Belyea, Marlou. "The New England Female Moral Reform Society, 1835-1850:
Put Down the
Libertine, Reclaim the Wanderer, Restore the Outcast.'" Typescript. 1976.
Dubois, Ellen. "Women's Rights and Abolition: The Nature of the Connection."
Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Abolitionists, ed. Lewis Perry
and Michael Fellman,
238-51. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979.
This brief paper is the only institutional study of the NEFMRS available.
Especially helpful are the
tables listing biographical data and affiliations of
Berg, Barbara J. The Remembered Gate: Origins of American Feminism: The
Woman and the City,
1800-1860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
This work and those of Carroll Smith-Rosenberg were the first to put
female moral reform in New
York on the map of U.S. women's history. Though her
command of NYFMRS /AFMRS discourse
is unmatched, Berg stresses overmuch the radical,
feminist potentialities of the movement.
Boylan, Anne M. "Timid Girls, Venerable Widows and Dignified Matrons: Life Cycle
Organized Women in New York and Boston, 1797-1840." American Quarterly
38 (Winter 1986):
In this pair of articles, Boylan identifies the socio-economic parameters of the
urban leadership of
moral reform in comparison with other women's organizations. She
finds that moral reform
encompassed both young, unmarried and older women, and they came,
not from the mercantile
elite, but the emerging middle class.
________. "Women in Groups: An Analysis of Women's Benevolent Organizations
in New York and
Boston, 1797-1840." Journal of American History 71
(December 1984): 497-523.
Dubois argues that the nascent women's rights movement found a more congenial affiliation
with abolitionism than moral reform, although women in both movements clung to notions
of gender difference.
Ginzberg, Lori D. Women and the Work of Benevolence: Morality, Politics,
Class in the
Nineteenth-Century United States. New Haven: Yale University Press,
In this study of the intersection of ideology and activism of middle class
reformers, Ginzberg finds that the doctrines of true womanhood could both
and subvert women's activism.
Hansen, Debra Gold. Strained Sisterhood: Gender and Class in the
Boston Female Anti-Slavery
Society. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993.
This analysis of the class and ideological divisions among Boston
throws important light on the BFMRS/NEFMRS leadership, since there was considerable
overlap of personnel between the latter and the lower class, evangelical wing of the former.
For a similar analysis of New York female abolitionists in a useful collection, see the Amy
Swerdlow article below.
Hewitt, Nancy A. Women's Activism and Social Change: Rochester, New York,
Cornell University Press, 1984.
This seminal work identifies three groups of activist women in antebellum Rochester.
Moral reformers were an important element of the middle, "perfectionist," group.
Thus Hewitt calls into question Berg and Smith-Rosenberg's interpretations stressing the
feminist content of moral reform.
Hill, Marilyn Wood. Their Sisters Keepers: Prostitution in New York City,
University of California Press, 1993.
This is one of several works which view moral reform in terms of
its contribution to developing
legal, public policy, and law enforcement
approaches to urban prostitution.
Hobson, Barbara Meil. Uneasy Virtue: The Politics of Prostitution and the
American Reform Tradition.
New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1987; Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1990.
In the same category as Hill's book above, the early pages of this work focus on
the NEFMRS. Particularly helpful is Hobson's reading of moral reform discourse. "True
womanhood" ideology, which saw women only as victims, blinded moral reformers to the
possibility of prostitution as a rational choice for young women.
Morantz, Regina. "Making Women Modern: Middle Class Women and Health Reform in 19th
America." Journal of Social History 10 (June 1977): 490-508.
Though she does not mention moral reform societies, Morantz explains the appeal of health
reform to antebellum women, which in turn helps explain why it was such an important
part of moral reform advocacy.
Ryan, Mary P. Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County,
New York, 1790-1865.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.
Along with Nancy Hewitt's, this is a community study in which moral reform
women play a significant part. Incorporating research from an earlier article (see
Ryan argues that the moral reform society was part of a web of female networks in which
women learned a Victorian ideology of domesticity which ultimately retired them to their
middle class homes.
Scott, Anne Firor. Natural Allies: Women's Associations in American History.
Urbana: University of
Illinois Press, 1992.
Scott has the best brief overview of female moral reform in a survey work. She
views the contributions of women's associations in a generally positive light.
Smith, Daniel Scott, and Michael S. Hindus. "Premarital Pregnancy in America
1640-1971: An Overview
and Interpretation." Journal of Interdisciplinary History
4 (Spring 1975): 537-70.
This seminal article, and others by Smith, presents data for the major demographic change
that substantiates the shift from patriarchal to "republican" family formation and that
underlies legal changes favoring women and moral reform's appeal to women.
Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll. "Beauty, the Beast, and the Militant Woman: A Case Study
in Sex Roles and
Social Stress in Jacksonian America." American Quarterly 23
562-84. In Disorderly
Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America, 109-128. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1985.
This article, together with Barbara Berg's The Remembered Gate above, was the
first to put female moral reform in New York on the map of U.S. women's history. Lacking the
class analysis of later studies, Smith-Rosenberg presented the movement as another antecedent
of women's radicalism, along side the more well known woman's rights movement.
________. Religion and the Rise of the American City: The New York City
1812-1870. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971.
In this book based on her Ph.D. dissertation and incorporating the above article,
Smith-Rosenberg presents in a later chapter the new institutional direction in which the
New York society, renamed the American Female Guardian Society, went after 1846.
Swerdlow, Amy. "Abolition's Conservative Sisters: The Ladies' New York City Anti-Slavery Societies,
1834-1840." In The Abolitionist Sisterhood: Women's Political Culture in Antebellum America,
ed. Jean Fagan Yellin and John C. Van Horne, 31-44. Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
This analysis of female abolitionists in New York is similar to Debra Gold Hansen's of
Boston abolitionists (see above). In fact, this collection includes an article by Hansen encapsulating
her findings on Boston women.
Walters, Ronald G. The Antislavery Appeal: American Abolitionism After 1830.
Hopkins University Press, 1976.
Several chapters of this study of antislavery writing are useful for interpreting
moral reform discourse. Especially insightful are Walters' search for commonalities between the
Garrisonian and political factions of antislavery and his arguments about the nexus of power and
sexuality, and the rift between revivalism and reform, in the perception of abolitionists.
Whiteaker, Larry Howard. "Moral Reform and Prostitution in New York City, 1830-1860."
Dissertation. Princeton University, 1977.
Among the values of this full-length study, Whiteaker sees the origins of the NYFMRS in the
context of, and in reaction to, rescue work with prostitutes, and he emphasizes the
role of male supporters and opponents in the shaping of female moral reform.
Belyea, Marlou. "The New England Female Moral Reform Society, 1835-1850: Put Down the Libertine, Reclaim the Wanderer, Restore the Outcast.'" Typescript. 1976. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College.
Dubois, Ellen. "Women's Rights and Abolition: The Nature of the Connection." Antislavery Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Abolitionists, ed. Lewis Perry and Michael Fellman, 238-51. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979.