Women's Phlanthropy Researcher Earns Doctoral Fellowship

Study of early 20th century women’s holiday houses receives funding from Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (NEWS) -  Megan E. Springate, a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park, is the recipient of the 2014 Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, WPI officials announced today. The award will help Springate complete her dissertation on women’s holiday houses, which were founded in turn of the 20th century America to provide working women affordable and healthy vacations from urban factory life.  

The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy annually awards the $5,000, one-year fellowship to support research and dissertation writing that contributes to understanding of women’s philanthropy or gender differences in philanthropic behavior. WPI created the fellowship in 2009 to expand research in those fields.

Springate is the fourth recipient of the fellowship. Deborah Skolnick Einhorn received the award in 2009 for her dissertation, “Power of the Purse: Jewish Women’s Philanthropy and Social Change.”  Laura Gee won the fellowship in 2010 for her dissertation on a series of studies designed to better understand how donors, especially women, choose among volunteering, fundraising and monetary donations as their preferred means of participating in philanthropy. Brent Pieper was the 2012 recipient for his cross-institutional study of women’s philanthropy initiatives at universities.

“Megan’s research adds valuable insights to the historical literature about the work of middle-class women in philanthropy in early 20th century America. We are particularly pleased that she brings an interdisciplinary approach to exploring the complexities around the motivations of Progressive Era social reformers,” said Dr. Debra Mesch, WPI director and professor of philanthropic studies and public and nonprofit management at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. “Her work on holiday houses serves as a detailed case study in how female philanthropic social reformers negotiated the changing economic, political, social and cultural environments and will contribute new knowledge to a range of disciplines.”

“My research fills a gap in understanding how women across classes worked together and occasionally at odds with each other to improve society in late 19th and early 20th century America,” Springate said. “Archival records and archeological excavation at the Wiawaka holiday house in upstate New York, the longest continuously operating women’s retreat in the United States, document the momentous changes that women experienced at the turn of the 20th century.”  

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