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Gender Studies at University of the Pacific and University of Nebraska Press present Dr. Jennifer Helgren, University of the Pacific, and Dr. Kristine Alexander, University of Lethbridge, discussing Helgren's recently released book, "The Camp Fire Girls: Gender Race and American Girlhood, 1910-1980".

About the Book: As the twentieth century dawned, progressive educators established a national organization for adolescent girls to combat what they believed to be a crisis of girls’ education. A corollary to the Boy Scouts of America, founded just a few years earlier, the Camp Fire Girls became America’s first and, for two decades, most popular girls’ organization. Based on Protestant middle-class ideals—a regulatory model that reinforced hygiene, habit formation, hard work, and the idea that women related to the nation through service—the Camp Fire Girls invented new concepts of American girlhood by inviting disabled girls, Black girls, immigrants, and Native Americans to join. Though this often meant a false sense of cultural universality, in the girls’ own hands membership was often profoundly empowering and provided marginalized girls spaces to explore the meaning of their own cultures in relation to changes taking place in twentieth-century America.

Through the lens of the Camp Fire Girls, Jennifer Helgren traces the changing meanings of girls’ citizenship in the cultural context of the twentieth century. Drawing on girls’ scrapbooks, photographs, letters, and oral history interviews, in addition to adult voices in organization publications and speeches, The Camp Fire Girls explores critical intersections of gender, race, class, nation, and disability.

Purchase a copy here: https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/nebraska/9780803286863/

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