Though sisters have been traditionally marginalized in the history of American women’s reform, an examination of the Hartford House of the Good Shepherd demonstrates how, under the mantle of Catholicism, women religious, with their unquestionable chastity, claimed a role in mediating over urban female delinquency in cities like Hartford by creating a new narrative of redemption for their charges, a narrative challenged by both the inmates and an eager press. The sisters sought to redeem both the "wayward" and the "fallen," terms which referred to a wide range of young women in industrial America, from thieves, to, more commonly, teenagers with sexual experiences, unfit parents, or those who simply deviated from norms and expectations. These "wayward" women, however, sought control over their own lives, control that was withheld by the sisters. The newspaper, on the other hand, sought to exploit the inmates (and occasionally the sisters), even as they lauded the institution. Taken together, the three perspectives reveal a multifaceted struggle over the discourse of female delinquency in the industrializing east.


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pp. 23-45
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