Evansville as a Breeding Ground for Female Reform

Brianna McLaughlin


The nineteenth Century was an era of social reform, particularly in regards to women.  Religious middle ot upper-class women joined forced in an effort to end prostitution and immoral crimes.  In an attempt to "heal" prostitutes and other deliquents, reformers founded institutions including maternity homes.  The Evansville Home for the Friendless was a maternity home established in 1870 and it operated for almost 100 years.  It housed unmarried mothers as well as other women judged to be morally felonious.  Evansville's Home for the Friendless, as well as similar institutions, played a part in the larger picture of reform in nineteenth century America that has not yet been explored.  In this article, I explain why a maternity home came to exist in Evansville considering these institutions were more common, and could typically only be supported by, larger cities.  Evansville is a unique case study in the grand scheme of female reform.


maternity home; Evansville

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