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The making of charitable history

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Chapter Summary

The Poor Sisters of the Divine Child left a considerable mark on church and society, and they developed various interpretations of their past. This chapter sees two aspects of the sisters' reconstructions of their own past. Firstly, writing history is an expression of self-understanding: the sisters had a certain understanding of who they were. It focuses on what the diverse images of the past tell us about continuously altering self-perception of the sisters. Secondly, the construction of history is about interpretative constructions and self-evaluation: the images created of the past contain a value judgement. What did the sisters qualify as 'good'? And which obviously not so positive aspects were, at particular moments, suddenly erased from historical narrative? The chapter provides information about the societal context in general, i.e. how others saw the sisters. Since 1920, critical Dutch laywomen have encouraged a less anti-worldly and more professional manifestation of charitable care.

Keywords: charitable history; self-evaluation; self-understanding; sisters; The Poor Sisters of the Divine Child; value judgement



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