This is a soul-stirring era," remarked the Reverend William Mitchell in 1835, "and will be so recorded in the annals of time." Countless antebellum reformers agreed. The United States was awash in efforts to change itself, a "sisterhood of reforms" emerging to characterize the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Americans. In all of this, women played an important role. In her latest publication, Professor Ginzberg offers a view of women and antebellum reform through two lenses: one focused on the ideas about women, religion, class, and race that shaped reform movements; and another that observes actual women as they participated in the work of social change. For women, a commitment to reform offered a broader sense of their place in the world-and of their responsibility to set it aright. By considering the efforts of these women-distributing bibles, tracts, and charity, fighting intemperance, opposing slavery, or demanding their rights as women-the reader gains a richer understanding of the antebellum era itself.
Lori D. Ginzberg is Associate Professor of History and Women?s Studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics, and Class in the Nineteenth-Century United States, which was co-winner of the 1991 National Historical Society?s Book Prize in American History. She has written numerous articles on nineteenth-century women?s political and intellectual history, including ??Pernicious Heresies?: Women?s Political Identities and Sexual Respectability in the Nineteenth Century,? in Alison Parker and Stephanie Cole, eds., Women and the Unstable State in Nineteenth-Century America, and ??The Hearts of Your Readers will Shudder?: Fanny Wright, Infidelity, and American Freethought,? American Quarterly 46, which won the Constance Rourke prize. In 1995-96 she was a Fulbright senior teaching fellow at the Hebrew university in Jerusalem. Lori Ginzberg lives in Philadelphia.