Added: November 25, 2006 – Last updated: November 5, 2016


Authors: Karen Dubinsky and Franca Iacovetta

Title: Murder, Womanly Virtue, and Motherhood

Subtitle: The Case of Angelina Napolitano, 1911-1922

Journal: The Canadian Historical Review

Volume: 72

Issue: 4

Year: December 1991

Pages: 505-531

ISSN: 0008-3755 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1710-1093 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: Canadian History



Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

University of Toronto Press (Restricted Access)



Karen Dubinsky, Department of History, Queen's University

Franca Iacovetta, Department of History, University of TorontoWikipedia

Abstract: »In 1911, Angelina Napolitano, an Italian immigrant woman in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, killed her abusive husband. The death sentence she received sparked an international clemency campaign. The social categories of gender, class, and ethnicity, as well as region, help to make sense of the various social meanings that contemporary observers - feminists and nonfeminists, men and women, supporters and detractors - attached to this crime. The various discourses offer a window on prevailing notions regarding womanhood and motherhood, the sexual threat of "foreign men," and the frontier community of northern Ontario. While the presence of a well-organized, international women's movement largely explains the sustained publicity Napolitano received, even among feminist supporters diverse depictions of Napolitano's actions emerged - ranging from the desperate act of a woman gone mad as a result of pregnancy to the courageous deed of a heroine who delivered herself from sexual bondage. In the final analysis, the question of male violence, and of power relations within the family, received scant attention.« (Source: America: History and Life)


  The Deed (p. 507)
  The Trial (p. 512)
  Beyond the Courtroom (p. 515)
  A Violent Heritage or a Simple Foreigner? (p. 517)
  Weighty Reasons for the Exercise of Mercy (p. 520)
  A Dreadful Sacred Duty (p. 521)
  In the Name of Motherhood (p. 524)
  Through the Blood of the Mother (p. 525)
  A Prison Term (p. 527)
  Conclusion (p. 529)

Wikipedia: History of the Americas: History of Canada / Post-Confederation Canada (1867–1914) | Battered woman defense: Angelina Napolitano