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Charity, Philanthropy, and Civility in American History


  • 11 b/w illus. 1 table
  • Page extent: 480 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.634 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521603539 | ISBN-10: 0521603536)

The study of philanthropy has transcended the structure of traditional disciplines, often involving non-historians in historical analysis. This book presents professional historians addressing the dominant issues and theories offered to explain the history of American philanthropy and its role in American society. The essays develop and enlighten the major themes proposed by the book's editors, in some instances taking issue with each other in the process. The overarching premise is that philanthropic activity in America has its roots in the desires of individuals to impose their visions of societal ideals or conceptions of truth upon their society. To do so, they have organised in groups, frequently defining themselves and their group's role in society in the process.

• Integrated essays on a growing, interdisciplinary, and diffuse field, that provides an attempt at synthesis • Integration of intellectual, cultural, social, and economic histories • Thematic approach offered for distilling and understanding 400 years of history


Introduction: philanthropy in America: historicism and its discontents Lawrence J. Friedman; Part I. Giving and Caring in Early America, 1601–1861: 1. Giving in America: from charity to organised philanthropy Robert Gross; 2. Protestant missionaries: pioneers of early American philanthropy Amanda Porterfield; 3. The origins of Anglo-American sensibility G. J. Barker Benfield; 4. The Dartmouth College case and the legal design of American philanthropy Mark McGarvie; 5. Rethinking assimilation: American Indians and the practice of Christianity, 1800–1861 Stephen Warren; 6. Antebellum reform: salvation, self-control, and social transformation Wendy Gamber; Part II. The Nationalisation and Internationalising of American Philanthropy, 1861–1930: 7. Law, reconstruction, and African-American education in post-emancipation South Foy Finkenbine; 8. Women and political culture Kathleen McCarthy; 9. From gift to foundation: the philanthropic lives of Mrs Russell Sage Ruth Crocker; 10. 'Curing evils at their source': the arrival of 'scientific giving' Judy Sealander; 11. Missions to the world: philanthropy abroad Emily Rosenberg; Part III. Philanthropic Reconstructions, 1930–2001: 12. Failure and resilience: pushing the limits in depression and wartime David Hammack; 13. Faith and good works: catholic giving and taking Mary Oates; 14. In defence of diversity: Jewish thought from assimilation to cultural pluralism Stephen Whitfield; 15. Waging the Cold War in the third world: the foundations and the challenges of development Gary Hess; 16. Philanthropy, the civil rights movement, and the politics of racial reform Claude Clegg; 17. Philanthropy, the welfare state, and the careers of public and private institutions since 1945 Peter Hall; Epilogue: The European Comparison William Cohen.


'As a volume offering a view of the current 'state of the field', this work is arguably the most important historical study of philanthropy to be published in recent years … Charity, Philanthropy, and Civility should certainly inspire future historians to tackle the topic and, perhaps more important, it will provide practitioners and non-historians with a deeper understanding of the roots of American philanthropy.' Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

'… the editors have produced a book that reflects the research and thinking of the current generation of American history scholars … The book goes a long way toward addressing the lack of sustained historical research into philanthropy. It shows yet again that Americans saw themselves as co-operative members of groups and societies more than as isolated individuals.' Institute of Historical Research

'… timely and much needed … a well-designed, perceptive and stimulating book. The volume never loses track of the larger historical context and rarely gets bogged down in overly specialised case studies. Moreover, Friedman and McGarvie avoid the pitfalls of many edited collections …'.


Lawrence J. Friedman, Robert Gross, Amanda Porterfield, G. J. Barker Benfield, Mark D. McGarvie, Stephen Warren, Wendy Gamber, Roy Kinkenbine, Kathleen McCarthy, Ruth Crocker, Judy Sealander, Emily Rosenberg, David Hammack, Mary Oates, Stephen Whitfield, Gary Hess, Claude Clegg, Peter Hall, William Cohen

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