Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kathleen M. Boyle

Second Advisor

Fr. Jean-Pierre Bongila

Third Advisor

Sarah J. Noonan


This dissertation study is an historical feminist ethnography with feminist theory analysis. Thematic exploration through qualitative research methodology included women‘s resiliency, power, and leadership, based on a study of Jewish immigrant women of the Progressive Era. I focused on characteristics and qualities women exhibited and drew upon to cope and manage their challenging social conditions of lived experience. Women‘s abilities and strategies included the implementation of a ―both/and‖ model, high level multitasking, relentless and empowering work ethic, entrepreneurial enterprise, and actions endemic to social justice.

Ethnographic research and analysis was the basis I chose for the dissertation study, inductively compiled to provide findings for informing women in other ethnic groups as well as my own. An opportunity arose to learn about women and resources, based on individual and collective strengths of character. Character traits carried them through their daily challenges, and inspired their recurrent state of resiliency, power, and leadership. Course of study placed women in context of their environment and contiguous realities globally and locally.

Themes of resiliency factors were ethnicity, class and culture of the Jewish immigrant group, and skills. I found these factors matched with women‘s character assets of persistence, effectiveness, adaptability, courage, determination, and relentlessness. Resiliency was sum and substance of their survival, and women internalized habits of courage, lifted their voices, and propelled themselves forward in lives filled with empowerment.

Regarding women‘s character asset of power and empowerment, power represented real choices in living life, caring for families, and involving themselves in community. Power influences included freedom, independence, education, and mazel (luck). Women exercised moral power with social justice, dedicated to welfare of their community and improvement of their lives and lives of others, thus shaping lives of future generations.

Women‘s character assets of leadership and effective use of moral power involved substantial leadership talents, skills, and abilities. Capable, powerful women leaders primarily devoted energies to social activism, transformed traditional roles and expectations, and managed practicalities associated with adaptation and assimilation to the American environment and culture.

My intention in this dissertation was to give Jewish immigrant women opportunity to express their voices of power, lament, progress, accomplishment, and victory, in their lived history of the Progressive Era. This dissertation is about women of the past. I approached my research with the intention to educate, inform, and serve women of the present and the future.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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