Agency for Western Gals is a collection of essays that explore the complex ways that women and young girls construct all their lives across Europe. It employs a range of methodological solutions and new archival material to investigate the interplay between gender, society and the ways that girls manage their daily experiences The chapters in this volume look at women’s encounters from various cultural, societal and financial perspectives: as mothers and wives; as philanthropists; as writers and artists; and as activists. Despite the vastly different source materials, some key themes unite the contributions as a whole. One is the centrality of a notion of female agency. The authors employ micro-studies of individual cases to reveal how women, despite their legal disabilities because of their gender, could assert considerable agency in the pursuit of their interests.

The content in this amount emphasize how crucial it is to take female into account when describing Europe’s premature integration processes. Maria Pia Di Nonno, for instance, looks at how the people in Malta’s Common Assembly and the forerunner of the European Parliament deliberately influenced the inclusion of Europe. In Bernard Capp’s section on Agnes Beaumont, the subject herself wrote a language to demonstrate how disobeying her father was an act of bureau in and of itself.

A final contribution discusses how state socialist children’s organizations in Eastern Europe served as both agents on behalf of women and also prevented their agency. A closer examination of the structures and political contexts in which these established organizations operated reveals a more nuanced image, and the author challenges revisionist feminist scholars’ assertions that they were «agents on behalf of women.»