"La caridad de una mujer", Francisco Goya. Desastres de la Guerra 1810-1815, Engraving 49/82, Biblioteca Nacional de España

Women and Charity in Spain, is a digital exhibition produced by a team of undergraduate researchers from the University of Mary Washington. It traces the evolution of the concept of women’s charity in Spain, specifically the way in which, beginning with the late Enlightenment period, women utilized the idea of feminine charity in their actions and words to assert themselves politically, economically and socially.

It seems only natural to approach this project the way eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth-century women themselves approached it—that is, in a way that is multifaceted, multivalent, and uses multiple media.  Women’s production about charity was creative (in their poems, novels and short stories), it was informative (in their organizational reports, and in their journalistic writings) and it was political (in their requests for support, and in their feminist or even anti-feminist treatises), and perhaps most importantly it was almost always a group effort.  We hope to capture all those aspects in our project. Through an exhibition of important digital objects, Dr. Elizabeth Franklin Lewis and a team of undergraduate research students from the University of Mary Washington (a public liberal arts university in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA) explore  the ways women thought about, wrote about, and practiced charity from the late Enlightenment period to the early years of the Franco dictatorship.

Our project is divided into three parts, organized by century, which  present in image and text the multiple expressions of the importance of charity to women. The primary texts, images, video and two searchable databases are displayed in the exhibit linked to the right. Student-authored introductory essays, which are linked from the drop-down menus at the top,  place these exhibit items in their historical and cultural context. Also located in the drop down menus, “Our Site” is where you can find suggested ways to navigate the site, the technical details  of the site’s construction on WordPress, along with an article about some of the obstacles we faced as we worked on this project.

Our exhibit items were collected from the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Real Biblioteca del Palacio Real, and the Biblioteca de la Universidad de Deusto, the Museo del Prado, and Google Books. Thanks especially to the Biblioteca Nacional, Museo del Prado, and the Real Biblioteca for granting us permission to display images of items held in their collections. Our work, and two trips to Madrid to research, were generously funded by grants from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Richard Finkelstein, by Mary Kayler and the Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation and by José Angel Sainz and the Center for International Education at the University of Mary Washington.


Your comments are most welcome and invited.


Our Project Team Members are:

Elizabeth Franklin Lewis, Professor of Spanish, University of Mary Washington

Lauren Guzinski, Spanish and Business student, University of Mary Washington (Spring-Fall 2011)

Carley McCready, Spanish student, University of Mary Washington (Spring-Fall 2011)

Lucia Morey, Spanish and Biology student, University of Mary Washington (Spring-Fall 2011)

Christian Vega, International Affairs student, University of Mary Washington (Spring-Fall 2011)

Sarah Abbot, Spanish student, University of Mary Washington (Spring 2012, Fall 2013)

Madeline Albrittain, Spanish student, University of Mary Washington (Spring-Fall 2012)

Lara Pugh,  Spanish student, University of Mary Washington (Spring-Fall 2012)

Katie Lebling, Spanish student, University of Mary Washington (Spring-Fall 2012)

Emily Scheuer, Spanish Student, University of Mary Washington (Fall 2013)

Kaylee Wilsher, Spanish Student, University of Mary Washington (Fall 2013)


With the much needed support of Tim Owens, Martha Burtis, and Jim Groom of  the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT), University of Mary Washington.



 Posted by on September 24, 2013

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