Women’s History Month: Elizabeth Fry

In the early 1800s, the horrific conditions and brutality of the English prison system were taken for granted. Elizabeth Fry was determined to do something about it. She was a Quaker, passionate about reading the Bible herself and making the Bible accessible to those in need. The daughter of a prominent banking family and the wife of a successful tea dealer, she used her influence to visit female prisoners in London’s Newgate Prison—discovering appalling conditions for women and their children.

She set up classes to give women job skills, rallied others to provide clothing, and, at the center of her plan, leading the women in studying the Bible. Until her death at age sixty-five, Elizabeth Fry worked tirelessly for prison reform, fundamentally changing how women prisoners were viewed and treated.

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