Type of Document Dissertation Author Moran, Patricia Joan Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-05092007-020727 Title "Hide It Under a Bush, Hell, No!" Women's Volunteer Associations as Adult Education Initiatives Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Peter B. Easton Committee Chair Emanuel Shargl Committee Member Karen L. Laughlin Committee Member Victoria Maria Macdonald Committee Member Keywords
- Friends Making a Difference
- extension clubs
- Cottey College
- P.E.O. Sisterhood
- Women's Institutes
Date of Defense 2007-12-14 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
Economic and social changes in the status of European and North American women through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries provided opportunities for their educational and occupational advancement, but they suffered from a lack of formal education. Facing industrialization and geographical displacement, they turned to nonformal education. Through their volunteer organizations, they found ways to obtain necessary facts, build new knowledge, refine traditional skills, establish social networks, and increase their political awareness. They were and continue to be empowered by the planning of, participation in, and evaluation of their social events, reading circles, study groups, and community service activities.
The purpose of this study was to contribute to better understanding of the dynamics within and between these groups, and to highlight links between nonformal and formal educational initiatives. The unanswerable “If women’s groups have done so much, why don’t we know about it” was partially answered by data from the Women’s Institute (WI), the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC), and the American Association of University Women (AAUW), etc. These organizations had not been compared with each other previously. Interviews with members of various women’s organizations in Ontario, Nebraska, North Carolina and Florida showed contemporary women still use their volunteer organizations to define problems, make friends, construct learning initiatives, and evaluate their achievements. These interviews and previous publications provided evidence about how women acquired and disseminated new knowledge, and how their efforts in the nonformal sector mirrored formal education. When data on the WI, NACWC, AAUW, and other women’s groups were used to answer the research questions, a common—but complex—pattern of behavior became apparent. Volunteer groups at every level of society provided a safe haven for members and socialized them into being more efficient and modern homemakers, better citizens, and more educated members of society.
With no new younger members and an aging population, these valuable institutions of nonformal education are dying out. Older members take their skills and their institutional memory with them to the grave. Further research is needed to discover if the populations that were previously served by volunteer organizations are now gaining their information, new friends, and opportunities for political action in other ways—or if hegemonic forces are shutting them down organizationally at the same time demographics are shutting them down individually.
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