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Barrett, Janie Porter (1865 – 1948)

Janie Porter Barrett (1865 -1948): Founder of the Locust Street Social Settlement (1890) and the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls (1915)Continue Reading »

Pinchback, Pinckney Benton Stewart: (1837-1921)

Before ascending to the office of governor, Pinchback had run for both a U.S Senate seat and a seat in the U.S. Congress simultaneously in 1872. He won both contests but was barred from taking his congressional post when his opponent contested the election and was awarded the position. Pinchback was denied his seat in the senate as well as a result of charges of election fraud.Continue Reading »

The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War

By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers. Black women, who could not formally join the Army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts, the most famous being Harriet Tubman, who scouted for the 2d South Carolina Volunteers.Continue Reading »

Temperance Movement

Written by Alice W. Campbell, Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries. “During the first half of the 19th century, as drunkenness and its social consequences increased, temperance societies formed in Great Britain and the United States. These societies were typically religious groups that sponsored lectures and marches, sang songs, and published tracts that warned about the destructive consequences of alcohol.”Continue Reading »

Women In Nineteenth-Century America

As household production by women declined and the traditional economic role of women diminished, the “home” appeared as a topic to be discussed and an ideal to be lauded. Less a place of production than a spiritually sanctified retreat from the hurly-burly of economic life, the home was where women nurtured men and children into becoming morally elevated beings. It could be said that what we think of as the traditional “home” was actually an invention of nineteenth-century Americans.Continue Reading »

Women and Nineteenth-Century Reform

The work of Dorothea Dix to improve the treatment of persons with mental illness illustrates the gendered nature of nineteenth-century reform activity. Like many women of her generation, Dix began her career as a teacher, a profession that many women and men believed ideally suited to women as it both mirrored and prepared them for their roles within the home. Dix’ tireless activism within the Unitarian church and sense of moral religious duty was also common for women of her day. Eventually Dix felt that school teaching was insufficiently rewarding and in 1831 left the United States for a tour of England and Scotland. There, she became acquainted with a number of leading reformers who worked to improve the conditions for the poor and the mentally ill. On her return to the United States, Dix accepted a position to teach Sunday School to women prisoners at the East Cambridge jail. Thus, her life’s purpose grew out of a very common role for women at this time, that of educator and moral guide.Continue Reading »

Emancipation Proclamation: January 1st, 1863

Although January 1st, 1863, is the date most Americans identify as the day the Emancipation Proclamation officially took effect, the ideals of the Proclamation had been carefully contemplated by President Lincoln many months before.Continue Reading »

Y.W.C.A.: Brief History of Service in Times of War

In one particular the Y.W.C.A. war service of 1917 differs from that of 1942. Then the Y.W.C.A. operated hostess houses on camp grounds as well as in large manufacturing areas. Today it operates U.S.O. centers close by camps, near navy yards, and in the big industrial defense areas. Now as then, while doing its share for the men in uniform, it never forgets that its main purpose is to supply the needs of women and girls—wives and families of service men, workers in cantonment areas and in war industries, nurses and employees at military posts, and others directly affected by the emergency needs of the nation. The program included recreation; education in health, nutrition, first aid, and other essential subjects, counsel on personal problems, and spiritual guidance.Continue Reading »

Indian Policy In Its Relations To Crime And Pauperism (1892)

Failure to recognize rights which belong to the Indians, and white rapacity and villany, are largely responsible both for pauperism and crime among the Indians. Here in Colorado, with the eloquent grave of the author of “Ramona,” so near to the place where we meet, it can hardly be necessary to revive the incidents recited in her remarkable book entitled “The Century of Dishonor,” some of them incidents of which this very State has been a witness. Nor should it be needful to condemn in a more enlightened day the barbarisms of which white men have been found capable in the past. And yet what will not avarice do in the way of stifling the sentiments of Christian humanity? The depravity of the human heart is unfathomable….Many, perhaps most, of the barbarities and wars and massacres lie at the doors of white reprobates, whose responsibility is heightened by the Christian lessons of their childhood. The most barbarous of the Indians have not been more savagely cruel than some men of our own race.Continue Reading »

Organization, Powers, And Duties of State Boards of Charity (1892)

Written by William P. Letchworth, Chairman Of The Committee On State Boards Of Charities. “It should be borne in mind that few things in this world are perfect; and, even in a charitable institution, we must look for the maximum of excellence instead of perfection…”Continue Reading »

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