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48 BAIULESCU, Maria (1860–1941) Accomplished author, civic organizer, Romanian nationalist and feminist leader. Daughter of Orthodox Archpriest (Protopop) Bartolomeu (1831–1909) and Elena Baiulescu, Maria Baiulescu grew up in an intellectual family in the relatively prosperous region of Brasov and received an exceptionally good education for a Romanian woman at the time. After graduating from the Girls French Institute and the German Secondary School in Brasov, Baiulescu began her writing career as a translator. She published some early articles under the pseudonym of Sulfina. She later used her own name and published widely in Transylvanian newspapers and in the Enciclopedia română (Romanian Encyclopedia). Her topics included poetry, prose and commentaries on society and politics. Her correspondence indicates that she was well connected among Romanian leaders and intellectuals and generally admired for her views. Baiulescu was notably active in Transylvanian civil associations. She translated and wrote plays for the popular Societatea pentru crearea unui fond de teatru român (Society for the Creation of a Romanian Theater Fund). She also served as a lecturer and an author for ‘Astra,’ or the Asociaţiunea transilvană pentru literatura şi cultura poporului român (Transylvanian Association for the Literature and Culture of the Romanian People)—the largest Romanian civil association in the Habsburg Empire— before leading the women’s subsection of Astra’s medical and biopolitical section from 1927 until 1935. A long-standing activist in the Reuniunea Femeilor Române din Braşov (Brasov’s Romanian Women’s Society), she served as the society’s President from 1908 until 1935. In 1913, Baiulescu also initiated the Uniunea Femeilor Române (Union of Romanian Women), an association that brought together over one hundred women’s organizations for the purpose of creating a center where women could meet one another, exchange ideas and work together for common goals. After World War I, she headed the Uniunea Femeilor Române, withdrawing from the leadership of the association in 1935 at the age of seventy five. In her leadership roles and in her writings, Baiulescu emphasized three primary spheres in which women contributed to their communities: the social and philanthropic , the national and the political. Her own social and philanthropic work concen- 49 trated on children, the infirm and the elderly. She is often noted for supporting the boarding school for poor or orphaned girls funded by the Reuniunea Femeilor Române. Under her direction the school taught housekeeping and household industry, theoretical and practical instruction in subjects such as sewing, gardening and hygiene, in addition to academic disciplines such as foreign languages and history. Although the practical skills in housekeeping and household industry confined women to a distinctly ‘feminine’ sphere, they also enabled graduates to support themselves as dressmakers , teachers or governesses. Baiulescu envisioned women at the forefront of the Romanian national movement. Priests and male school teachers had traditionally served as national leaders for village communities (where most Romanians lived), but Baiulescu believed that they had largely abandoned their national roles, for fear of losing their living stipends from what most Romanian nationalists viewed as a centralizing Hungarian state intent on assimilating non-Hungarians (i.e. before 1918). She argued that only women were capable of preserving the Romanian nation. By providing proper care and education for their children, women raised both health standards and national consciousness. Their work, in short, safeguarded the health of the nation. To realize her vision, Baiulescu strove to improve the basic care of children and reduce infant mortality through, for example, basic hygiene standards. She urged Romanian women to teach their children the Romanian language and national traditions and assigned to women the task of preserving Romanian folk costumes. These symbols of Romanian nationality ostensibly separated Romanians from Hungarians, Germans, Jews, Gypsies and all other ‘non-Romanians’ in Hungary, and Baiulescu counted on women to maintain the distinctions. In many ways Baiulescu’s feminism resembles what scholars such as Mary Beth Norton have called “republican motherhood,” especially the ideal of the “mothereducator ”; but, unlike many advocates of a domestic sphere for wives and mothers, Baiulescu also worked to have women accepted in society as equals to men. She was, for instance, a forceful voice for extending suffrage and civil rights to women. In 1918, Baiulescu was a founding member of the Asociaţia pentru emanciparea civilă şi politică a femeilor române (AECPFR, Association for the Civil and Political Emancipation of Romanian Women), dedicated to preparing women for exercising political rights and taking on public duties. In...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9786155053726
Related ISBN
9789637326394
MARC Record
OCLC
868217084
Pages
698
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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