Marie Bonnevial ( 1841-1918) was one of the first generation of French women to profit from expanded educational opportunities. 1 Raised in a small village outside Lyons by a blacksmith uncle and a laundress aunt, Bonnevial continued her education until she obtained her credentials as a primary school teacher. She became involved in radical politics (the republican movement ofthe 1860s and the Commune of 1871), however, and the conservative government of the 1870s prohibited her from teaching either in the public schools or even privately as a tutor. Bonnevial thus spent several years in voluntary exile, joining her brother in Constantinople and teaching there. When the republican reformers of the 1880s created a freer environment in France, Bonnevial returned to open a school in Paris.
Marie Bonnevial subsequently participated in a variety of radical political organizations. She was one of the first women to be active in freemasonry, the socialist party, and the League of the Rights of Man. The feminist congress of 1896 and the foundation of La Fronde in 1897 added the women's movement to her interests. She joined Durand's staff at La Fronde and contributed many columns on working women; she also joined the LFDF, quickly becoming one of its officers. Bonnevial's greatest feminist interests were the educational and economic rights of women, and she was well placed to work for both causes: she was the first woman named to sit on the government's Conseil supérieur du travail (the High Labor Council) and to the post of administrator of school funds. The following translation is of Bonnevial's study of women in the trade union movement at the turn of the century, which appeared in 1901.