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Women and Philanthropy

Nannie Helen Burroughs photo and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton by Daniel Huntington,

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 religious 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, top left) 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.

Meet a Philanthropist: A Conversation with Helen LaKelly Hunt

November 14, 2018

Join philanthropist and women’s funding leader Helen LaKelly Hunt in the Smithsonian’s first Meet a Philanthropist program. 

Dr. Amanda B. Moniz, the museum’s David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy, speaks with Hunt about co-founding Women Moving Millions, a global network of donors who have given $1 million or more to advancing women and girls globally. Learn about Hunt’s efforts to catalyze women philanthropists and elevate the stories of notable women givers by literally writing them into history.

Meet a Philanthropist: A Conversation with Helen LaKelly Hunt

Join philanthropist and women’s funding leader Helen LaKelly Hunt in the Smithsonian’s first MEET A PHILANTHROPIST program. Hunt speaks with Dr. Amanda B. Moniz, David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy, about co-founding Women Moving Millions, a global network of donors who have given $1 million or more to advancing women and girls globally. Hunt also describes her efforts to catalyze women philanthropists and elevate the stories of notable women givers by literally writing them into history.

2015 Theme: Launch of the Philanthropy Initiative

Caption: Clockwise from top right: Bill Gates; Nina Easton, Melinda Gates, Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn; Henry Timms, Premal Shah, Diana Morris, David J. Skorton, Carka Hayden, Sarah Hemminger. Photos courtesy of the National Museum of American History. 

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