Cover: African American Women and Christian Activism: New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945, from Harvard University PressCover: African American Women and Christian Activism in E-DITION

African American Women and Christian Activism

New York’s Black YWCA, 1905-1945

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • €48.00

ISBN 9780674862661

Publication Date: 01/15/1998

231 pages


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This interesting and useful book fills several important gaps in African-American and women’s history. There has been increasing interest among scholars of black religious activism in women’s political agency, and among scholars of female religious activism in African-American participation. Yet few have looked at a fruitful intersection of these fields, the black Young Women’s Christian Associations (YWCAs). Judith Weisenfeld’s book, as one of the first such works, makes a contribution simply by highlighting this neglected area of study. But it does more than that. It not only traces the history of the New York black YWCA and its leaders, but it also usefully places the story in a broader historical context… Weisenfeld’s careful presentation of the scholarly debates over women’s political agency, African-American participation on white-dominated organizations, the process of neighborhood, institutional, and identity formation, and her thoughtful analysis of class, religion, racial politics, and urban development make this a useful and important contribution to the field.—Cheryl Greenberg, American Historical Review

Drawing on a rich collection of autobiographies, letters, stories, interviews, newspaper and journal articles, archives, film, and secondary literature, Judith Weisenfeld has written a fascinating account of the black YWCA of New York City during the first half of the twentieth century. She presents a culturally, socially, and religiously diverse cadre of African-American women who were dedicated to the cause of racial uplift through the employment of Christian principles… This book should be of great use and interest to novices and specialists alike. In addition to being a intriguing history of African-American women’s Christian activism and of black New York, it is also filled with engaging stories that make readers want to know more… In her introduction, Weisenfeld writes, ‘I have joined others in taking up the challenge of revealing African American women’s strategies, challenges, and contributions to American life.’ With this work, she has joined them in a most admirable manner.—Cecilia A. Moore, Church History

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