astell, in particular, amongst early modern women writers saw such limitations most clearly, and more so than many contemporary feminist theorists. Early modern writers can, therefore, offer useful insights as to how intellectual historians can more effectively open up their specialty to women's knowledge and gender analysis.
The Third Republic, known as the 'belle époque', was a period of lively, articulate and surprisingly radical feminist activity in France, borne out of the contradiction between the Republican ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity and the reality of intense and systematic gender discrimination. Yet, it also was a period of intense and varied artistic production, with women disproving the critical nearconsensus that art was a masculine activity by writing, painting, performing, sculpting, and even displaying an interest in the new "seventh art" of cinema. This book explores all these facets of the period, weaving them into a complex, multi-stranded argument about the importance of this rich period of French women's history.
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