chapter  6
16 Pages

Friendless, fallen, and inebriate women: The transformations

By the middle of the nineteenth century the idea of incarcerating women for sexual offences, either through formal channels which landed them in state prisons or through informal channels which led them to magdalene homes, could no longer be considered new. The general philosophy of early magdalene asylums in Scotland and England did not vary significantly from institution to institution, but by the middle of the century the reform strategies they used to achieve these ends began to shift. Critics of rescue work emerged and either developed new institutions and societies or struggled to gain control over older ones. They argued that rescue workers had to do more than merely provide refuges. They incorporated the penitentiary principle within their wider aims as they adopted a more aggressive style and missionary methods. New organizations carried rescue work beyond the provision of refuges for repenting women and career training. They extended their activities to seeking out and saving the 'fallen'. 1 Building on chapter four which examined the 'ideas' or discourses of Scottish moral reformers, the purpose of this chapter is to examine their 'activities'. The first section looks at contemporary criticisms of magdalene homes in general. The next section identifies some of the new institutions that opened in Scotland.