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Quaker Women in Prison Reform

While many Quakers are familiar with the pioneering work of Elizabeth Fry in Newgate Prison, London, relatively few are aware of the additional numbers of Quaker women who struggled to reform prison conditions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. A recent study of women in the United States who were pioneer prison reformers, Their Sisters’ Keepers: Women’s Prison Reform in America, 1830–1930, by Estelle Freedman, listed 33 percent of all the women she studied as Quakers. In addition, I discovered three more Quaker women who should be included. This is a high percentage for our numerically small society, and it🔒

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Margaret Hope Bacon, a member of Central Philadelphia (Pa.) Meeting, is an author and lecturer. She has written 13 books on various aspects of Quaker history and biography, including Abby Hopper Gibbons: Prison Reformer and Social Activist. She is currently working on a book on Quaker women in prison reform. © 2002 Margaret Hope Bacon


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