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The Century of the Woman Movement

1878 — Toronto Women’s Literary Club, Toronto Canada


To know what is right, and to pursue it independently of public opinion or of censure, is a high characteristic, and one that we should individually strive to attain. To be swayed by fear of opprobrium, of unpopularity, of the unfashionableness of women reading and thinking for themselves, is to be unfitted for membership in a club like ours . . . .

Every effort that has ever been made for the amelioration or advancement of any class has been decried or tabooed as unpopular. It is a hard matter to get out of the old ruts and, in some soil, hard to make new furrows. But the nineteenth century is eminently an age of progress, and it is preeminently the century that is marked by the woman movement. In all periods there have been able women who have done honor to their sex; but never in any preceding century have women united in a common sisterhood to work for the common cause of freedom — freedom from the bonds of ignorance that enslave alike body and soul.



Source: “The Century of the Woman Movement,” Emily Howard Jennings Stowe, in Standing Before Us: Unitarian Universalist Women and Social Reform, 1776-1936, Ed. Dorothy May Emerson, (Boston: Skinner House Books), 2000, p. 75.