By Edith Guerrier
The tale of the existence and several other careers of Edith Guerrier, who embodied the beliefs of the "New ladies" in turn-of-the century the US
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Additional info for An independent woman: the autobiography of Edith Guerrier
In 1950, one hundred comfortably middle-aged, middle-class women, alumnae of a settlement house club called the Saturday Evening Girls, gathered in Boston to commemorate the fifty-first anniversary of the founding of their group. All of them had been immigrants, or children of immigrants, and most of them had spent their childhoods in the crowded and unhygienic tenements of Boston's North End. Their guest of honor was the group's founder, Edith Guerrier, who was celebrating the eightieth anniversary of her birth.
She saw it as a place where she and the young women working together would gain ''practice in thinking" and learn "the value of cooperation" (p. 88). Guerrier realized that her own life experience had been her best preparation. " She concluded, "I am grateful for this experience, which makes it easier for me to get the point of view of the girl who is literally on her own" (p. 69). It was her example as a new woman not dependent on anyone else for economic support that she presented to be emulated.
Although I hoped to find something of value there, I was not prepared for the astonishing collection that pre- Page xx sented itself: a large archive that included Ricketson family papers in wonderful variety, letters, photographs, diaries, and, most welcome of all, a complete autobiography written by Edith Guerrier herself. She had started writing it in 1950 at the age of eighty, adding as a final coda, a note about the fifty-first anniversary celebration of the Saturday Evening Girls. My thoughts of an article-length study instantly vanished, to be replaced by a desire to edit the autobiography, which I believe she had clearly intended to publish, and see it into print.