A conscientious if unexciting biography of the woman who founded the Henry Street Settlement, established the profession of...

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LILLIAN WALD OF HENRY STREET

A conscientious if unexciting biography of the woman who founded the Henry Street Settlement, established the profession of public health nursing, and led a women's peace march in 1914. Siegel tells us that Miss Wald (so called throughout as a reminder of the formality of the times) and Emma Goldman, near the same age, both lived in Rochester as young women. Later Goldman would visit Henry Street, acknowledge Wald's genuine concern, but question her wealthy background and ""palliative"" work. To be sure, the visiting nurse approach is no longer in style, and Siegel acknowledges Wald's middle-class orientation, early naivetÉ, initial urge to do meaningful work (as opposed to a strictly compassionate motivation), conciliatory rather than militant temperament, and the constraints imposed by the rich philanthropists who funded her work. (Jacob Schiff, her chief benefactor, had ""heart"" but no sympathy for strikes or class struggle.) But Siegel also cites the innumerable families and individuals helped or rescued by Henry Street, Wald's untiring care for the sick and hungry, and the many social programs and protective laws she helped effect at the city and federal levels. Much of this, in fact, consists of quotes from grateful Lower East Siders, passages from her reports to Schiff, near-lists and descriptions of famous guests, allies, and supporters, and the tributes and honors that came later along with accusations of socialistic leaning during the Red Scare years. A respectable work, complete with background information on the conditions and climate of the times.

Pub Date: April 18, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983