by Daphne Spain
University of Minnesota Press, 2001
Cloth: 978-0-8166-3531-3 | Paper: 978-0-8166-3532-0
Library of Congress Classification HQ1420.S64 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.420973


Reclaims the lost history of women’s contributions to the development of American cities

In the days between the Civil War and World War I, women rarely worked outside the home, rarely went to college, and, if our histories are to be believed, rarely put their mark on the urban spaces unfolding around them. And yet, as this book clearly demonstrates, women did play a key role in shaping the American urban landscape.

To uncover the contribution of women to urban development during this period, Daphne Spain looks at the places where women participated most actively in public life—voluntary organizations like the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Salvation Army, the College Settlements Association, and the National Association of Colored Women. In the extensive building projects of these associations—boarding houses, vocational schools, settlement houses, public baths, and playgrounds—she finds clear evidence of a built environment created by women. Exploring this environment, Spain reconstructs the story of the "redemptive places" that addressed the real needs of city dwellers—especially single women, African-Americans, immigrants, and the poor—and established an environment in which newcomers could learn to become urban Americans.