Emily Greene Balch

October 19, 2010 in 1920s-30s, 1940s-1950s, Intellectual history, Political history, Social history

Emily Greene Balch can be categorized into a group that unfortunately too many women fall victim.  Ms. Balch, although being one of the most intelligent women and great activists for equality and peace during her time, fell into obscurity in a society that too often emphasizes what isn’t important.

Ms. Balch was born in Boston to an affluent family.  Though not much about her mother or father is revealed it is known that Ms. Balch was educated and became actively involved in the women’s suffrage movement and the war protests surrounding WWI.  After graduating college Ms. Balch helped found the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  She also became a professor of sociology and economics at Welllesly College in Massachusetts before being fired for her “pacifist” and “regrettable” behaviors.

The question is this: How does someone with credentials such as Ms. Balch get thrown into obscurity and become seemingly irrelevent?  Unfortunately the answer lies within the social structure that too often defines American society; Men at the forefront, women in the background.  Examples of this are endless.  take for instance Anna Mae Clark, Jane Adams, or Aletta Jacobs just to name a few.

When will this stop?  And how long must we tolerate this type of underwhelming recognition?  Ms. Balch, though winning the Noble Peace prize of 1946, still had to share the honor with a man!(John Mott).

It is our responsibilty to ensure that women like Ms. Balch be promoted and regarded as esteemed individuals for what they accomplished and to help deter the neagtive stereotypes and insignificance that is allowed due to their gender.

www.wikipedia.org/emily greene balch.  wiki group.  12 October 2010.  19 October 2010.

4 responses to Emily Greene Balch

  1. This seems to happen time and time again throughout history. I’m just glad to see firsthand through this class how women like Ms. Balch were able to change this problem and gain the recognition they deserve. Thank you Emily Greene Balch!

  2. Yes, I think women from this time period showed unbelievable courage. Ms. Balch just gave so much strength to future women simply through her actions. The fact that she was able to overcome so much just speaks to the type of people that never give up and always stay positive.

  3. The contribution these women made, has made it easier for women today to make something of themselves. While I personally do not feel really inhibited as a female, I know a lot of women still feel they are being challenged because of their sex. I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been during this time.

  4. Don’t forget about the very real conflicts and barriers that the Old Left activists faced in the 30s and 40s! Balch had self-identified as a socialist soon after the turn of the century and took up the call of social work (a discipline begun by the Kentucky lawyer, Sophonisba Breckinridge, at the University of Chicago) as a strong voice for social and economic justice. She was also one of the first to advocate for and force business and industry to accept minimum wage laws and safer working conditions. It’s a little surprising to me that, given the very real antagonisms she must have fought against on a regular basis, she was allowed to travel out of the country (and back in) to receive the Nobel Peace Prize!

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