Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2013—2014 Forum on Violence
CAS, 2014; History
Studies in Nonviolence: The Gendered Nature of Quaker Charity
For a holistic understanding of violence, the study of its antithesis, nonviolence, is necessary. A primary example of nonviolence is charity. Not only does charity prevent violence from rogue vagrants, but it also is an act of kindness. In seventeenth-century England, when a third of the population lived below the poverty line, charity was crucial. Especially successful were Quaker charity communities and the early involvement of Quaker women in administering aid. This is remarkable, considering that most parish-appointed overseers of the poor were usually male. What explains this phenomenon that women became the main administrators of Quaker charity? Filling in this gap of knowledge would shed further light on Quaker gender dynamics and the Quaker values that are still found in American culture today.