Women of Valor


Female Association

Rebecca Gratz, 1781 - 1869

"How hard... it is to have the tastes, the habits, the longings and recollections, if not of affluence, at least of comfort, and yet to be poor."

Young women of Gratz's class and era filled their time with social activities and family duties. Gratz, however, like other members of her family, became involved in benevolent work. In 1801, she, along with her mother, sister and twenty-one other prominent women, founded Philadelphia's first nonsectarian women's charitable organization, The Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances. The Assocation sought to aid honest, industrious women who had fallen upon misfortune. It became a model for most of the women's organizations Gratz would later help to establish—women made all the decisions and accomplished all aspects of the organization's work, including the management of funds. Because of her proficiency as a writer, Gratz became the organization's secretary and served for twenty-two years. As secretary, she took minutes, handled correspondence, authored annual reports, and wrote all other public documents for the organization.

  1. "How hard..." Female Association for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstance Constitution. Courtesy of The Library Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Rebecca Gratz - Female Association." (Viewed on April 17, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/gratz/female-association>.