Note from Martha Peterson to Catharine Stimpson, 1971, page 3

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          The only known existing set of the short-lived Impress, edited and largely
written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (then Stetson) in San Francisco in the 1890’s
is in the collection, as is a set also of the better known Forerunner (1909-1915). Of
the latter, writes E.A. Ross, the pioneer sociologist, in a letter to her in 1915, “Just
a line to express appreciation of the October Forerunner. What impresses me is the
freshness of it all, - as if Eve could have visited our time, sized it all up and com-
mented upon it.”

Mrs. Gilman’s major work, Women and Economics, came out in 1898 and
developed the thesis on which all her later books rested, namely that woman’s
economic dependence on man was the true source of her bondage. It was the forth-
right and logical analysis of this dilemma that brought the author world fame and
led to the book’s being translated into seven different languages. Some called it the
most significant piece of work on women since John Stuart Mill’s Subjection of

Given the central importance of this book, it is fascinating to read her own
long letter to George Houghton Gilman, whom she was soon to marry, describing
the genesis of the idea for Women and Economics in July 1897, “and what makes me
more than happy, I have in that ranch week (in Kansas) made an enormous new
step in my sociological theories. So large and valuable a one that I am now
quite clear and determined about the rest of the summer’s work and mean to
have a book ready to read to you when I get back!” In the next twenty pages of her
letter she goes on to develop step by step the main thesis of Women and Economics
which she was subsequently to write at white heat, completing the first draft in
seventeen days while staying at five different houses.

Equally interesting are letters of reaction to the book from distinguished
peers in the world at large. A letter in Jane Addams’ own hand reads in part,
“Mrs. Kelley (Florence Kelley of Consumers League fame) and I have just re—
turned from Washington and on the way thither and back we read your book with
the greatest admiration and profit. Mrs. Kelley says that it is the only real contribu-
tion to economics ever made by a woman and she steadily read it through twice.
It puts so perfectly clearly many things which I have been fumbling after that I feel
much indebted to you for getting them out.”

What this collection can mean to the history of feminist thought becomes
increasingly apparent as we work on the cataloguing of the Gilman papers. It is to
the Friends of the Schlesinger Library that we owe a debt of gratitude for their
presence here.

The purpose of this letter was to say thank you. For those of you whose
habit of year—end giving in the past has included the Schlesinger Library we are
enclosing a return envelope. To all of you we do say thank you and send our warm
and seasonal greetings.


Mrs. M. Adolphus Cheek, Jr.

November 30, 1971