A Great Rural Sisterhood: Madge Robertson Watt and the ACWW
As the founding president of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW), Madge Robertson Watt (1868–1948) turned imperialism on its head. During the First World War, Watt imported the “made-in-Canada” concept of Women’s Institutes – voluntary associations of rural women – to the British countryside. In the interwar years, she capitalized on the success of the Institutes to help create the ACWW, a global organization of rural women. A feminist imperialist and a liberal internationalist, Watt was central to the establishment of two organizations which remain active around the world today.
In A Great Rural Sisterhood, Linda M. Ambrose uses a wealth of archival materials from both sides of the Atlantic to tell the story of Watt’s remarkable life, from her early years as a Toronto journalist to her retirement and memorialization after the Second World War.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 352 pages
- Illustrations: 24
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
‘Ambrose has put together a rich and detailed portrait of Margaret "Madge" Robertson Watt that highlights her contributions to early twentieth-century rural and international women’s activism…She offers a fascinating portrait of what it meant to build an international movement of women.’
BC Studies issue number 195
"Ambrose’s study will command a broad audience; it is not only a valuable scholarly text about significant themes and topics in Canadian history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but it is also an accessible read that provides a complex portrait of a key figure in the history of women’s movements who had a vision of "a great rural sisterhood" and worked tirelessly to realize that vision."
The Canadian Historical Review Vol 99:2: June 2018
“This book gives an insight into the complex, determined and somewhat egotistical character who established the Women's Institutes in Wales and England. As we celebrate our centenary, the inspiration and commitment Madge Watt had to educating women has been realised through us, and will no doubt continue for many years to come.”
Janice Langley, Chair of the National Federation of Women's Institutes
“Madge Watt’s story is engaging on its own, but it becomes more significant to rural women’s history through her role in spreading the Women’s Institutes in British Columbia and her efforts between the world wars to begin a global organization, the Associated Country Women of the World. A Great Rural Sisterhood features fine research, good writing, and assiduous work in difficult archival sources.”
Terry Crowley, University Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Guelph
“A Great Rural Sisterhood presents much that is new and revealing about a significant figure, Madge Robertson Watt, in Canadian social and women’s history, as well as the history of commemoration and public memory.”
Veronica Strong-Boag, Professor Emerita, Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, University of British Columbia
Author InformationLinda M. Ambrose is a professor in the Department of History at Laurentian University.
Table of contents
Introduction: Framing the Life of Madge Robertson Watt
1. Formative Years: Family Influences and University Life
2. Scripting the New Woman: Writer and Editor
3. Playing Multiple Parts: Family, Society and Sorrow
4. Role Reversal: From Colonial Widow to Imperial War Hero
5. On the World Stage: Forging International Networks
6. Sidelined by War: Waning Influence, Denial, and Death
7. Conclusion: Interpreting the Significance of Madge Watt
Subjects and Courses