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ERIC Number: EJ768573
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jun
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 6
ISSN: ISSN-0740-2708
Women in Corrections: Elizabeth Gurney Fry
Craig, Russell L.
Journal of Correctional Education, v57 n2 p141-144 Jun 2006
This article profiles Elizabeth Gurney Fry, an English prison reformer, social reformer and philanthropist. Born on May 21, 1780, into a wealthy and prominent Quaker family in Norwich, England, Elizabeth Gurney was the third of twelve children born to John and Catherine Gurney. As Elizabeth was growing and struggling with the meaning of her life, she had the opportunity to hear William Savery, a wealthy Quaker tanner and minister from Philadelphia, at a speaking engagement. For Elizabeth, this was the start of a religious conversion that would immerse her in Bible reading and the moral enterprise of the Quaker faith. She began visiting the sick and teaching poor children and established a Sunday school in her family home in Earlham Hall. She met Joseph Fry, who, like her, came from a wealthy Quaker family, in 1799 and married him on March 19, 1800. Elizabeth's early aspiration for Christian service was thwarted by the demands of being a housewife and other personal difficulties, for example, her husband's bankruptcy and the subsequent disowning by their Quaker meeting. In 1813, Stephen Grellet, a friend of the Fry family, visited Newgate Prison. Being profoundly shocked at the conditions he observed, he reported his observations to Elizabeth in the hope that she might use her influence to improve the situation. Elizabeth then arranged for the contribution of clothes for the women. She then set out about campaigning for a school for the inmate's children who accompanied them to prison. Eventually, the demands of speaking and working with the poor drained so much of Elizabeth's time that her interest in the prison conditions seemed to be on the back burner for the time being. After giving birth to her last child, Elizabeth again visited Newgate Prison and started to work with the female prisoners to alleviate their squalid conditions. Elizabeth convinced the women that their children needed a school and then, armed with their permission and her status, convinced weary and baffled administrators to allow a school on the prison premises. Her fame led others to consider the prison reform movement for the first time.
Correctional Education Association. 8182 Lark Brown Road Suite 202, Elkridge, MD 21075. Tel: 800-783-1232; Fax: 443-459-3088; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)