The Business of Charity: The Woman's Exchange Movement, 1832-1900 (Women in American History)

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9780252024016: The Business of Charity: The Woman's Exchange Movement, 1832-1900 (Women in American History)

In the nineteenth century Woman's Exchanges formed a vast national network that created economic alternatives for financially vulnerable women in a world that permitted few respectable employment options.One of the nation's oldest continuously operating voluntary movements -- many are still in business after more than a century -- the Exchanges were fashionable and popular shops where women who had fallen on hard times could sustain themselves by selling their handiwork on consignment -- without having to seek public employment. Over the century Exchanges became an important forum for entrepreneurial growth and an example of how women used the voluntary sector -- which had so successfully served as a conduit for their political and social reforms -- to advance opportunities for economic independence.

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One of the nation's oldest continuously operating voluntary movements -- many are still in business after more than a century -- Woman's Exchanges were fashionable and popular shops where women who had fallen on hard times could sustain themselves by selling handiwork on consignment -- without having to seek employment in the public sector.

Since the first shop opened in Philadelphia in 1832, Exchanges have provided an important forum for entrepreneurial growth as women have reevaluated their place in society and their ideas about economic independence. As paid work for women became more respectable, proponents of the Exchanges took up Mrs. George Armstrong (Libbie) Custer's cry, "We are all working women! Not a lady among us!"

Kathleen Waters Sander draws on a wealth of research to demonstrate how women used the voluntary sector -- which had so successfully served as a conduit for their political and social reforms -- to advance opportunities for economic independence.

Review:

"Rests on careful research into obscure sources to offer new insights into women's entrepreneurial activities... Well worth reading." -- Margaret Walsh, Business History

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