Meet historian and author Joan Johnson, learn how the suffrage movement was funded in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote in 2020, and join in a discussion about what today's women can learn from our foremothers about leveraging philanthropy for social change.
This special event is co-sponsored by the IUPUI Office for Women and the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
777 Indiana Ave.
About Funding Feminism
Joan Marie Johnson examines an understudied dimension of women’s history in the United States: how a group of affluent white women from the late 19th through the mid-20th centuries advanced the status of all women through acts of philanthropy.
This cadre of activists included Phoebe Hearst, the mother of William Randolph Hearst; Grace Dodge, granddaughter of Wall Street “Merchant Prince” William Earle Dodge; and Ava Belmont, who married into the Vanderbilt family fortune.
Motivated by their own experiences with sexism, and focusing on women’s need for economic independence, these benefactors sought to expand women’s access to higher education, promote suffrage, and champion reproductive rights, as well as to provide assistance to working-class women.
In a time when women still wielded limited political power, philanthropy was perhaps the most potent tool they had. But even as these wealthy women exercised considerable influence, their activism had significant limits. As Johnson argues, restrictions tied to their giving engendered resentment and jeopardized efforts to establish coalitions across racial and class lines.
As the struggle for full economic and political power and self-determination for women continues today, this history reveals how generous women helped shape the movement. And Johnson shows us that tensions over wealth and power that persist in the modern movement have deep historical roots.
Joan Marie Johnson is a historian and faculty coordinator for the Office of the Provost at Northwestern University.