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|Parallel biographies: Religious social work in Hungary through the lives of Katalin Gerő and Ilona Földy|
|The paper studies the lives of two Hungarian women who have played an important role in the history of social work in Hungary. This discipline is poorly researched in Hungary and especially lacks biographies of its key figures.
Out of our two chosen women, Katalin Gerő (1853-1944) was the directress of the Jewish Orphanage for Girls in Budapest. Altough the institution was founded and run by the Pest Izrealite Women’s Association, the most important Jewish women’s charity before 1945, and the girls had some religious education, Ms Gerő’s motives were not religious. She and her institution was a clear example of assimilated Budapest Jewish life.
Ilona Földy (1907-1981) was a settelement leader in the Kozma street settlement for poor workers in the outskirts of Budapest. The settlement was initiated by the Social Mission Society in the 1930ies, a modern religious order specialising in social work, but soon the Local Government of Budapest was employing the social workers of Kozma street, including Ms Földy. The Christian reloigious background is clearly visible in this case, altough the involvement of the state enters the picture.
Both institutions were closed down during communism, and their memory faded when porfessional social work was reborn in 1989. The sources for recovering the biographies include literary works, archival documents, and oral history interviews. Besides recovering the lives of our heroines, the paper aims at a gender analysis of their work methodology and choices of life, and attempts to shed light on the changed methodology of social work from the late 19th century to the interwar years. We also focus on the role religion played in this methodology.