Arlene Feiner Memorial Research Grant for Women’s Studies-2024

In dedication to the lifetime efforts and achievements of Arlene “Lena” Feiner, the Working Men’s Institute (WMI), in cooperation with the Friends of the Working Men’s Institute (FWMI) has established an annual research grant. This grant has been made possible by the generosity of the Efroymson Family Fund.

About Lena Feiner

Lena FeinerArlene (Lena) Feiner was born on March 23, 1937 in Spring Green, Wisconsin. She spent her childhood living and working on the family farm. Lena was the fifth of nine children in the Feiner family: seven girls and two boys. After graduating from St. Luke’s Catholic School, she attended Alverno College in Milwaukee and then Rosary College (now Dominican University) and earned a Master’s degree in Library Science.

Throughout her professional career, Lena worked in several institutions including the Library of Congress in Washington DC, and in the libraries of the University of Chicago and Loyola University.
While living in Chicago, she often visited New Harmony because of its rich history, where she met and became inspired by Josephine Elliott and Jane Owen. She would finally move to New Harmony in 1997 and fulfill a lifetime dream of owning her own business. She opened The Women’s Institute and Gallery on November 17, 2000.

An active resident of New Harmony, Ms. Feiner dedicated her life and career to the advancement of women’s rights. She was a poet, librarian, feminist, and dear New Harmony friend who shall be remembered for her compassion and advocacy of women.

“We called Lena a feminist on the farm,” recalls Lena’s sister, Phyllis Feiner. “She was always a feminist. She also strongly believed in equality for all. If women are given equal pay and position with men, it would make men even more…gentlemen, because they would have the influence and exposure to women in their arenas.“
Ms. Feiner passed at the age of 83 on November 27, 2020.

About the Grant

Each year, $2,500 will be granted to one recipient who shall conduct research at the Working Men’s Institute and plan and deliver a presentation to coincide with the FWMI Annual Lecture Series. The subject of the lecture should reflect and honor Ms. Feiner’s pursuits by highlighting women’s issues, efforts, and accomplishments. The Grant Committee will choose the individuals receiving the grant. The grant of $2,500 can be used to cover any or all associated expenses involved in researching the chosen topic and developing the subsequent presentation.

Application Procedure

The application procedure will consist of a two-part process. Individuals interested in participating will submit a one-page Summary of the Proposal that includes their interest, chosen topic, and a brief summary of qualifications.
The deadline to submit a Summary of Proposal for the 2023 grant cycle is May 3, 2024

If the Summary of Proposal is accepted, the individual will be invited to complete a Full Proposal. Full proposals will consist of the applicant’s Curriculum Vitae, a detailed Project Proposal, and a proposed budget for funding (please see general guidelines below for fund allocation permissions).


May 3, 2024 – Summary of Proposal due
May 17, 2024 – Invitations for Full Proposals will be sent
May 31, 2024 – Full Proposals due
June 14, 2024- Grant Recipient will be notified


This grant is open to professionals, amateurs, and students of history, gender studies, sociology, and the humanities.

All possible research topics must relate to the history, efforts, accomplishments, or struggles of women.

To stay true to Ms. Feiner’s lifetime goal of women’s recognition and advancement, preference will be given to female scholars/researchers.

General Guidelines

Grants will be awarded on June 14 and the resulting research and presentation must be completed within 12 months.

Grants may be used for (but are not limited to) travel, photocopying, photography, borrowing or access fees, and other research expenses. Other expenses such as child care may be included.

Research must be conducted, either wholly or in part, at the Working Men’s Institute by utilizing its archives, special collections, and/or museum holdings.

For COVID-19: A socially distanced research area will be provided for this self-directed independent project. 

About the WMI’s Collections

The collections primarily span the years 1814 to 1940. They give a concrete expression of the New Harmony community’s utopian history from the Harmonist era to the Owen community era to the Victorian era and into the early 20th century. They reflect the unique cultural, intellectual, and socioeconomic history of the town, but there are also some materials from the wider world during those periods that provide a backdrop or context to the local history.
Some possible women’s issues research areas that would be well supported by document and/or artifact archives:

  • Women’s roles in early frontier science
  • Gender equality in utopian communities
  • Women’s rights in early 19th century America, including education, voting, property ownership, publishing, etc.
  • Women’s role in the abolitionist movement
  • Marie Duclos Fretageot, educator and associate of William Maclure
  • Frances Wright, freethinker and social reformer
  • Constance Owen Fauntleroy Runcie, author and composer
  • The Minerva Society
  • The Women’s Library Club
  • Women of the theatrical Golden Troupe
  • Other theatrical women of New Harmony (e.g. Julia Bennett, Bessie Bennett)
  • Mary Emily Fauntleroy, early community leader, preservation
  • Rosamond Dale Owen, naturalist
  • Caroline Dale Parke Snedeker, author
  • Female librarians of the Working Men’s Institute (e.g. Louise Husband)
  • Daughters of Rebekah (associated with Odd Fellows)

Arlene Feiner Memorial Research Grant Applicant

Please fill out the information below and attach a one-page Summary of Proposal that includes their interest, chosen topic and a brief summary of qualification as a PDF or Word Document.

Efroymson Family

This grant has been made possible by the generosity of the Efroymson Family Fund.