By Regina G. Kunzel
Through the first half the 20th century, out-of-wedlock being pregnant got here to be noticeable as the most pressing and compelling difficulties of the day. the trouble to outline its that means fueled a fight between 3 teams of ladies: evangelical reformers who seemed single moms as fallen sisters to be stored, a brand new new release of social employees who considered them as challenge women to be taken care of, and single moms themselves. Drawing on formerly unexamined case documents from maternity houses, Regina Kunzel explores how ladies negotiated the drawback of unmarried being pregnant and analyzes different methods they understood and represented single motherhood. Fallen ladies, challenge women is a social and cultural heritage of out-of-wedlock being pregnant within the usa from 1890 to 1945. Kunzel analyzes how evangelical ladies drew on a protracted culture of girl benevolence to create maternity houses that will redeem and reclaim single moms. She exhibits how, by means of the 1910s, social staff suffering to accomplish specialist legitimacy attempted to dissociate their very own paintings from that past culture, exchanging the reform rhetoric of sisterhood with the medical language of professionalism. via interpreting the real and unexplored transition from the conventions of nineteenth-century reform to the pro imperatives of twentieth-century social welfare, Kunzel bargains a brand new interpretation of gender and professionalization. Kunzel locations moving structures of out-of-wedlock being pregnant inside of a extensive historical past of gender, sexuality, type, and race, and argues that the contests between evangelical girls, social staff, and single moms distilled greater generational and cross-class conflicts between girls within the first 1/2 the 20 th century.
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Extra resources for Fallen Women, Problem Girls: Unmarried Mothers and the Professionalization of Social Work, 1890-1945
Even the habits, style, and dress of residents came under evangelical jurisdiction. 116 Although they viewed dress through judgmental middle-class lenses, their attention to its significance was not completely off the mark, for as historian Christine Stansell has argued, "fancy dress signified a rejection of proper feminine behavior and duties. "117 Regulations regarding dress were accordingly strict. "119 Convinced that a working- 32 The Maternity Home Movement class "excess" in dress and style was causally related to the circumstances that brought women to maternity homes, evangelical women envisioned uniforms as middle-class correctives.
Social workers betrayed their anxiety about their professional status in a number of ways, perhaps most obviously by endlessly comparing themselves to established, high-status professionals. The medical analogy, which held the social worker to be a sort of doctor to society, was probably the most frequently drawn. "20 Like doctors and engineers, social workers struggled to prove themselves rigorously and unassailably scientific. "22 Beginning in the late nineteenth century and accelerating in the early twentieth, social work leaders struggled to align their work with that of the scientist.
89 Work in maternity homes was also useful in simply keeping the residents busy and out of trouble. "91 Evangelical women were quick to point out that life in maternity homes included more than work and prayer, and most of the homes boasted carefully planned recreation programs. Few workers in early-twentiethcentury homes elaborated on the details of these programs—some mentioned libraries full of edifying books, music hours, and exercise yards— but all invested play with redemptive and reformative purpose.