Mary Hansen

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Mary Hansen was a Danish-American Anarchist who was active in Philadelphia in the 1890s and 1900s. She was a contributor to Free Society, a member of the Philadelphia Social Science Club, and the wrote the first draft of the Philadelphia Anarchists' pamphlet "A Catechism of Anarchy."





Free Society (1902)

"Notes," in Free Society IX.13 (March 30, 1902):

Comrade Mary Hansen of Philadelphia, to whom some have attributed the authorship of "A Catechism of Anarchy", requests us to state that it is a Communistic production, belonging to the Anarchists of the Social Science Club. She wrote the original draft of it, and was then gone over by members of the club, and discussed, and revised and altered. The name of the club was not inserted on the leaflet for the reason that all the members of the club are not Anarchists.

Candace Falk (2008), Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years, Volume 2: Making Speech Free: 1902-1909

From Candace Falk (2008), "Directory of Organizations," in Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years, Volume 2: Making Speech Free: 1902-1909, University of Illinois Press. 564:

[Single Tax.] . . . The first and largest single-tax colony, in Fairhope, Alabama, was first inhabited by colonists in 1894-1895 and incorporated as a municipality in 1908. It lasted until 1954. Fairhope residents attempted to shift the incidence of some state and local taxes from labor and capital to land, but were unable to fully implement the single-tax doctrine. Another colony, in Arden in Delaware, was founded in 1900 by the sculptor G. Frank Stephens and the architect Will Price. The novelist Upton Sinclair and the anarchists George Brown and Mary Hansen were Arden residents.

From Candace Falk (2008), "Directory of Organizations," in Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years, Volume 2: Making Speech Free: 1902-1909, University of Illinois Press. 564-565:

Social Science Clubs. "Social Science" was a generic term used to describe any study of social issues. From around the beginning of the twentieth century, the term would be used by anarchists to reinterpret and study social issues from an anarchist perspective. Many early Social Science clubs had strong anarchist ties and influences without strictly defining themselves as anarchist clubs, and all seemed dedicated to open and free discussion. . . . An anarchist reading group called the Social Science Club began in Philadelphia in 1901, started by Voltairine de Cleyre, and modeled after a reading group that she and Dyer D. Lum had belonged to in the early 1890s. In an announcement in Free Society in 1900 she wrote, "Let us take up the work as quiet students, not as disputatious wrangles. . . let us saturate ourselves with the facts concerning anarchistic tendencies in society; then we may hope to convert others" (Free Society, 30 September 1900). Its first members, including George Brown, Mary Hansen, Pearle McLeod, and Natasha Notkin, met every Sunday evening. The club sponsored lectures and published Mary Hansen's A Catechism of Anarchy (1902). Hansen suggested in Free Society that although she had written the first draft, the essay was in fact a group effort of the Social Science Club; she explained that the club was not named as author because its members were not uniformly self-identified anarchists. . . .

Chris Chrass

From Chris Crass, "Organizing for Radical Social Change: Voltairine de Cleyre and anarcha-feminism":

In Philadelphia Voltairine spent much of her time teaching and she continued to write and lecture frequently. In Philadelphia she helped organize the lecture series of the Ladies' Liberal League, which was a free thought organization that she helped found in 1892. The League featured lectures on sex, prohibition, crime, socialism and anarchism. She also helped form the Social Science Club, an anarchist reading and discussion group. She wrote frequently for the most prominent anarchist and free thought newspapers and magazines, and organized open-air meetings that attracted hundreds to hear speeches by anarchists and radical unionists from around the country. She arranged meetings, collected funds for propaganda, distributed literature, and dozens of other tasks necessary to maintain and build a movement. In 1905 Voltairine and several friends started the Radical Library, which, as she explained, was to provide radical literature to workers for little pay and maintain hours that allowed working people access. Much of this work was done alongside other women active in the Philadelphia anarchist movement - most notably, Natasha Notkin, Perle McLeod and her close friend Mary Hansen.

Robert Helms (2006)

From Robert Helms (2006), "Doctors and Druggists Among the Early Philadelphia Anarchists,"

Although only one small newspaper sketch of Notkin’s face survives, there are many reports of her, all through the years from around 1890 until 1917. As a member of the Knights of Liberty, she took part in organizing the Yom Kippur Balls, a short-lived effort to draw working-class Jews away from religion by arranging social events during the high holidays. When two of her comrades stood trial for incitement to riot in 1891 after a meeting was raided on the night before one of the balls, Natasha was called as a witness for the defense. Some four decades later, her court appearance was recalled by a comrade. She was wearing her hair bobbed, then the habit of dissident Russian women, and she treated the prosecutor with contempt.
"Are you a nihilist?" He asked.
"I don’t know what that means," she replied.
Both before and after opening a drug store with Joffe in 1907, Notkin was the Philadelphia distributor of the anarchist papers Free Society and Mother Earth. In 1892, Natasha had co-founded the Ladies' Liberal League (LLL) along with Perle McLeod, a Scottish-born anarchist who may have received training as a nurse in later years, Mary Hansen, who originally came from Denmark, and Voltairine de Cleyre.
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