An examination of the life and thought of Zina Fay Peirce, an American reformer and feminist
Zina ray Peirce (1336-1923), the first wife of Cnarles S. Peirce, America’s great philosopher, was a woman who devoted her life to cause of improving the position of women in America. This study examines her specific accomplishments as a reformer; attitudes about women in nineteenth-century America and the effect such attitudes had on a woman of strong intellect and character; and the influence that she and her husband had on each other.Her early and conditioned interest was to promote the idea of freeing women from domestic drudgery so that they could pursue their own talents and make themselves economically and politically independent. Although not a suffragist or a believer in the equality of the sexes, she believed that women had their own spheres of abilities and interests, as men did. Therefore, she promoted the concepts of cooperative housekeeping and of women voting for other women to represent them in a separate legislative body. The first of these ideas led to the establishment of a cooperative laundry in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1870; the second, to her participation in a Woman’s Parliament which met in New York City in 1869. Both of these endeavors are examined at length, as are her views on abolition, marriage, immigration, education, and sexual mores.The sources of information include numerous letters which she wrote; letters written by others about her; and her published works, which include a novel, pamphlets, and journal and newspaper articles.