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Documenting First Wave Feminisms

Documenting First Wave Feminisms: Volume 1: Transnational Collaborations and Crosscurrents

Maureen Moynagh
Nancy Forestell
  • Book Info
    Documenting First Wave Feminisms
    Book Description:

    Using primary documents dating from the abolitionist movement to the Second World War, Maureen Moynagh and Nancy Forestell investigate the tensions inherent in organizing early transnational feminist movements.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6409-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  4. Permissions
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  5. General Introduction Documenting First Wave Feminisms
    (pp. xxi-2)

    Documenting First Wave Feminismsis a two-volume collection of essays, pamphlets, manifestos, memoirs, petitions, reports, and resolutions documenting the multiple forms of engagement and organizing within first wave feminism. Our project is not primarily about recuperation, an undertaking that cannot be embarked upon blithely given the deep implication of many first wave women in structures of privilege and empire building. Rather, we seek to make more readily available some of the documents of first wave feminism that make especially evident its international linkages and its engagement with categories of social location other than gender that were and continue to be...

  6. Volume Introduction: Transnational Collaborations and Crosscurrents
    (pp. 3-16)

    As contemporary feminists around the world strive to negotiate competing and conflicting affiliations based on imperialism or globalization, nation, race, class, sexuality, and religion, it is useful to take another look at the ways first wave feminists negotiated – or failed to negotiate – similar tensions in their international organizing. Feminism has long been recognized as one of the first international social movements. In the first part of the nineteenth century, women involved with the abolition movement in the United Kingdom and the United States, utopian socialists, and members of dissenting religious groups began to read one another’s work, to correspond, to...

  7. PART ONE Slavery, Abolition, and Woman’s Rights
    (pp. 17-49)

    The links between slavery, abolition, and the early women’s movement present ample evidence of both transnational activity and what we might think of as a transnational imagination among first wave feminists. In the late eighteenth century, the beginnings of the abolition movement in England spread not merely awareness among social reformers of the horrors of the slave trade and of the terrible and unjust conditions under which African slaves in the West Indies lived and worked, but the sense that something should and could be done to bring an end to the system. Thus, Mary Wollstonecraft cites the abolition movement...

  8. PART TWO Imperial Feminisms
    (pp. 50-108)

    So goes the opening stanza of a poem titled ‘India’s Call,’ published in 1882 inIndia’s Women, the journal of the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society. Its melodramatic representation of the plight of Indian women and their need of rescuing by their English (Christian) sisters neatly authorizes the missionary zeal of the Englishwomen. The poem encapsulates, in a rather extreme way, the imperialist sensibility of many British first wave feminists who found an outlet for their own desires for careers and independence through missionary work in India, China, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and elsewhere in the East. As Antoinette Burton...

  9. PART THREE Suffrage
    (pp. 109-159)

    There is perhaps no more iconic struggle associated with first wave feminism than women’s suffrage, yet as Caroline Daley and Melanie Nolan point out, very few nations granted suffrage to women before the 1940s.¹ Kuwaiti women were granted full political rights as recently as 2005 and participated in full legislative elections both as voters and candidates for the first time in 2006; women won seats in the Kuwaiti parliament for the first time in 2009. Suffrage, moreover, was not universally regarded as either necessary or desirable by those engaged in women’s movements around the world. The Chilean feminist Amanda Labarca,...

  10. PART FOUR Nationalism /Internationalism
    (pp. 160-218)

    While feminist internationalism may be traced back to the Quakers and the activities of anti-slavery women in the early nineteenth century, as Millicent Garret Fawcett points out in her essay ‘Women and Internationalism,’¹ it was not until the late nineteenth century that feminists set about creating organizations that were explicitly international. With the founding of the World Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1884, and the International Council of Women (ICW) in 1893, feminists began to develop organizational structures that formalized their transnational collaborations. In addition to the three largest organizations – the ICW, the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance (IWSA), founded in...

  11. PART FIVE Citizenship
    (pp. 219-271)

    In an essay that set out to define the scope of activity undertaken by the International Alliance of Women as it moved beyond its early and foundational focus on suffrage, Margery Corbett Ashby wrote: ‘It is a fact which cannot be ignored that women are not only feminists in a perpetual state of protest against restrictions and disabilities, they are also to an increasing extent, keen citizens, peace workers, reformers and educators. The greatest freedom won by women is surely precisely this equal right with men to effective interest in the whole of life.’¹ The ‘whole of life’ is, to...

  12. PART SIX Moral Reform, Sexuality, and Birth Control
    (pp. 272-316)

    While moral reform and related issues like sexuality had been addressed by feminists internationally at least since the founding of the WCTU, for some feminists, these issues dangerously divided women who were striving to work across national boundaries. Karen Offen points out that the IAW, for instance, ruled out any consideration of ‘free love, birth control, and ‘marriage slavery’ … on the grounds that they had religious, national and cultural implications.’¹ Offen quotes Carrie Chapman Catt, who suggested that the organization ‘must advise and aid very gently, but wait for the women themselves of each nation to move effectively.’² Leila...

  13. PART SEVEN Work
    (pp. 317-352)

    From the first half of the nineteenth century, social reformers addressed the conditions under which women and children worked and agitated for legislative protections. While the link these reforms made between women and children later came to be a bone of contention for feminists, the gendering of labour laws was one of the central themes of international organizing within the women’s movement. Protective labour legislation was particularly sought by working-class and some socialist women, or by middle-class women on behalf of working women, while middle- and upper-class women were keen to address access to professions and ‘respectable’ positions; maternity allowances...

  14. PART EIGHT Peace
    (pp. 353-408)

    European and North American women became involved with peace movements on both a national and international basis in the first half of the nineteenth century, although these peace organizations were not specifically feminist.¹ It was with the creation of a feminist and pacifist weekly,La Paix des Deux Mondes, by the French activist Eugénie Niboyet and the founding in Geneva of l’Association Internationale des Femmes by Marie Pouchoulin-Goegg in 1868 that women began to define peace work as their purview. At the end of the century international feminist organizations began more concertedly to participate in the peace movement from a...