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Ladies and housemaids: Gender and charity

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Chapter Summary

Wealthy upper-class women were as active in charity as men and equally motivated by religion. This chapter focuses both on these ladies and on the women and children from the working class who received their care. In the nineteenth century the female sex did not have equal rights in legal or social matters. Girls and women from all layers of society were subordinate to boys and men of their own class. Women from the working class were hardly educated at all and most of them became housemaids. The radius of action of the ladies was limited to the private domain but their devotion to the poor brought them out into the public domain. Dutch historical research has paid scant attention to the charitable care provided by Catholic sisters and ladies, although the Dutch sisters were involved in care in greater numbers and at an earlier stage, than Dutch Protestant women.

Keywords: Catholic sisters; charitable care; charity; Dutch Protestant women; equal rights; gender; housemaids; upper-class women



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