Relations of Rescue: The Search for Female Moral Authority in the American West, 1874-1939

Synopsis

In this study of late nineteenth-century moral reform, Peggy Pascoe examines four specific cases--a home for Chinese prostitutes in San Francisco, California; a home for polygamous Mormon women in Salt Lake City, Utah; a home for unmarried mothers in Denver, Colorado; and a program for American Indians on the Omaha Reservation in Nebraska--to tell the story of the women who established missionary rescue homes for women in the American West. Focusing on two sets of relationships--those between women reformers and their male opponents, and those between women reformers and the various groups of women they sought to shelter--Pascoe traces the gender relations that framed the reformers' search for female moral authority, analyzes the interaction between women reformers and the women who entered the rescue homes, and raises provocative questions about historians' understanding of the dynamics of social feminism, social control, and intercultural relations.