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The Fierce Life of Grace Holmes CarlsonCatholic, Socialist, Feminist$
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Donna T. Haverty-Stacke

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479802180

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479802180.001.0001

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(p.80) 3 Sisterhoods
The Fierce Life of Grace Holmes Carlson

Donna T. Haverty-Stacke

NYU Press

Chapter 3 first traces how Grace built a public career for herself in the SWP, working as Minnesota state organizer and running for US Senate in 1940. The chapter also examines how Grace became one of the eighteen Trotskyists who was convicted of violating the Smith Act in 1941. Of vital importance to Grace’s experiences within the SWP and to her survival at Alderson prison in 1944 was her sisterhood of women comrades, which included her biological sister, Dorothy Schultz. Grace’s rich correspondence during the year she spent in prison reveals not only the connections and concerns shared by her and her women friends but also Grace’s relationship with the mostly poor and very young women incarcerated with her at Alderson. Both these experiences served as the inspiration for the working-class Marxist feminism that Grace came to articulate in her writings for the Militant and in her 1945 “Women in Prison” speaking tour. Grace’s experiences and writings were part of the Left’s answer to the woman question during the 1940s. Her story adds to the history of feminisms on the left during the 1940s and early 1950s, the period between the first and second waves.

Keywords:   Dorothy Schultz, sisterhood, feminisms, Alderson prison, The Militant, Smith Act, Marxist feminism, woman question

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