History of the The Young Women’s Union and Neighborhood Centre

The Young Women’s Union (YWU) was established in 1885 and formally incorporated in 1896 as a community service organization and settlement house in Philadelphia. The YWU was initially led by Frannie Binswanger and thirty other young women from middle class Jewsh families in Philadelphia who desired to provide services for immigrants, including education and recreation. Binswanger, the daughter of a Rabbi, was born in Philadelphia and was an active member at Mikveh Israel, now the oldest continuous synagogue in the United States.

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The Women’s Auxiliary of the German Society of Pennsylvania

While many of the archival collections that have been digitized as part of the In Her Own Right project tell stories of women advocating on behalf of issues such as temperance and women’s suffrage, the records of the Women’s Auxiliary of the German Society of Pennsylvania tell something of a different story, a story of women’s role in a traditional men’s organization. 

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In Her Own Right is seeking “Hidden Voices”!

In Her Own Right has been working hard to bring to light stories of women fighting for their rights and the rights of others, but we know can do better–and we need your help! Our collections as they currently stand focus primarily on the perspectives of women who are white and middle or upper class. In order to work towards a more complete record of activist women from 1820-1920, In Her Own Right is searching for “hidden voices”. This NEH-funded portion of our project involves seeking out additional Philadelphia-area collections from beyond the PACSCL sphere that document underrepresented or marginalized populations. In some cases, such records are embedded among the personal papers of men, or the papers of organizations whose connections to these women are not readily apparent. Continue reading “In Her Own Right is seeking “Hidden Voices”!”

Different Type of Activism: Chloe Cudsworth Littlefield, Private Duty Nurse

The following post was originally published in The Chronicle in Fall 2003. The Bates Center’s collections highlight the boundaries women as nurses crossed as well as the empowerment they created for themselves and for the profession. The basic idea of hiring nurses raised profound anxiety about class systems and private versus public spaces. Philadelphia’s nursing pioneers changed the idea of hiring nurses for quality care both at home and in hospitals. The history of nursing, and of healthcare, demonstrates the intersections of race, economics, and society, particularly in the decades leading to the ratification of the 19th Amendment. 

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Lost in the Archives: Pondering the Lives of White Seamstresses

My work with PACSCL’s grant funded digitization project, In Her Own Right, over the last year has been very rewarding. I worked on several aspects of the project, from scanning materials to transcriptions. The transcriptions of letters of recommendation for the seamstresses who worked at the Schuylkill Arsenal during the Civil War influenced me the most. While working on these transcriptions, I began to think about these women: who were they, how were they able to provide for their families during this time of war, and were black women among the seamstresses?  

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The Correspondence of M. Carey Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Garrett

Bryn Mawr College digitized a portion of the M. Carey Thomas Papers for In Her Own Right, including letters to and from her companion Mary Elizabeth Garrett. They were progressive women who did important work, but they also held and expressed some problematic views.

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