Marxists Internet Archive : Vida D. Scudder

Vida Dutton Scudder

Julia Vida Dutton Scudder (December 15, 1861–October 09, 1954), was a American educator, writer, socialist, and welfare activist in the social gospel movement who tried to reconcile the doctrines of Marxism and Christianity.

Vida Scudder was born in Madurai, India, the daughter of Congregationalist Christian missionaries, David Coit Scudder and Harriet Louise Dutton.  Scudder and her mother moved to Boston, USA, after Scudder's father was accidentally drowned in 1862.

Schooled in Boston private schools, Scudder furthered her education at Smith College, where she earned her Bachellor's Degree in 1884.  The following year, she and Clara French were the first American women admitted to the graduate program at Oxford University.  While studying in England Scudder was influenced by the writings of Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, and by the Fabian socialists.

Upon her return to the United States, Scudder joined the faculty at Wellesley College in 1887. In 1892 she was made an associate professor, and a full professor in 1910.

In 1888 Scudder joined the Companions of the Holy Cross, a Episcopal women's group dedicated to intercessionary prayer and social reconciliation. In the same year she also joined the Society of Christian Socialists.

In 1893 she was a delegate to the convention of the Boston Central Labor Union. Later, she helped form the Federal Labor Union, a group of professionals who associated themselves with the American Federation of Labor, and in 1903 she organized the Women's Trade Union League. 

In 1911 Scudder joined the Socialist Party and was a co-founder of the Episcopal Church Socialist League. She attracted notoriety in 1912, when she publicly supported the Lawrence textile strike and spoke at a meeting of striking workers.

During World War I Dutton diverged from the Socialist Party's leaders, including Eugene V. Debs, by supporting the United States' entry into the war. However, in the 1920s she became a pacifist, and in 1923 spoke before the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in Prague.

Scudder retired from Wellesley College in 1927.

She died at her home in Wellesley, Massachussetts, on October 9, 1954.





1912: Socialism and Character

1913: Why Join the Party?

1917: The Church and the Hour: Reflections of a Socialist Churchwoman

1918: Social Teachings of the Christian Year