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Women as Activists


Women were among the social reformers who wrote, spoke, and organized against slavery during the antebellum years. Leading abolitionists included such women as northerners Lydia Maria Childs and Harriet Beecher Stowe; ex-slaves Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman; and sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimke, originally from a slaveholding family in South Carolina. Abolitionists, male or female, were always a radical minority even in Northern society. Warfare mobilized many more women as organizers and volunteers in the U.S. Sanitary and U.S. Christian commissions, the two major Northern relief organizations of the day. The commissions, both founded in 1861, promoted clean and healthy conditions in Union Army camps, provided services to soldiers, set up hospitals and sent nurses, and raised funds for supplies. Shown here is a wood engraving of Angelina Grimke.


Angelina Emily Grimké (1805-1879). Wood engraving, LC-USZ61-1609 (b&w film copy neg.) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.