Women, Culture, and Community: Religion and Reform in Galveston, 1880-1920

Synopsis

In this work, Elizabeth Turner addresses a central question in post-Reconstruction social history: why did middle-class women expand their activities from the private to the public sphere and begin, in the years just before World War I, an unprecedented activism? Using Galveston as a case study, Turner examines how a generally conservative, traditional environment could produce important women's organizations for Progressive reform. She concludes that the women of Galveston, though slow to respond to national movements, were stirred to action on behalf of their local community. Local organizations, particularly Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, and traditional everyday social activities provided a nurturing environment for budding reformers, and a foundation for activist organizations and programs such as poor relief and progressive reform. Ultimately, women became politicized even as they continued their roles as guardians of traditional domestic values. Women, Culture, and Community will appeal to scholars and students of the post-Reconstruction South, women's history, activist history, and religious history.