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Victoire Cappe—for social justice
  1. D F Salerno1,
  2. I L Feitshans2
  1. 1Clinical Communications Scientist, Pfizer Global Research and Development–Ann Arbor Laboratories, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  2. 2Adjunct Faculty, Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Albany, NY, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Deborah F Salerno, 2800 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, MI, USA;

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1886–1927 Country of birth: Belgium


(photo courtesy of Leuven KADOC—Katholiek Documentatie, Katholieke Universiteit)

“…respect for the rights of working women and elevation of their dignity.”

Victoire Cappe taught social justice as a leader in the Christian Democratic labour movement. She was one of the founders of the Catholic school for social work.

In 1907, Cappe founded the Syndicat de l’Aiguille, the first union for needleworkers, dressmakers, and seamstresses.1 She also began study circles (monthly meetings for young girls and women) to overcome ignorance and indifference, and reach autonomy of mind and action.

Facing resistance from most of the clergy, but with the support of Cardinal Mercier, Cappe expanded unions to Brussels, then other Belgian cities. Later, she founded a national Christian professional women’s union.

Although suffering with depression, she wrote a book (La Femme Belge), and edited monthly reviews, including a new journal, Joie et Travail.

Cappe attended the first Congress of the International Labor Organization in 1919 in Washington, DC, and the first international congress for women workers preceeding it. With Maria Baers and Isidore Maus, Cappe created the International Catholic Union of Social Work.

1886–1927 Country of birth: Belgium


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