A WOMAN WHO DID NOT WAIT: Louise Odencrantz and Her Fight for the Common Good

Nana Rinehart
New Academia Publishing, 2021
218 pages
ISBN 978-1-7359378-0-9 paperback
See an excerpt from the book.

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About the Author

Born in Denmark, Nana Rinehart spent a year in the United States as an exchange student, completed her M.A. at the University of Copenhagen, and earned a Ph.D. in English with a concentration in the Victorian period at the University of Maryland. A long-time Washington, D.C. resident, she has taught literature and composition at Trinity College, American University and Connelly School and administered student exchanges between American and European universities. Her articles on student mobility and cross-cultural communication appeared in professional journals, and she co-authored Rockin’ in Red Square: Critical Approaches to International Education in the Age of Cyberculture (2002) with Walter Gruenzweig. Since 2010, she has focused on research and writing. Her memoir Weaving Worlds Together: Growing up in Denmark, Adopting America, and Calling Both Home appeared in 2014, and The Pastor’s Daughter Takes Charge, an annotated edition of the recollections of Frederikke Odencrantz (Louise’s mother) in 2021.

A WOMAN WHO DID NOT WAIT: Louise Odencrantz and Her Fight for the Common Good

This biography chronicles the life of Louise Odencrantz, who promoted social and industrial reform during the early twentieth-century, applied Progressive Era principles to the private sector during the 1920s, and helped return these ideas and practices to the mainstream during the New Deal. My primary aim is to call attention to the under-reported role of women in transforming the American workplace by inspecting factories, interviewing and negotiating with workers and employers, serving on commissions, directing agencies, lecturing, and publishing books and articles. A related aim is to highlight the contrast between these women’s vision of society and twenty-first-century distrust of institutions and emphasis on increasing shareholder value as the only goal of corporations. Odencrantz insisted that “industry exists for people, not people for industry; and industry can never be considered satisfactory until it serves effectively those who furnish capital and directing ability, those who furnish labor, and those who form the consuming community.” She believed in the common good—not only as a moral value but as a concrete goal to be realized through structures and procedures that recognized the value of individuals and made it possible for them to contribute.