The Ladies' Health Protective Association: Law Lawyers and Urban Cause Lawyering
32 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2010
Date Written: December 1, 2008
The Ladies Health Protective Association (LHPA) was a late-nineteenth century voluntary organization composed of a group of middle-class women. The women of the LHPA interacting with their environment, neighbors, the courts, private businesses and city and state officials had a significant impact in shaping a multitude of New York City laws and law had a profound affect in creating and molding the work and identity of the organization.
In fact, late nineteenth century middle-class women’s organization’s use of law and legal process may have been a particularly potent strategy. Although institutional legal spaces such as courtrooms and legislatures were male spaces, middle-class white women and law shared a number of characteristics. A separate spheres ideology viewed the home as women’s natural and appropriate sphere and the home and women became associated with virtue and purity. This was contrasted with a male sphere of the market and politics which was understood as being infused with self-interest and potential corruption. Thus the idealized white woman was like an idealized understanding of law -- virtuous, moral, and unsullied by self-interest. As the article explores, the LHPA astutely drew upon such tropes.
Keywords: Women, law, regulation, New York City, health, slaughterhouses, law, housekeeping, air, nuisance
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