Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Mary Gibson

Committee Members

Kathleen McCarthy

Timothy Alborn

Silvana Patriarca

Francesca Bregoli

Subject Categories

European History | Women's History | Women's Studies


Risorgimento, Italy, England, Protestant, Charity, Feminism


“Transnational Nationalists: Cosmopolitan Women, Philanthropy and Italian State-Building, 1850-1890” is a study of Protestant and Jewish transnational reforming women who took advantage of a period of fluidity to act as non-state actors and impact Italian unification and liberation, a process known as the Risorgimento, and subsequent Italian state-building. Inspired by Giuseppe Mazzini’s spiritual brand of romantic cosmopolitan nationalism, as well as Giuseppe Garibaldi’s military campaigns, and believing that women had a god-given duty to provide education, morality, and uplift to oppressed groups, they worked to provide Italy not only with physical unification but also moral regeneration. Through an examination of their published and private works, I analyze how they publicized, fundraised, and conspired for the Risorgimento, and how they later worked to continue its legacy through biographical works, early childhood education, and the campaign against state-regulated prostitution. Through this, I challenge the boundaries between national and transnational, between the charitable and the political, and between public and private.