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The study of philanthropy has transcended the structure of traditional disciplines, often involving non-historians in historical analysis. This book presents professional historians addressing the dominant issues and theories offered to explain the history of American philanthropy and its role in American society. The essays develop and enlighten the major themes proposed by the book's editors, in some instances taking issue with each other in the process. The overarching premise is that philanthropic activity in America has its roots in the desires of individuals to impose their visions of societal ideals or conceptions of truth upon their society. To do so, they have organised in groups, frequently defining themselves and their group's role in society in the process.
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