Albion Fellows BaconIndiana's Municipal HousekeeperRobert G. Barrows
Examines the career of a leading Progressive Era reformer.
Born in Evansville, Indiana, in 1865, Albion Fellows was reared in the nearby hamlet of McCutchanville and graduated from Evansville High School. She worked for several years as a secretary and court reporter, toured Europe with her sister, married local merchant Hilary Bacon in 1888, and settled into a seemingly comfortable routine of middle-class domesticity. In 1892, however, she was afflicted with an illness that lasted for several years, an illness that may have resulted from a real or perceived absence of outlets for her intelligence and creativity.
Bacon eventually found such outlets in a myriad of voluntary associations and social welfare campaigns. She was best known for her work on behalf of tenement reform and was instrumental in the passage of legislation to improve housing conditions in Indiana. She was also involved in child welfare, city planning and zoning, and a variety of public health efforts. Bacon became Indiana's foremost "municipal houskeeper," a Progressive Era term for women who applied their domestic skills to social problems plaguing their communities.
She also found time to write about her social reform efforts and her religious faith in articles and pamphlets. She published one volume of children's stories, and authored several pageants. One subject she did not write about was women's suffrage. While she did not oppose votes for women, suffrage was never her priority. But the reality of her participation in public affairs did advance the cause of women's political equality and provided a role model for future generations.
Robert G. Barrows, Associate Professor of History at Indiana University at Indianapolis, was previously an editor at the Indiana Historical Bureau. He has published several journal articles and book chapters dealing with Indiana history and American urban history, and he coedited (with David J. Bodenhamer) the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press).
ContentsThe Sheltered LifeThe Clutch of the ThornsAmbassador of the PoorThe Homes of IndianaChild WelfareCity Plans and National Housing StandardsProse, Poetry, and PageantsMunicipal Housekeeper and Inadvertent Feminist
"Barrows (history, Indiana Univ.--Indianapolis, and coeditor of the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, 1994) provides new insight into the Progressive era and sheds light on the multiple roles women played in turn--of--the--century reform efforts. Married with children and dissatisfied and ill in a life of Victorian nubile bliss, Bacon developed a sensitivity to the less fortunate trapped in sweatshops and packed into filthy tenements. Her evolving social conscience, reinforced by the social gospel, led her down many reformist paths to earn the title of Indiana's municipal housekeeper; this epithet is a term for activist women who applied their.. domestic skills to social problems plaguing their communities. A writer, speaker, legislative lobbyist, civic leader, mother, and wife, Bacon packed it all in; to read of her many accomplishments is to understand more clearly Progressivism and the role of women within it. It is a good companion to Allen F. Davis's American Heroine: The Life and Legend of Jane Addams (CH, Jan'74) and is highly recommended for those with interests in regional, political, social, cultural, and women's history. Photographs; notes; select bibliography; and index.April 2001"
--P. D. Travis "Texas Woman's University "
Contents Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter 1: The Sheltered Life Chapter 2: The Clutch of the Thorns Chapter 3: Ambassador of the Poor Chapter 4: The Homes of Indiana Chapter 5: Child Welfare Chapter 6: City Plans and National Housing Standards Chapter 7: Prose, Poetry, and Pageants Chapter 8: Municipal Housekeeper and Inadvertent Feminist Notes Select Bibliography Index