Cover image for Golden cables of sympathy : the transatlantic sources of nineteenth-century feminism
Golden cables of sympathy : the transatlantic sources of nineteenth-century feminism
McFadden, Margaret.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lexington, Ky. : University Press of Kentucy, [1999]

Physical Description:
xiv, 270 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Introduction: on beginning to tell a "best-kept secret" -- Weaving the delicate web: Lucretia Mott and succeeding generations -- Paving the way: the "miraculous era" in communication and the "unprotected female" -- The ironies of Pentecost: women religious and evangelistic outreach -- Unwitting allies: Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Sand, and the power of literary celebrity -- A developing consciousness: revolutionaries, refugees, and expatriates -- Higher consciousness: reformers and utopians -- Mothers of the matrix (I): Anna Doyle Wheeler, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and forms of feminism -- Mothers of the matrix (II): Fredrika Bremer, Frances Power Cobbe and "world"-traveling -- "A golden cable of sympathy": Aleksandra Gripenberg, the Finland connection, and the 1888 Council of Women -- Appendix A: Some Atlantic community women with international links -- App. B: The relevance and irrelevance to this study of social network analysis -- App. C: Adventurers and invalids -- App. D: International governesses -- App. E: Women transatlantic entrepreneurs in the nineteenth century -- App. F: Women artists abroad.
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HQ1154 .M3965 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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An intricate network of contacts developed among women in Europe and North America over the course of the nineteenth century. These women created virtual communities through communication, support, and a shared ideology. Forged across boundaries of nationality, language, ethnic origin, and even class, these connections laid the foundation for the 1888 International Council of Women and formed the beginnings of an international women's movement. This matrix extended throughout England and the Continent and included Scandinavia and Finland.

In a remarkable display of investigative research, Margaret McFadden describes the burgeoning avenues of communication in the nineteenth century that led to an explosion in the number of international contacts among women. This network blossomed because of increased travel opportunities; advances in women's literacy and education; increased activity in the temperance, abolitionist, and peace reform movements; and the emergence of female evangelicals, political revolutionaries, and expatriates. Particular attention is paid to five women whose decades of work helped give birth to the women's movement by century's end. These ""mothers of the matrix"" include Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton of the United States, Anna Doyle Wheeler of Ireland, Fredrika Bremer of Sweden, and Frances Power Cobbe of England. Despite their philosophic differences, these leaders recognized the value of friendship and advocacy among women and shared an affinity for bringing together people from different cultural settings.

McFadden demonstrates without question that the traditions of transatlantic female communication are far older than most historians realize and that the women's movement was inherently international. No other scholar has painted so complete a picture of the golden cables that linked the women who saw the Atlantic and the borders within Europe as bridges rather than barriers to improving their status.

Author Notes

Margaret McFadden , professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and founder of the Women's Studies Program at Applachian State University, is the editor of NWSA journal .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

By the late 19th century, not only had feminists established a presence in almost every country in Europe and North America, they had also founded several international organizations. McFadden argues that this transnational feminist movement was the (sometimes unintended) result of a network of "female cooperation, communication, and mutual support." Analyzing the biographies of notable women within the Atlantic community, she maintains that international contacts among women were initiated by religious and secular reformers, travelers, and literary celebrities. Facilitated by revolutionary developments in the international communications and transportation infrastructure, these networks then promoted the growth of specifically feminist activism. In consequence, ideas and strategies responding to conditions in one region of the trans-Atlantic community were rapidly assimilated and adapted for use elsewhere. The works of figures as diverse as Mary Wollstonecraft, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Margaret Fuller, and George Sand were broadly translated and marketed as far east as Russia, and tactical innovations quickly made their way from one country to another. Thus, McFadden contends, was the matrix of feminism extended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. N. B. Rosenthal; SUNY College at Old Westbury