Women and Philanthropy

Nannie Helen Burroughs photo and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton by Daniel Huntington,
(left) Nannie Helen Burroughs (bottom left), around 1910.
Gift of Nannie Helen Burroughs School.
(right) Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton by Daniel Huntington, mid-1800s
Gift of Graham Windham

Did You Know?

Women have been active in organized philanthropy in what’s now the United States for centuries. Since the colonial era, Catholic women have provided charitable services, as did nuns of the Ursuline order in French colonial New Orleans in the 1700s. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, white women and African American women separately began founding charitable organizations in the early United States. Eliza Hamilton (featured above right) and other women in New York City established one of the earliest orphanages in the country. In Newport, Rhode Island, African American women founded the African Female Benevolent Society in 1809.

Nannie Helen Burroughs (featured above) founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in 1909 in Washington, D.C., to promote independence for African American women and girls in the face of segregation and limited opportunities. African Americans throughout the United States supported the institution.

Gender matters in philanthropy, as do religion, race, and class. These resources explore a range of women’s experiences in philanthropy at different points in American history.

Making money and doing good: The story of an African American power couple from the 1800s

An image of a violet fraternal collar--opulently decorated with golden embroidery and a hand painted eye

Showing support for the Great War with knitting needles

Poster with "You can help" and "American Red Cross." Imagine in pencil line drawing of a woman knitting. She sits in a chair, looking at her work.

Who tells Eliza's story? Philanthropy and "Hamilton: An American Musical"

A green three piece suit, white tights, and black buckle shoes.

Elizabeth Keckly: Businesswoman and philanthropist

 Printed portrait of Elizabeth Keckly included in her autobiography "Behind the Scenes"

Meet Jenny Lind, one of America's first female celebrities

Black and white illustration of woman with her hair in an up-do with flowers. Dress is off-the-shoulder style, short sleeved. Her hands are place peacefully one and top of the other.

The Hagan internship honors a history lover's legacy with a focus on women's history

Bette and Jim Hagan, 1980

The delicate "war laces" of World War I

Square shaped lace example, white on black background