SUMMARY ´ Maternal Justice Miriam Van Waters and the Female Reform Tradition

Estelle B. Freedman ñ 1 SUMMARY

Is a strikingly unfashionable sentiment today Jane Meredith Adams San Francisco Chronicle Book Review Editor's Recommended SelectionThis finely crafted biography is both an engrossing read and a richly complicated account of a reformer whose work bridged the eras of voluntarist charitable activism and professional social service Sherri Broder Women's Review of BooksThis is a sympathetic highly personal biography revealing of both the author's responses to her subject's life and in considerable detail Van Waters's family traumas illnesses and love affairs Elizabeth Israels Perry Journal of American History


Maternal Justice Miriam Van Waters and the Female Reform Tradition

Celebrated prison reformer Miriam Van Waters made history for her sensational battle to retain the superintendency of the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women in 1949 Maternal Justice provides a compelling biography of this early lesbian activist by moving beyond the controversy to tell the story of a remarkable woman whose success rested upon the power of her own charismatic leadership Estelle B Freedman draws from Van Waters's diaries letters and personal papers to recreate her complex personal life unveiling the disparity between Van Waters's public persona and her agonized private soul With the power an

REVIEW Maternal Justice Miriam Van Waters and the Female Reform Tradition

D elegance of a novel Maternal Justice illuminates this historical context casting light on the social welfare tradition on women's history on the American feminist movement and on the history of sexuality Maternal Justice is as much a work of history as it is biography bringing to life not only a remarkable woman but also the complex political and social milieu within which she worked and lived Kelleher Jewett The NationThis sympathetic biography reclaims Van Waters for history Publishers WeeklyThe Van Waters legacy as Freedman gracefully presents is that she cared about the lives of women behind bars It

2 thoughts on “Maternal Justice Miriam Van Waters and the Female Reform Tradition

  1. says:

    An inspiring and intriguing story of the life of an important woman in American history A must read for those interested in women's history Highly recommended

  2. says:

    First of all this book was assigned reading for one of my classes Second of all that does not matter I love this book It is the biography of Miriam Van Waters who dedicated her life to prison reform specifically female prison reform The books starts with an introduction into how Miriam came to be that she was born from a minister and a woman who wanted than what she got Miriam grew up wanting form her own life not only to create a better life for herself but so that she could better the lives of those around her mostly her family her mother She got her Bachelors degree her Masters degree and even her PhD in a time when girls didn't really go to college and in many cases women weren't allowed to go to collegeShe then took it upon herself to focus on the problems of juvenile criminals creating a safe place for them to be reformed and rehabilitated she battled politicians and the public in order to bypass the punitive style that was being used and to focus on a maternal style She wanted to make all of her charges her children as she felt that problem children cam from problem homes Not only was she making headway with this idea but she began to gain a massive amount of support from women reformers and even her own personal friends It seems that Miriam was living the life of a homosexual though she did not see it that way and she did nothing to present herself in that manner as at this time in our history to be homosexual or a lesbian was to be deviant or pathologicalStrangely this did not stop her from creating some very powerful and passionate connections that lasted for over 50 years I dare anyone to argue that a relationship that loved lasted and supported for over 50 years to be deviant or pathological These friends were not just by the wayside strangers they were powerful and leading women in the country that banded together to make change in prisons and create a safe and productive place for these women to thrive and flourish When one needed help they all banded together to make things happenI give this book an A for both style and substance The book was very well written well researched and just exciting enough to keep me glued to the pages I have already begun to look for further books by the author

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