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Comrades and Partners
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With intense passion and commitment, labor reformers and Communist Party activists Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester dedicated themselves both to the cause of economic justice and to each other. Janet Lee traces Hutchins and Rochester's extraordinary ideological journey from Christianity to Communism in this engaging joint biography, regendering the history of the intellectual left at the same time that she shares the interwoven life stories of these remarkable women. This is a biography that explores the complex and multiple contexts that produced Hutchins and Rochester as political subjects and focuses on the tensions and contradictions of their public and private lives. Methodologically ground breaking, Comrades and Partners attempts to disrupt the realist frame of research and writing in relation to both subject and author: subject in terms of the myth of an unfolding, coherent self and author in terms of highlighting the boundaries between fact and fiction. Lee has produced an invaluable addition to the study of women's history, a volume which will prove indespensible to scholars of history, gender studies, and the postmodern approach.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Dutiful Daughters Chapter 2 Early Years Chapter 3 Social Reform Chapter 4 Missionary Zeal Part 5 Christian Socialists Chapter 6 Sisterhood of the Smiling Countenace Chapter 7 Christian Justice Chapter 8 The Happy Travelers Part 9 Old Left Loyalists Chapter 10 A New Faith Chapter 11 Party Intellectuals Chapter 12 What's Past Is Prologue

About the Author

Janet Lee is associate professor and director of the women's studies program at Oregon State University. She is the co-author of Blood Stories: Menarche and the Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary U.S. Society.

Reviews

Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester dedicated their lives not only to the cause of economic justice but, in a deeply committed relationship lasting 45 years, to each other. This labor-reform biography travels from Christianity to Christian socialism and then communism at a time when lesbianism was not acceptable to either doctrine; hence, the pair never did officially "come out." Throughout, we are bombarded with small, thought-provoking asides--which Lee calls her "research diary"--that offer insight into her reasoning. Through Lee (women's studies, Oregon State Univ.), these two women, not currently remembered as monumental activists, are brought to life and given the accolades due them for the ground-breaking social changes they initiated. This work belongs in most women's studies collections.--Kay Meredith Dusheck, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Grace Hutchins (1885-1969) and Anna Rochester (1880-1966), reformers and Communist intellectuals, were a remarkable couple in their time. Both were born to patrician Northern families in the late 19th century, both began their lives as dutiful Christian daughters, but as faith became transformed into action, they became Christian socialists and then members of the Communist Party. Lee asserts rather than explains the transition from church volunteer to socialist, noting simply that between 1905 and 1908 Rochester "became very interested in the teachings of socialism," that she was "taken by" Eugene Debs and read Das Kapital. One wishes for a longer discussion of how the couple met and decided to live together. However, no one will be disappointed with Lee's commitment to historicizing lesbianism; she describes the women's relationship as a romantic friendship in an era when such intense relationships between single women were accepted as natural, especially among social activists. Lee litters the book with boxed asides, presenting quotes from her "research diary" and other self-conscious reflections on the process of writing: at one point, she offers a description of her first encounters with Hutchins and Rochester's papers; at another, she reflects that her subjects were in India during the month her own mother was born. The idea, presumably, is to take the reader behind the scenes into the writing of the book--but more often than not, these asides prove distracting rather than illuminating. Rochester and Hutchins's story is so fascinating, however, that, despite its many pitfalls, this account is worth reading. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

A fascinating story of two lives bound by mutual love and political commitment, Comrades and Partners is a major contribution to the history of the American Left. As a feminist biography, it's a model study and certain to please all readers. -- Mari Jo Buhle, author of Feminism and Its Discontents, Brown University Intensely committed to social justice and each other, Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester embraced a female world of passionate politics located first in women's colleges and evangelical missions and later in Christian socialism and revolutionary communism.Janet Lee presents not only a critically sympathetic portrait of their lives, but also a provocative commentary on the process by which she reconstructed them. Comrades and Partners is stylistically innovative and analytically compelling. -- Nancy A. Hewitt,, Rutgers University Libraries where interest in gender studies and twentieth century social movements is strong will want to add this joint biography of New Englanders Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester. CHOICE More than just choice of subject seperates Lee's book from other biographical work. Throughout she offers glimpses of her 'Research Diary' and other 'scraps' from her experiences researching and writing the book... Some will gain as much from Lee's insights into the process of writing biography as they do from the story she tells. CHOICE Lee succeeds admirably in grounding her subjects' lives in the tumultuous events of the twentieth century and rationalizing thier seemingly contradictory transitions from Christianity to communism. By placing Hutchins, Rochester, and the Communist Party firmly within the larger tradition of twentieth-century social activism, Lee makes a valuable contribution to scholarship on the American Left. Journal of American History Janet Lee's Comrades and Partners uses an experimental approach to relate the fascinating (and far too little known) lives of Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester, who lived in a committed relationship with each other and moved from intense Christianity through Christian socialism to communism. Lee's creative method of presentation tells us their story at the same time that she reminds us that it is just a 'story,' constructed by them, by other observers, by Lee, and by us, the readers. -- Leila J. Rupp, University of California, Santa Barbara Intensely committed to social justice and each other, Grace Hutchins and Anna Rochester embraced a female world of passionate politics located first in women's colleges and evangelical missions and later in Christian socialism and revolutionary communism. Janet Lee presents not only a critically sympathetic portrait of their lives, but also a provocative commentary on the process by which she reconstructed them. Comrades and Partners is stylistically innovative and analytically compelling. -- Nancy A. Hewitt,, Rutgers University Highly readable. Fellowship Magazine

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