ISBN: 0 946488 10 X
- Women in the Preindustrial United States
- The Industrial Revolution
- Ante-Bellum Reform Movements
- The Changing Nature of Women’s Education and Employment
- The Woman Movement
- Guide to Further Reading
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Until the 1960s and 1970s, analysts of American life and culture were strangely silent as to how the grand forces of the age affected women and how women had an impact upon their society. History had been conceived of as the study of elites, of the men who governed, of laws, battles, and treaties, events which while they affected women were mostly not of them or by them. There is an ongoing historical debate over the extent to which writing women back into history implies, as Berenice A. Carroll suggested, “not only a new history of women but also a new history.” What does the inclusion of women in the historical record mean, for example, to the traditional periodisation of history, a question raised by Gerda Lerner in 1975. Did events affect women in the same way as men or have the same meaning for them?
There has been a proliferation, an explosion, in the number of subjects about which historians research and write. Traditional history has been broadened by the inclusion of questions of class, race, gender, ethnicity, and place. Carl Degler, himself a perceptive analyst of gender and family relations, described this “fragmentation” and “splintering” of historical discourse, and proposed that the theme of “national identity” should become the focus of American History. But as Joan Wallach Scott points out history consists of many irreconcilable stories. “Any master narrative—the single story of the rise of American democracy—or Western civilisation—is shown to be not only incomplete but impossible of completion in the terms it has been written. For those master narratives have been based on the forcible exclusion of Others’ stories.”
The past is no more homogeneous than the present. As with the present, it is vastly complicated and rewriting women or any excluded group back into the historical narrative is a complex exercise, particularly when the nuances and interrelationships between groups are considered. Women are a sex, but they belong to different class, ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious groups. Thus writing women back into the historical discourse entails reconsidering the place of many groups simultaneously, itself an intricate task, and exploring the conflicts between those groups. While no short history can hope to do justice to what Scott termed “the Others’ stories,” this pamphlet will outline the major economic, social, and political shifts, the images with which women were portrayed and the materials they created, in order to explore the changing nature of women’s roles in the era between women’s entrance into the labour force and their acquisition of the vote.
The interplay of social and economic forces led to a number of disjunctures in women’s lives in the nineteenth century, sweeping away the continuity and similarity in the lives of preindustrial married and unmarried women. Younger women moved from household care tasks within their parents’ homes, where they worked with their mothers producing goods within the home and caring for younger siblings, to their husband’s homes after marriage. As children they were part of one family enterprise, as adults another. But whether single or married, women engaged upon household manufacture and productive labour. Industrialisation broke the similarity between married and single women’s activities as young women undertook,jobs for wages outside the home, while most married women (slaves excepted) stayed at home, devoting themselves to family and childcare. They produced a narrower range of goods and bought more. Industrialisation thus resulted in significant discontinuities in the lives of women based upon their marital status although it had no such effect upon men.
Nancy Cott has suggested that in the early national period women’s political and legal disadvantages became more conspicuous as suffrage evolved from the province of the elite (and in which women occasionally shared) to universal, white manhood suffrage from which women, regardless of wealth, were excluded by their sex. The egalitarianism of the Age ofJackson highlighted female exclusion from politics, the professions, and advanced education. It also underscored married women’s legal disabilities with regards to property.
Women’s economic and social roles altered as more goods were manufactured outside the home, giving mothers more time to devote to their children. There was also a decrease in the amount of work done by older daughters within the home as the tasks they previously helped their mothers perform such as carding wool, spinning, and weaving became factory operations. These young women became the first factory workers. Many became involved in the waves of religious enthusiasm which swept over the United States during the Second Great Awakening (1790-1840). This religious revival led to a surge in devotion among women and to women’s taking a more public role in religious and charitable affairs. Women as well as men viewed these new movements as a contentious departure from accepted behaviour patterns which might upset the gendered basis of social interaction.
It is against a background of industrialisation and religious enthusiasm that many American historians would set the marked increase in women’s public participation in the nineteenth century and the growing tension between women’s private and public activities. Individualism flourished in the new economic order, but women were seen not as individuals in the market place, but as members of the family, as wives and mothers. The emphasisis on individual moral responsibility had many manifestations in the ante-bellum era including the temperance movement and the anti-slavery crusade. Women’s growing restlessness with their limited roles led a small minority to articulate a public role for women in a woman’s rights movement from the 1840s onwards. Their participation in organized religion, temperance or abolitionism challenged the established order, yet it reflected the special contributions they believed they could make as women.
New concepts of womanhood emerged in an attempt to adjust social convention and reality. As men turned to commerce, women shouldered the burden of educating the very young into the new political morality and providing a suitable environment in which republican values could flourish. The Republican Mother, a legacy of the American Revolution, became responsible for the inculcation of civic morality. As Linda Kerber describes it, Republican Motherhood integrated political values into domestic life, while the education of the young filled some of the time previously occupied by domestic manufactures.
Barbara Welter labelled the early nineteenth century emphasis on domesticity and women’s responsibility for domestic and parental responsibility “the Cult of True Womanhood.” As enunciated in women’s magazines and religious tracts, the Cult of True Womanhood viewed women as hostages in the home to provide stability in a rapidly changing world. The pious, pure, submissive, and domestic woman built a private world to which men could return from their day’s labours in the countinghouse secure in the knowledge that religion, the home, and the children were being looked after. The world outside the home became a male preserve, while the home became the circumscribed sphere in which women cared for their families, educated their children (in republican virtues), and made their influence felt indirectly.
The dominant paradigm in the historical analysis of women’s social and political activities has been that of separate spheres. Women of all political persuasions believed in the unique female responsibility for domestic affairs and sought to protect those interests in society generally. According to Ellen DuBois, reformers believed domestic activities were as naturally feminine as childbirth, but should not prevent female political participation. One of the crucial issues of the nineteenth century was the extent to which women should express their opinions outside the family circle or before mixed audiences.
Increasingly women were associated with motherhood and domesticity, rather than the production of commodities within the home. Although birth rates fell in the nineteenth century, motherhood became a full time occupation for women, rather than one task amongst many for both parents. Women remained largely outside political life, but enjoyed wider access to education and developed their own institutions and a distinctive female discourse. Over the course of the century many women used the private sphere to which they had been relegated as a springboard to public participation in a variety of voluntary and church associations, moving in ever-widening circles which touched upon the political and social concerns of the day. They accepted women’s responsibility for domestic concerns and made those concerns the cornerstone of their public activities. They sought a public voice in order to protect the home. Motherhood became central to women’s endeavours and provided the vocabulary and conceptual framework for their efforts.
In 1820, women had no public voice and rarely had,jobs. They could not, if married, exercise sole control over their property. By 1920, women formed an important part of the Progressive movement, received the vote, had property rights and worked in unprecedented numbers in a variety of employments. Yet it would be a mistake, I think, to see in these changes a Whiggish view of history as progress. The content of women’s lives diversified in these hundred years, but the extent to which women’s fundamental place in society altered is open to question. Did their lives become any less controlled by gender, that is by social conventions about women’s roles? Did women gain meaningful control over their own behaviour and destinies in this century? To what extent did the sharp divisions between public and private spheres for women break down in this era? And to what extent did women themselves wish to see their roles change or support altered relations between the sexes?
The new nation was founded on the premises that “all men are created equal”, but this equality extended neither to women, blacks, nor Native Americans. The American Revolution had not been a revolution for women although Abigail Adams requested that her husband John’s new code of laws “would remember the ladies and be more generous and favourable to them than were your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of husbands. Remember all men would be tyrants if they could.” John Adams’ response indicated the limits of rebellion. “As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh . . . Depend upon it, we know better than to repeal our Masculine systems.” The new republic thus, did not change women’s political status, although it may have established the terms of the debate upon which women later were to incorporate themselves into the polity.
Mary Beth Norton argues persuasively that the Revolution itself provided women with a vocabulary which was to frame their arguments for political rights in the mid-nineteenth century. Nevertheless, there is little evidence that women were conscious of themselves as a group in this era. Elaine F. Crane describes the Revolution as having little meaning for women as women. To the extent that they participated in the events of the era. they did so as members of their families and communities, not as members of their sex.
Yet modifications in women’s social and economic roles paralleled those of men’s and the nation’s as a whole, even if women’s political status lagged behind men’s. During this century the United States developed from a rural, agricultural nation to an urban, industrial one, and family sizes began to decline. In 1820 most people still lived and worked on farms or in small workshops where the production of goods and daily family life blended together. This meant that family members were drawn into the family enterprise and sustenance at an early age, with tasks allocated by gender. Boys from a rather young age worked with their fathers on the land or in craft manufacturing, providing a major source of labour particularly on farms and in smaller enterprises. Girls helped their mothers, but few had jobs outside the domestic sphere. Before the coming of the factories, if girls were employed at all, they hired out as “help” in other women’s households, assisting with the dairying, spinning, weaving, sewing, and childcare.
Women made important contributions to the family’s survival through their reproductive and productive endeavours, although historians debate both the social significance of those economic contributions and the extent to which they participated in their families’ economic activities. Women bore and raised the children who were an important source of labour for family farms and enterprises. In the early American economy women in their own homes did all the spinning, weaving, knitting and sewing, typically making all the clothes worn by the family. They also helped in the cobbling of shoes. They grew and processed the family’s food, baked bread and cake, pickled fruits, vegetables, and meats with either store bought or homemade vinegar, made candles, soap, butter, and cheese. Women looked after the chickens and collected the eggs. Men butchered large animals, but women sorted out the remains, cleaned the entrails for sausage casing, rendered the lard, prepared the meat, made headcheese, and smoked or salted any meat which would not be used immediately.
After finishing the winter butchering a Minnesota farmwife commented “it is a good job over with.” Suzanne Lebsock, writing of the women of Petersburg, Virginia, suggests that “for the majority of housewives, women who had no slave help or very little, the satisfaction derived from productive tasks was offset, even cancelled by the tremendous energy and time they exacted; all too often the tasks melted into a blur of drudgery.” One nineteenth century household advice manual underscored the toil inherent in housekeeping when it opined that “there is no romance or poetry in making boiled soap, only patient hard work.” Thus, housework and household manufacturing can be seen either as rewarding or debilitating, depending upon the author’s point of view. Regardless, these activities were necessary for the household’s survival and prosperity.
Although the Homestead Act of 1862 made it possible for women household heads to acquire land under its provisions, most women who moved to the western frontier in the nineteenth century journeyed with their families. The initial venturers to the ever-weltering frontier were men, but they were quickly joined by wives and daughters and some women who sought opportunities for themselves. It has been suggested that women were reluctant pioneers who did not wish to leave the comforts of eastern civilisation, yet many contemporary diaries imply that women as well as men welcomed the challenge and opportunities of the unsettled areas. For women missionaries the frontier represented an opportunity to put their faith into practice, while many women married to army personnel followed their husbands’ postings west. Eveline M. Alexander’s husband served in the Third Calvary in the Southwest in the 1860s. It saddened her to leave her family back east, but she used her time in the west to found Sunday schools, raise funds to support mission churches, and make notes upon the western scene.
The novels of Willa Cather, among other western authors, depict women’s lives in the frontier farming regions, their adaptation to the natural environment, and their contributions to their families and communities. My Antonia, O Pioneers!, and The Song of the Lark all have strong heroines of immigrant stock who succeed even when they move beyond the conventional boundaries of women’s roles. Westering women and the writers who captured their experience saw the new continent as a land to be adapted to rather than conquered.
Frontier women bore a wide range of responsibilities. The women of the wagon trains made substantial preparations for the journey. They wove the cloth top for the wagon, prepared food, medicines and clothing for the trip and managed the cooking and cleaning en route. Once they arrived at their destinations, women frequently helped to build their new homes, break the soil, and harvest the crops. Their own cash crops, butter, eggs, or lard, could be vital to sustaining their families in the early days. As agriculture became more. mechanised and specialised women’s physical work on the land decreased, but they could still be counted on as an auxiliary labour force in case of emergencies. They fed the harvest crews in the wheat belt and churned much of the butter on dairy farms. Commercial agriculture marginalised women’s economic contributions among white westerners by the end of the century. Native American women and black southern women still constituted a large share of the agricultural labour force.
Some of the work done by farm and preindustrial women blended beauty with functionality. The quilts made by rural women well into the nineteenth century combined necessity with an opportunity for self-expression. Women told stories, remembered important events, and brought beauty into their workaday lives in these bits of cloth, sewn into elaborate arrangements. Complex designs such as the Star and Tree of Life were pieced together from tiny scraps of material then sewn with complicated stitchery patterns onto backing fabric. (wilting bees provided an opportunity for sociability as well as making light work of this timeconsuming operation. Frances Trollope in Domestic Manners of the Americans wrote that “the ladies of the Union are great workers, and, among other enterprises of ingenious industry, they frequently fabricate patchwork quilts. When the external composition of one of these is completed, it is usual to call together their neighbours and friends to witness, and assist at the quilting, which is the completion of this elaborate work. These assemblings are called “quilting frolics,” and they are always solemnised with much good cheer and festivity.” Groups of women made Friendship Quilts, where each woman contributed several squares of her own composition.
The quilts frequently followed established designs, but could incorporate current events. The buff and blue of Washington’s ragtag army uniforms was emulated by Revolutionary quilters in bedquilts of homedyed indigo on one side and saffron yellow on the other. Patriotic quitters even changed the name of some of their patterns to indicate their independence from the Mother Country. Queen Charlotte’s Crown became Indian Spring; Burgoyne Surrounded commemorated the general’s defeat; and the Tea Leaf celebrated the famous affair in Boston’s harbour. Despite having no formal say in the affairs of the new nation, women’s crafts indicated their awareness of the political issues of their day. Women took sides in them, using domestic art to express their feelings.
Old Tippacanoe, Whig Rose Quilt, Lincoln’s Platform, and Union Star memorialised political opinions. Westward expansion of settlement across the continent and beyond gave rise to regional variations of the star pattern in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, California, Iowa, and Kansas. Many quilts depicted the natural environment and its inhabitants. Goose Tracks, Flying Geese, Peony, Bear’s Tracks, Cactus Flower, Sweet Gum Leaf, Blazing Star, Delectable Mountains, Blazing Sun, Sunflower and Kansas Sunflower celebrated women’s surroundings as they joined the migration and settled in new homes. The Rocky Road to Kansas showed how women felt about the trek while Log Cabin was a coloured representation of their early dwellings. Some quilters used designs from the man’s world, suggesting it was more familiar to them than has been thought. Mill Wheel, Chips and Whetstone, and Circular Saw represented in scraps of cloth the tools men used and women observed. Slave quilt makers sometimes incorporated African motifs as well as scenes from rural life.
The industrial revolution had a profound effect on the work performed by women, its location and content. It transformed how and where most items were made. When production moved into the factories, work and home became sharply differentiated. Work now meant employment outside the home and paid wage labour, while the household itself gradually turned into a place of consumption. Married women became the agents who purchased goods and services, while young women became the first industrial labour force in the United States. The inhospitable New England geography encouraged early diversification away from agriculture. Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, stated in his Report on Manufactures that the farmer would benefit “from the increased industry of his wife and daughters” if they were employed in the nascent textile industry. Cotton mills proliferated in the region north of Boston in the decades following the War of 1812. Women comprised 85 and 95 per cent of the operatives of some of these mills in the 1820s.
The use of machinery and the shift from home to factory-based manufacturing nearly eliminated married white women as producers of goods and meant that they could not combine domestic and moneyearriing activities. In the shoe industry, for example, the introduction of the sewing machine and the movement of production into factories meant married women no longer stitched uppers to soles in between other chores. Their displacement by factory workers made them dependent upon their husbands for support and reinforced the growing assumption that married women’s place was in the home, although the rest of the world moved into workplaces outside it. Mary Blewett’s study of the shoemaking industry in New England explores the relationship between married women outworkers who bound shoes in their kitchens and single factory workers who undertook the same task in mechanised factories. She found that their interests were not the same. The female homeworkers, most of them married to shoemakers, identified with their husband’s interests rather than those of the women in the factories. Blewett concludes that “the patriarchal ideology of artisan culture and the sex structuring of labouring in the New England shoe industry worked together to prevent women workers from contributing to the most vital tradition of collective protest among the workers of early nineteenth-century New England.”
Many of the operatives in the textile mills and shoe factories were children or but a few years older. Some, like Lucy Larcom, went into the mills because their families could not make ends meet otherwise. Her newly widowed mother moved to Lowell in order to run a boarding house for mill-girls. At the age of eleven Lucy started as a bobbin doffer on the spinning frames, resolving to earn enough money to get sufficient education to become a teacher. Like many of her contemporaries she alternated stints at work (in the mills or teaching) with periods of study. Larcom’s poverty set her apart from her contemporaries in the mills, most of whose families were of average wealth. But, like Larcom, the first generation of textile workers desired independence, the stimulation of an urban setting, and wages which were higher than other female employments such as domestic service.
Women and men enjoyed different prospects in the mills. Men’s wages reflected the rates they were paid elsewhere, but women’s alternative employments paid poorly. Their jobs were part of a family economy and not recompensed directly (as in shoemaking), or were regarded as an extension of women’s natural role and training for mother—and wife-hood (as in domestic service.) Servants lived in their employers’ households, with room and board forming part of their remuneration, which lowered their cash wages and depressed women’s wages generally.
Conditions in the mills deteriorated following the depression of 1837 as employers speeded up the machines and assigned each worker more of them to tend. Women protested against the deterioration in working conditions, lowered piece rates, and long hours of increasingly intensive labour in the 1830s and 1840s, but to little avail. Militant action on the part of mill workers failed for a complicated set of reasons. Most female operatives believed they were only temporarily in the labour force; 85 per cent of the Lowell operatives married after they left the mills. Others questioned whether women should express themselves in public, believing in a traditional interpretation of women’s roles. As the ethnic composition of the mills diversified following the Irish Potato Famine, Labour organizations also had to transcend ethnic and religious boundaries.
Carole Turbin found that older women workers and widowed women generally had more success organising, both because they were relatively independent of men and because they were more experienced as workers. Female labour activists tended to be either married women (a small minority of the female workforce), widowed, or selfsupporting women. She also found that women were more successful in their organising efforts where they did not compete with men for jobs. Cities such as Troy, New York which contained completely separate labour markets for women and men (the shirt collar and iron industries, respectively) were hotbeds of labour activism, partially because families could depend upon women’s earnings when the iron industry struck and upon men’s when unrest hit the collar workers.
Even though women comprised a significant portion of the industrial labour force in the decades before the Civil War, most women workers toiled in other women’s kitchens or in the cotton fields. The single largest group of women working on the land were black slaves in the ante-bellum south. There was little sexual differentiation in the field work done by slaves. One former slave reminisced that “I had to do everythin’ dey was to do on de outside. Work in de field, chop wood, hoe corn, till sometime I feels like my back surely break. I done everythin’ ‘cept split rails. I never split no rails.” Others told similar tales. “I done ever thing on a farm what a man done ‘cept cut wheat.” Sojourner Truth described women’s lives under slavery poignantly and passionately when she challenged a Woman’s Rights convention in Akron, Ohio in 1851 to “look at my arm. I have ploughed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me. And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as any man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well. And ain’t I a woman? I have borne children and seen them sold into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain’t I a woman?” The lot of Truth and other slave women was one of unremitting toil at others’ command.
Most enslaved women were field hands or domestics, but a few specialised in spinning, dyeing, weaving and sewing, nursing and midwifery. While there were a number of skilled positions available to black men on the plantations including those of slave driver, carpenter, cooper, mason, and smith; slave women rarely acquired positions of authority. Black women had domestic and family duties in addition to being workhorses in the field and, frequently, sexual objects for their masters.
White women also had domestic and family duties, typically made their own and their slaves’ clothing, nursed the plantation ailing, provided food and housing, and looked after the physical and spiritual needs of both their white and black families. Slavery extended household management, the number of animals to be slaughtered and food to be grown and preserved against the winter, but it did not give the plantation mistress power. The patriarchal plantation society reserved that for white men.
The issue of slavery illuminates the complexity of racial and gender interactions. As Elizabeth Fox-Genovese points out, southern slaveholding women accepted their position of dependence within the household more readily than did slave women. The patriarchal plantation system may have oppressed white women to some extent, but they benefited from slavery. Hence race divided black and white women far more than their common sex united them. White women complained about specific features of slavery, but did not identify a common, gender-based oppression with slave women. Indeed, they frequently resented both their female slaves and their unfaithful husbands. Mary Boykin Chesnut’s diaries suggest the extent to which she benefited from slavery as the wife of a wealthy plantation owner. She described southern society as male dominated and condemned the prevailing racial/sexual ethos which permitted slave owners to take slave women as concubines. Nevertheless she did not advocate equality between the black and white women of her society. Affluent, educated southern white women, according to Fox-Genovese, defended their class privileges and superiority over lower-class whites as well as black women. For these groups of women, class and race divided them more than gender united them.
After emancipation, domestic service became the province of blacks and immigrants as native born white women moved into the factories and (after the Civil War) shops and offices. Farm women continued to work along side their hired help, but urban women detailed the most arduous tasks to them, while reserving the more pleasant aspects of house and childcare for themselves. As the century wore on, more items could be purchased and fewer had to be fabricated at home. Nevertheless, domestic servants endured long hours of hard work as they fed the fires with coal or wood, carried and heated water, removed human wastes, washed, ironed, cooked, and baked. Domestic service was a residual occupation into which women went if they could find no other work.
Throughout the nineteenth century women fought for the right to an education and to occupations which enabled them to use their literacy. A few women using religious justification echoed Abigail Adams’ appeal to improve women’s situation. Writing under the pen name of “Constantia”, Judith Sargent Murray published an essay entitled “Equality of the Sexes” in 1790. She asked whether it was reasonable “that a candidate for immortality, for the joys of heaven, an intelligent being, who is to spend an eternity in contemplating the works of Deity, should at present be so degraded, as to be allowed no other ideas than those which are suggested by the mechanisms of a pudding or the sewing [ofJ the seams of a garment?” Constantia recognised and railed against the limited educational opportunities for women in her native New England, as did Abigail Adams. By the time of the Revolution only 50 per cent of all New England women could sign their names, although 80 per cent of men had achieved this modest token of literacy. 
Linda Kerber dates the growth in educational opportunities to the period between 1790 and 1830 when political and economic needs coincided. At that time it was argued that since mothers were the educators of young children, the interests of the Republic were best served by women who could educate their children in the rudiments of literacy as well as moral values and republican virtues. As the economy shifted from subsistence agriculture to an industrial and commercial base the nation needed a literate population. Education became a mass rather than elite requirement, for females as well as males, even though the justifications for educating the sexes and the expected outcomes were different.
Girls attended dame schools and state funded schools at this time, but had no access to the academies and colleges which offered advanced education to boys. Lucy Larcom’s first school was kept by a neighbour whom everybody called “Aunt Hannah”. It took in all the children from her village, no matter how young they were, provided they could walk and talk and were considered capable of learning their letters. The mothers of large families used school as a means of keeping their little ones out of mischief while they attended their domestic duties. Little Lucy went off to school at the age of two. Aunt Hannah used her kitchen or her sitting room for a schoolroom, as best suited her convenience, combining the education of the young’ with her own domestic chores. Boys then went on to academies, but girls’ formal education ended at ten or twelve.
Spurred in part by the Second Great Awakening which emphasised woman’s importance as wife, mother, and teacher, academies for young women proliferated in the early nineteenth century, especially in the northeast. Benjamin Rush opened his Young Ladies Academy in Philadelphia in 1787 for the express purpose of educating girls to be republican mothers able to impart the rudiments of learning and patriotism to their own children. Four years later, Sarah Pierce stressed that females as well as males needed “the discipline of the mind.” Emma Willard’s Troy Seminary, opened in 1821, followed a liberal arts curriculum similar to that of men’s colleges. In the next few years Catherine Beecher, Mary Lyon, Zilpah Grant, Almira Phelps and countless others opened educational institutions for women, training and inspiring thousands of pupils. Some of these institutions still survive, for example Mary Lyon’s Mount Holyoke College. Their importance was fourfold: they educated women, provided teacher training at a time when the nation’s educational needs expanded rapidly, inspired belief in the ability of women to achieve, and employed women in a professional capacity.
In the 1830s and 1840s, Catherine Beecher advocated moral education for women in order that they might have hegemony in the home. Women’s education was not an end in itself but a service to their families. Beecher believed that “the proper education of a man decides the welfare of an individual; but educate a woman, and the interests of a whole family are secured.” Women gained power within their home but at the expense of participation in the world outside it. Beecher’s very successful Treatise on Domestic Economy reconciled women’s civil inequality with men by eulogizing women’s domestic role. At the same time it provided sound advice on home management, diet, meal preparation, household equipment and kitchen organisation. Although the justification for the expansion of education was essentially conservative (service to family), the education itself expanded women’s horizons, for the knowledge required for household management, childrearing, and companionship could be quite wide-ranging.
Few women’s academies received public funds. This meant that their pupils either depended upon indulgent and affluent parents or worked and attended school alternately, as had many of the first generation of mill workers. Lucy Stone, the abolitionist, taught school in order to earn her tuition at Oberlin College (the first coeducational institution of higher learning in the United States.) Her father paid for all of her brothers’ schooling, but made her pay first for her own school books and then for her own higher education. Other women encountered opposition from educational establishments who refused to admit them. Elizabeth Blackwell was rejected by a number of medical schools in her quest to become a doctor, matriculating at Geneva College in 1847 when the students there voted to admit her. Blackwell had the support of her family in her application to medical colleges, but little financial backing. She taught school in order to accumulate her tuition fees. Despite her unconventional goal, gender circumscribed her behaviour. Blackwell refused to walk in her own graduation procession because she considered it unladylike. Because no hospital would hire her she set up her own practice in an immigrant quarter of the city, founding the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857.
Women encountered less resistance in their desire to become nurses. Nursing began its slow trek towards professionalisation and professional recognition in the second half of the nineteenth century. Both the Civil War shortage of male nurses and the proliferation of hospitals (with their need for inexpensive labour) led to an increase in the number of female nurses. With daughters needed less at home, young women were available for employment. Nursing provided a safe way for rural women to move to the city, since hospitals provided both a job and living accommodation. As with so many nineteenth century women’s occupations, the profession of nursing reflected the transposition of a domestic task into the labour force. Previously nursing had been a private rather than a public concern which women undertook as part of their caring for family or neighbours. Women also had primary responsibility for the safe delivery of babies. Until their virtual ouster by physicians at the beginning of the twentieth century, midwives brought babies into the world, relying upon training received from older midwives rather than schooling.
The experience of nursing during the Civil War led middle and upper class reformers to found hospital affiliated training schools following the example set by English nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. The Nightingale model emphasized character development and rigid discipline. The work performed by nurses and doctors was kept completely separate. The nurses had their own hierarchy but deferred to doctors. They were expected to stand up when a doctor entered the room, to carry out orders faithfully, and provide a cheap labour force for the hospitals which trained them. They achieved autonomy within their own ranks, but always remained subservient to doctors and hospital boards.
At the turn of the century student nurses received nominal wages, room, and board as remuneration for working an 8 hour day and attending classes for four hours a day. They lived in hospital residences, with a 10 p.m. curfew. They cleaned the wards to withstand Matron’s white glove inspections, served meals, and dispensed medicine. The prejudices of the training schools were such that almost all nurses were white, the majority native born.
Before the Civil War few black women in the north and virtually none in the south received any education at all. Attempts to educate black and white girls together had met with hostility. Mob violence forced Prudence Crandall to close her school in Canterbury, Connecticut after she admitted a black girl in 1831. Charlotte Forten, daughter of a prosperous family of Philadelphia sailmakers, was sent to school in Massachusetts in 1854 when Philadelphia high schools refused to accept her because of her colour. Steeped in the abolitionist sentiments of her parents and grandparents she went south during the Civil War to teach the newly emancipated slaves in the South Carolina Sea Islands. She wrote in her diary that “part of my scholars are very tiny,—babies I call them—and it is hard to keep them quiet and interested while I am hearing the larger ones.” She taught adult members of the community in the evenings. Forten also nursed for a short time during the Civil War in Beaufort, South Carolina, while working for the Port Royal Relief Association. Following the Civil War, Forten returned to Philadelphia where she settled into a peaceful existence, writing articles on the Port Royal experiment for the Atlantic Monthly. Other articles appeared in various New England magazines. She thus joined that group of women stigmatised by Nathaniel Hawthorne as “that damn mob of scribbling women.”
With the commercialisation of the press in the 1830s American women took to their pens to edit and write for new periodicals such as Godey’s Lady’s Magazine, as well as authoring novels, poems, and essays. Sarah Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Magazine, Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Catherine Beecher, founder of Hartford Female Seminary and author of domestic advice manuals, and novelists Catherine Sedgwick, Caroline Hentz, Caroline Howard Gilman all idealised domesticity. Their writing stressed women’s special qualities of piety, virtue, submissiveness, and, of course, domesticity.
These authors depicted women as civilising, refining, and Christianising influences upon the men for whom they maintained homes as a refuge from the industrial and commercial world. Mary Ryan describes the domestic fiction of this era as having three main canons: women must marry; husbands must be superior to their wives; women must find power and action in their apparently inferior position.
House and family became women’s vocation when the factory production of goods undermined household manufacturing functions. The cult of domesticity and true womanhood which the literary domestics upheld in the nineteenth century substituted this vocation for the work women previously performed at home. These authors emphasised that women were the guardians of the home and the family and the repositories of moral virtue. They laid the foundations for much of the reform activity which followed, believing that women could save men from the impurities of the workaday world and educate their children in the ways of righteousness. Dominion over the home gave women both rights and responsibilities; it justified activism outside the home, but only in the name of the home and women’s special mission. Thus the dichotomy between public and private gave women a stake in external activities as the legitimate voice of domesticity and the private world. Daniel Scott Smith believes that ‘women asserted themselves within the family much as their husbands were attempting to assert themselves outside the home.” In doing so they extended their autonomy first within and then beyond the family circle, in a movement Smith labelled “domestic feminism.”
Where earlier writers viewed motherhood as but one of women’s tasks, the propounders and publicists of the Cult of Domesticity saw motherhood as the most important female responsibility. Nineteenth century motherhood necessitated immolation upon the altar of domesticity. Puritans had viewed children as little devils who were innately corrupt and could only be saved by joining the Church. But in the nineteenth century, they were viewed as innocents over whom eternal vigilance should be exercised, even at the cost of great selfdenial. Lydia Maria Child wrote in the Mother Book that the care of children required a great many sacrifices and self-abnegation. “The woman who is not willing to sacrifice a good deal in such a cause does not deserve to be a mother.” Previously if a child did not turn out satisfactorily his or her inner devils and lack of faith were deemed responsible. In the nineteenth century, the mother bore this onus because maternality replaced conversion as the salvation of the world. Motherhood provided scope for women to act from their position of inferiority to achieve domestic bliss.
Powerful forces of gender socialisation kept men’s and women’s roles distinct, whether on the frontier or in the more settled parts of the country. Worthy women received encomiums for their housekeeping and maternal skills and also for being deferent and devout. Barbara Welter describes the True Woman as one who did not let her interests waver from her family. Church work was particularly favoured as it did not make her less domestic or submissive. As a member of the Missionary Society of Tuscaloosa, Alabama wrote “No sensible woman will suffer her intellectual pursuits to clash with her domestic duties” and so she will concentrate on religious work “which promotes these very duties.”
The relationship of women to organised religion in North America reflected the complexities of the theological controversies instrumental in the European colonisation of North America. The Puritan Divines who expelled Anne Hutchinson and her followers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for heretical and unseemly behaviour were dismayed as much by her gender and public speaking on religious issues as by her theology. Although a few groups such as the Society of Friends (the Quakers) and the Shakers accepted women as religious equals, most denominations believed they should be submissive to men in religious as well as household affairs.
The religious fervour which swept over the United States during the Second Great Awakening powerfully affected women. This revival movement struck a responsive chord in the collective female bosom of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states when young women, excluded from formal theology and church affairs, listened to the message preached by Charles Grandison Finney and other revivalists that faith and Christian behaviour brought salvation. Female converts outnumbered males by a ratio of three to two, the single largest group being young, unmarried women. Harriet Martineau described American women of this era pursuing religion as an occupation. It gave meaning to their lives and brought them together with likeminded contemporaries from a similar social background, the emerging middle class.
The very diversity of American religions enabled women to choose those which they found most amenable to their interests. According to Jill Conway, this enabled women to use religious affiliation to question male authority. Many young female participants in Methodist camp meetings and revivals challenged traditional sources of religion and asserted their individuality in their search for God. But while such women may have been moved by the fervour of the Second Great Awakening, they generally remained within the acceptable gendered precepts of organised religion, listening to male preachers, supporting them rather than supplanting them. Evangelical theology reinforced submissiveness in women, according to Anne Firor Scott who found that southern women “sought diligently to live up to the prescriptions, to attain the perfection and the submissiveness demanded of them by God and man.”
Nevertheless, the emphasis within evangelical Protestant churches upon women’s moral superiority sometimes led women to transgress accepted social and religious roles. There were a few women preachers among those sects where visible manifestations of the Spirit mattered more than clerical education credentials. But as the Methodist, Freewill and Christian churches became more institutionalised they, too, emphasised social respectability and professional ministerial training, and women were relegated to the female missionary societies and benevolent associations. The number of women preachers or exhorters had never been large. Even at their peak, Louis Billington estimates that between one and five per cent of the Freewill Baptist and Christian ministers were women. By the 1840s the number of itinerant female evangelists fell sharply.
Some of the alternative religions and utopian communities which developed in the early and middle decades of the nineteenth century questioned traditional gender roles as they attempted to reform the relationship between the individual and the community. These attracted large numbers of female members, but varied in their attitudes towards women’s roles. Some, like the Oneida Community, believed in free sexual liaisons between members. The Shakers, founded by Anne Lee, had parallel lines of authority for women and men and frequently had women leaders. While women still performed household tasks within the Shaker communities, celibacy freed them from maternity and enabled them to work on an equivalent basis with men. By no means all new religions in the United States accorded women a measure of equality in their society. Women formed a sizeable proportion of the Mormon Church, but although they had central roles in the welfare of their communities, they were rigidly excluded from the hierarchy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the only American church to practice polygamy.
Although New England ministers preached against women assuming the pulpit, they increasingly relied upon women for their congregations and directed their participation into activities appropriate for females. Maternal associations, moral reform societies, and female mission societies flourished on the rough ground of New England and the richer pastures of the Burned Over District of western New York State and the Western Reserve. Ministers encouraged women to wield their influence to raise the standard of male behaviour to protect domestic purity and religion, and to support religion in public and private. Encouraged by clergymen anxious to increase their flocks, women founded and joined church missionary societies and other religious organisations.
Women’s social reform, voluntary, and political activities grew out of the reform movements of the nineteenth century and the developing Cult of True Womanhood which held that women were uniquely endowed with kindness, virtue, and religious devotion. While contemporary society questioned the legitimacy of women’s speaking out in public and any extra-household activity could contravene social norms, church and charity-based activities were generally deemed to be socially acceptable. But the farther women moved from traditional domestic roles (often challenging authority in public), the more controversial their activities became. Although hampered by gender, that is, by the social constructs of women’s roles, women saw themselves as moral agents. This moral agency, the desire to speak out and do good, led women to participate in temperance, anti-slavery, and social reform crusades. It ultimately resulted in a women’s rights movement which reflected the frustration of many reformers (particularly after the Civil War) with the limitations placed upon women’s public expression of, and action upon, their beliefs.
Female reform activities initially took a religious approach. In 1817, the Reverend Matthew LaRue Perrine told the first annual meeting of the Female Missionary Society for the Poor of the City of New York that it would become them “to exhibit a pattern of Christian modesty, meekness, and submission” which was the ornament of their sex. Women were active in the Sunday School movement. Here the Cult of Domesticity helped women to expand the scope of their activities, for the emphasis on women’s special suitability for the instruction of the young helped them to bypass the Pauline doctrine that women should keep silent in the churches. As it spread across the United States the Sunday School movement provided opportunities for women to teach, study the Bible, and become intimately involved with the workings of their churches.
Some women’s piety inspired them to cross class or racial boundaries as did Anne Clay who organized a Sunday School for slave children on her brother’s Georgia plantation. Women formed mite societies to buy Bibles and religious tracts for distribution to the unconverted abroad, in remote districts, and in the increasingly heterogeneous urban areas. Others formed female missionary societies, mostly to raise funds to support male missionaries; although some undertook proselytising work themselves, preaching to the poor and unconverted.
Religiously inspired philanthropy might lead to departures from traditional female roles in several significant ways. Initially women only assisted other women who conformed to socially accepted roles: indigent widows, aged spinsters, and orphaned children. Eventually, the genteel reformers in urban areas sought to reform the behaviour of strangers from diverse ethnocultural backgrounds rather than just lend a helping hand to neighbours down on their luck or members of their own church. Members of moral reform societies took their activities a step further by visiting the wayward and fallen, singing hymns and praying outside brothels, and petitioning state legislatures for reform legislation. Female reformers justified their unconventional activities through reference to domestic piety, women’s special abilities and responsibilities. They posited a kind of social motherhood in which they mothered society as a whole, not just their own children. As the moral guardians of society, women went beyond the domestic circle, thus subverting notions of “True Womanhood” and domesticity in order to carry out their moral duty to reform society.
Many women began their pursuit of moral reform by advocating restrictions upon alcohol consumption. Female involvement in temperance reform also grew out of the evangelical impulses of the Second Great Awakening. Temperance societies proliferated in the 1820s and 1830s, prompted partially by revivalist ministers such as Lyman Beecher who advocated abstinence along with other roads to salvation. Temperance was also a nativist reaction to the higher levels of alcohol consumption prevalent among recent Irish and German immigrants. The American Temperance Society garnered a million members in some 5,000 branches by the mid-1830s.
Inspired by the same concerns as their male counterparts, some women joined men’s temperance societies, but this did not permit them an active role. Their frustration at being kept on the sidelines led them to hold small gatherings in their own homes, forming exclusively female temperance societies in which they could set policy and hold office. Women formed Martha Washington societies to complement the largely male Washington Temperance groups. In 1848, schoolteacher and temperance advocate Susan B. Anthony called a Daughters of Temperance meeting in Albany, New York because the newly founded Sons of Temperance excluded women. The meeting was poorly attended since public opinion frowned upon women speaking in open gatherings. Using another method, reform-minded women in the Burned Over District began a newspaper to spread the temperance message.
The career of Amelia Jenks Bloomer, the editor of that temperance newspaper, The Lily, illustrates the way that a religiously based moral fervour could lead the adherent into broader reform issues. The Lily was a pioneering venture in a conservative cause. Bloomer had penned occasional articles for local temperance papers such as The Water Bucket and Temperance Star, but it was unheard of for a woman to run a newspaper. The Seneca Falls Ladies’ Temperance Society justified their activities in The Lily’s first editorial in 1848:
It is woman that speaks through The Lily. It is upon an important subject, too, that she comes before the public to be heard. Intemperance is the great foe to her peace and happiness. It is that above all which has made her home desolate and beggared her offspring. It is that above all which has filled to its brim her cup of sorrow and sent her moaning to the grave. Surely she has a right to wield the pen for its suppression. Surely she may, without throwing aside the modest retirement which so much becomes her sex, use her influence to lead her fellow-mortals away from the destroyer’s path.
The ladies of Seneca Falls saw their temperance advocacy in terms which initially accorded well with the Cult of True Womanhood. They engaged in public writing in defence of their homes and their maternal duties, emphasising modesty and purity. The Lily evolved into a forum for women’s writings, not only on temperance, but also on abolition, women’s rights, and dress reform. Amongst these significant moral issues, dress reform seems an anomaly. Yet Bloomer, her frequent correspondent Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony all believed that women’s garments were so impractical and cumbersome that improvements were needed. Women’s fashions in the 1840s and 1850s featured trailing skirts, multiple petticoats, and tightly laced whalebone corsets. They were heavy, impeded breathing, and were inconvenient for active lives. The Lily carried patterns for Turkish pantaloons with an overdress which subsequently became known as Bloomers, although Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s cousin, Elizabeth Smith Miller, wore them first. The ridicule which greeted this costume caused Bloomer, Stanton, and Anthony all to abandon it after a few years in order that their innovative dressing did not detract from their reform work. Bloomers passsed out of sight, except for occasional usage by farm women, until the turn of the century when heightened emphasis upon health and physical well being led many women to take exercise riding bicycles or playing tennis and dress in a less restrictive fashion when doing so.
Some of the women involved in temperance reform also became involved in the antislavery movement. The abolitionist crusade attracted many women, blending a crusade for the rights of the weak with a concern for family life. In the greatest of the anti-slavery novels, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe uses an essentially domestic plot to highlight the evils of slavery. The pain of slavery came from its abuse of patriarchal authority, the separation of loving families, and the corruption of power. Freedom in Stowe’s words was the right of a man “to call the wife of his bosom his wife, to protect her from lawless violence; the right to protect and educate his child; the right to have a home of his own, a character of his own, unsubject to the will of another.” The novel also challenged slavery by elevating motherhood and domesticity, regardless of race, to a higher sphere. Thus when Marie St. Claire denies Mammy to her own children she is condemned for being an unnatural mother. Stowe condemned slavery because it threatened the primacy of the family, coming between mother and child and husband and wife.
Women who participated in the abolitionist movement encountered hostitility from male anti-slavery workers. The World Anti-Slavery Congress in London in 1840 refused to seat American women delegates, which caused consternation and raised both women’s and men’s awareness of how gender roles limited women’s action in worthy causes. Because she was a women the convention forced delegate Lucretia Mott from Philadelphia to sit in the gallery, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, wife of a New York State delegate. Blanche Hersh’s study of feminist abolitionists highlights the extent to which anti-slavery senitment acted as a catalyst to feminism in the mid-nineteenth century. She found that women prominent in the movement came from New England families with a tradition of radicalism, both in religion and in politics. They were committed to social reform and had a sense of their own special mission. They were also frustrated by the lack of scope women had for acting upon their deeply held beliefs which in turn led them to question the strictures placed upon their sex.
It is not surprising then that many of the leaders of the women’s rights movement of the mid and late nineteenth century had been active in both the temperance and abolitionist movements. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organised the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. They used the Declaration of Independence for their model, calling for equality of the sexes before the law, an end to male oppression of women, better educational facilities, greater employment opportunities, and women’s suffrage. The only resolution which did not pass unanimously was the one which requested female suffrage. Many women at the convention opposed women’s suffrage, believing it unseemly. The convention galvanised women’s rights campaigns in the north and west, but not in the south, where the close connection between abolitionism and women’s rights made the latter anathema to white male southerners.
The Civil War ended slavery and also ripped apart the feminist abolitionist alliance. Many women who had struggled valiantly to end slavery opposed the Fourteenth Amendment which would grant the franchise to all male citizens. For the first time the Constitution specifically provided a privilege to one sex which it denied the other. Abolitionist men and many women did not believe they could overcome the opposition to enfranchising black men if, at the same time, they sought the vote for all women. This led to the development of two post war organisations to fight for women’s suffrage, the National Woman Suffrage Association, formed in 1869 by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, and the American Woman’s Suffrage Association. The NWSA was the more radical of the two groups, seeking to force Congress to enfranchise women, for which the AWSA campaigned on a state by state basis.
By the end of the nineteenth century, women’s educational levels rose as more and more women attended high schools, providing new opportunities to take white collar jobs in the offices and shops which were an increasingly important sector of the economy. Women’s college attendance also began to increase at the turn of the century. In 1870, there were 582 colleges and universities in the United States; 59 per cent of these admitted men only and 12 per cent were women’s colleges. In 1890, the proportion of men’s colleges fell to 37 per cent while the number of higher educational institutions increased to 1082. The proportion of women’s colleges peaked at this time at 20 per cent. By 1910, only 27 per cent of American colleges barred women, 15 per cent took women only and 58 per cent were coeducational. Many state universities funded under the provisions of the Morrill Land Grant Act resisted women’s attempts to matriculate, but found it difficult to maintain this stance in the face of concerted protests against public funds being used only for men’s benefit. By the beginning of the twentieth century, almost all public colleges and universities admitted women, leaving single sex education primarily in the private sector.
Coeducation could work to the disadvantage of women as Mary Roth Walsh has argued in Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply. Sexual Barriers in the Medical Profession, 1835-1975. The admission of women to men’s medical colleges such as Johns Hopkins University led paradoxically to a decline in opportunity for women since once the universities opened their doors to women, almost all separate medical colleges for women went out of business. Public and private universities such as Johns Hopkins, Boston University and the University of Michigan imposed quotas of about 5 per cent upon the number of women they would accept. Thus women’s enrolments fell from about 10 per cent of all medical students in the 1880s and 1890s to about 5 per cent after the turn of the century. Women encountered hostility from the male medical profession in employment even after they managed to qualify as doctors. Fewer than 10 per cent of all hospitals surveyed in 1920 by the American Medical Association would hire female physicians. Women interested in medicine were routinely advised to become nurses where they could combine healing with traditional female virtues. Doctors were (male) authority figures while nurses were their (female) handmaidens. Nursing schools proliferated at the same time that opportunities for women as physicians remained static or declined. In 1920, about 96 per cent of all nurses were women, compared with about 5 per cent of all doctors. 
Between 1870 and 1920, more women joined the labour force and the variety of jobs they undertook expanded, but as this review of women in the medical professions suggests, certain fundamental characteristics of female employment and female employees remained the same. Most women workers were segregated into occupational ghettoes and remained in the labour force for a relatively brief time. The interaction of these factors coupled with hostility from male workers and employers kept women’s wages low and working conditions usually poor.
The proportion of employed women rose from 14 per cent in 1870 to 23 per cent in 1920. Different groups in the population varied dramatically in the proportions of women who held jobs. In 1890, about 15 per cent of all native born white women were in the labour force compared with 20 per cent of women born abroad and 40 per cent of all black women. By 1920, the proportion of foreign born women in the labour force remained static, but that of white women born in the United States increased to 23 per cent, while black women’s rose to 44 per cent.
The tendency of white women not to work after marriage changed marginally during this era, while black women were far more likely to stay in the labour force regardless of marital status. Working for pay remained overwhelmingly the province of single women in this era among whites. Most families preferred women to contribute their domestic labours to their own households rather than continue to work at poorly paid jobs after marriage. The containment of women’s employment to one phase of the life cycle reflected the interaction between the objective conditions of their work (poorly paid jobs with few promotion prospects) and the gender ideologies of the era that women’s special place was the household and men’s was to support it. At the turn of the century about 3 per cent of all married white women had jobs, compared with 26 per cent of their black counterparts, while in 1920 7 per cent of the white and 32 per cent of the black married women were employed. Some of the white women who continued to work after marriage had professional careers, but many of the others worked in shops and offices.
Sociologists Roslyn L. Feldberg and Evelyn Nakano Glenn have objected that the employment models and explanations for male and female behaviour used by most historians and sociologists have a differential basis. Men’s work is explained through a job model which examines the actual nature of the work. In contrast, women’s is explained either through a gender model which examines correct social roles or through a family economy model which looks at female employment through the prism of the family rather than the dynamics of the available jobs. In evaluating which model best explains the level and nature of women’s employment, one needs to consider the extent to which gender and job opportunities interacted, as well as matters of race and ethnicity which powerfully affected female opportunities.
According to Elizabeth H. Pleck, poverty alone did not explain the higher rates of black women’s labour force participation in this era. She found that black women’s employment levels were higher than those of Italian immigrants of comparable income levels. Italian families relied upon the labour contributions of their children, particularly their sons, to offset the low incomes earned by the men. Black families had a different survival strategy, utilising women’s labour in the face of uncertain employment for men and the narrow range of opportunities for young black workers. Virginia Yans McLaughlin similarly attributed the low labour force participation levels of Italian women in Buffalo, New York to cultural preferences and ascribed gender roles within the Italian community. However, the actual structure of employment opportunity within any community also had a strong influence on women’s work rates. As I have argued elsewhere, women’s employment levels were higher amongst all ethnic and cultural groups when female employment opportunities were plentiful. Thus Italian women in New York City had higher employment levels than their sisters in Buffalo because the larger metropolis had more numerous openings for women than the smaller one.
The nature of opportunity shifted as the century ended and that shift disadvantaged immigrant and non-white women who had less access to education. This in turn limited their ability to develop their full potential and move freely within the job market. Women with lower educational levels competed unfavourably for the white collar occupations which comprised a growing segment of women’s employment. In 1870, over half of all women workers were domestic servants, about one-fourth were agricultural labourers, one-fifth were factory .hands, and the rest worked in trade and transportation (typically as sales clerks) and in the professions (primarily teaching). By 1920, the proportion of women working as domestics and field hands had dropped by about half while that of industrial workers remained about the same. In 1870, these three categories accounted for 94 per cent of all women workers, declining to about 60 per cent by 1920. In that year about 16 per cent of the working women had sales and office jobs and 10 per cent were professionals (primarily teachers and nurses).
Women’s jobs were evaluated by workers themselves and society generally on a standard that had little to do with wages. A domestic servant who lived in her employer’s household might earn more than a factory hand or a sales clerk (assuming that the cash value of the servant’s room and board is included in the equation), but her job had less status because of its servile, nonmodern connotations and because it was done for other women. The comparison between most white collar jobs and factory work shows that clerking was more prestigious than operating a sewing machine but generally worse paid. Notions about appropriate locations for women’s employment led to an emphasis on “genteel” work for women, characterised by clean surroundings, white blouses, and the absence of foreign born or nonwhite workmates.
Employers anxious to keep wage levels down manipulated women’s notions of gentility to their own advantage. Department store owners refused to hire foreign born or black women. Elizabeth Butler found that more than four-fifths of the women working in Baltimore’s retail trade at the turn of the century were born in the United States as were a comparable level of Pittsburgh’s department store workers. The demand for such jobs was high enough that wages were lower than in the factories or homes of these cities. As Susan Porter Benson notes in her investigation of women’s employment in the burgeoning retail sector of the economy, employers used notions of gender to depress women’s wages and segregate them into lower paying jobs within stores.
Moreover, the women who took these jobs had little chance for advancement. Women rarely held supervisory positions. They tended to work in occupations in which work was subdivided into small tasks where proficiency might bring lower piece rates rather than promotion to more advanced tasks. Despite the expansion of the range of jobs undertaken by women, domestic service was still the single largest job category for women in this era. Given that most households employed only one servant and that wages were set by customs rather than individual merit, the prospects for advancement were virtually nonexistent. In other settings women were discouraged by gendered assumptions about hierarchies and the motives ascribed to women workers. Although women workers knew they were in the labour force because they and their families needed the money, employers used the pernicious notion that they worked only for “pin money” as an excuse to pay women poorly. There were few occupations in which the sexes did the same work, teaching being one of them. Yet, women teachers received lower wages than men, were rarely promoted, and were concentrated in the more poorly paid elementary schools. Sex role conventions thus limited the type of work women could do, their remuneration, and their prospects for promotion. The net result was that most women in this era still viewed work as a interlude rather than a career.
Women’s lack of bargaining power hampered their struggle to improve their wages, working conditions, and promotion prospects. They found it more difficult than men to organise into trade unions. The fragmented and personalised nature of domestic service, the conflation of racial and ethnic hierarchies and the poverty of the workers all inhibited unionising efforts. In industry, male co-workers viewed women with suspicion. Their lower wages meant that they had smaller savings upon which to rely in times of industrial turmoil. Many male union members wanted to be paid a higher wage which would enable them to support their families without help from women or children. To them women’s employment, associated as it frequently was with the introduction of machinery, undermined the position of male workers. They favoured women’s removal from the labour force rather than their organisation. Women did achieve some signal successes in forming protective organisations, particularly in the garment industry where so many employees were female. Nevertheless, even where women were active in the unions they were underrepresented among the leadership.
Alice Kessler-Harris attributes women trade unionists’ indifferent successes to ambivalent cultural patterns and antagonism from union men. Leslie Woodcock Tender emphasises women workers’ own characteristics, their youth and acceptance of gender roles in her explanation of women’s underrepresentation in the union movement. Roger Waldinger examines the changing nature of the garment trade and finds within its increasing reliance upon small outside contractors an explanation for the failure to organise women. The ephemeral nature of such firms made enjoyment unstable. This in turn lowered women’s attachment to their jobs and ability to organise. Another reason for women’s relatively low level of unionisation is that the areas in which women’s employment expanded most rapidly, white collar and professional occupations, proved difficult to organise.
Although trade unions achieved some successes during this era, they protected a minority of male industrial workers and very few women. In order to provide some protection for the large majority of unorganised working women, a few women formed an alliance across the social classes. Formed in 1903, the Women’s Trade Union League pressured employers into improving working conditions and wages while sustaining strike efforts through the support of affluent women. The WTUL moved away from direct support of women’s organising activities towards an emphasis on legislative reform within a decade of its founding. It thus embodied the new tendency towards legislative rather than union protection of women workers’ interests.
Attempts had been made throughout the nineteenth century to enlist the power of the state on the side of labour, but the courts threw out such legislation claiming that it violated the rights of workers to freely contract their labour. At the end of the nineteenth century, however, state legislatures moved from an emphasis on protecting all workers to a gender and age-based protection, arguing that the state had a special interest in preserving the health and well-being of women and children. Many states forbid women to take jobs which would supposedly endanger their moral purity (working in saloons), reproductive capacity (working 12-hour days), or bring them into danger through direct contact with strangers (delivering telegrams, reading electricity and gas meters, or driving taxis). 
In 1908, the Supreme Court accepted that states could legitimately protect women, but not men, in Muller v Oregon. In doing so it enshrined the perception of women as mothers first and individual wage earners second. In that landmark case the Court differentiated between men’s right to contract the hours of their labour, with which it was unconstitutional to interfere, and women’s, where the state had an obligation to protect women.
Woman’s physical structure and the performance of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle for subsistence … Differentiated by these matters from the other sex, she is properly placed in a class by herself, and legislation designed for her protection may be sustained, even when like legislation is not necessary for men and could not be sustained. It is impossible to close one’s eyes to the fact that she still looks to her brother and depends upon him . . . Her physical structure and a proper discharge of her maternal functions-having in view not merely her own health, but the well-being of the race justify legislation to protect her from the greed as well as the passion of man.
The Supreme Court used assumptions about gender roles, women’s supposed weakness, and the vested interest of the state in preserving the vigour and strength of the race to differentiate between the sexes. It sought to protect (potential) motherhood at the expense of individual interests, needs, or capabilities. It thus made sex a valid basis of classification which subsequently kept women off juries, out of some state supported colleges and some state licensed occupations. By viewing women primarily as mothers, the Supreme Court foreclosed job opportunities and limited women’s citizenship rights.
The term “Woman Movement” has been used by historians to describe the upsurge of female activism in the late nineteenth century. It was a complex, multilayered movement replete with shifting alliances and internal contradictions, not the least of which was brought about by the tension between arguing that women should have rights because they were citizens and claiming that they should have rights because of their special feminine talents and insights. As Nancy Cott has noted in her incisive history, The Grounding of Modern Feminism, by the end of the nineteenth century the woman movement wished both to eliminate sex-specific restrictions and preserve those special feminine qualities embodied in the notion of a separate women’s sphere.
Many, but not all, of the concerns around which women organised in the decades between the Civil War and World War One were outgrowths of antebellum issues. The campaign for women’s suffrage is the most obvious of these, but agitation for temperance also continued under the auspices of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874. The WCTU was comprised primarily of married, middle-class women from the towns and smaller cities. Most members were native born whites who attended evangelical churches, especially Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations. Many members were heavily involved in church choirs, home and foreign missionary societies, needlework guilds, sewing circles and mothers groups. Their activities were an outgrowth of their church work and family orientation. The main focus was temperance, but they also devoted themselves to a range of charitable activities.
WCTU members distributed flowers to aged ladies and sick persons, and clothing and food to the poor. They supported missionaries, organised a children’s temperance group, and pressed for temperance instruction in the schools. The WCTU campaigned at the local level for more rigourous Sabbath observance and strict fidelity to existing limitations on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes. At the national level their main concern was the passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting the sale of alcohol. At both the state and national level, the crusade for temperance gave the women involved experience in organising political campaigns. They circulated petitions, picketed saloons, published magazines, and lobbied legislatures and town councils. Increasingly they supported women’s suffrage as a means to accomplish temperance ends.
Rural women fought for the rights of farmers and country dwellers in the Grange, Farmers Alliance, and Populist movements. For women living on isolated farms these movements provided social contact as well as serving the economic and political interests of farm families. Among the more notable Populist campaigners, Mary Lease lectured in western districts, telling farmers they needed to raise less corn and more hell. The Populist Party supported women’s suffrage as well as other measures which accorded well with its doctrine of popular rule including the direct election of senators, a system of referenda and recall, and the “Australian” or secret ballot.
Women’s organisations proliferated at the turn of the century. Not all had the same direct political content of Mary Lease’s populism. A number of women’s organisations which favoured suffrage did so instrumentally; that is, for what the vote could accomplish, rather than having enfranchisement as their primary aim. Others were reluctant to support women’s suffrage for fear of alienating conservative members. This was true of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs formed in 1890 to provide a national organisation for women’s literary clubs scattered throughout the cities and towns. Initially the GFWC opposed women’s suffrage at the same time that it urged its members to be active in their communities. It also excluded black women in order not to offend white sensibilities. Shut out by prejudice, black women formed their own National Association of Coloured Women in 1896. According to Eleanor Flexner’s pioneering history of the Women’s Rights Movement, these clubs had an importance and content which set them apart from white women’s literary and educational societies. The NACW reflected the economic and social realities of black society. It crusaded against lynching and “for the benefit of all humanity,” in the words of Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, a founding member.
Women activists of this era increasingly relied upon arguments about women’s special virtues rather than their natural rights in order to justify their endeavours and enlarge the scope of their activities. The merger of the two suffrage associations into the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890 reinvigorated the national campaign for the vote, but with different intellectual underpinnings. This shift occurred because many of the specific legal disabilities suffered by women at the middle of the nineteenth century had been corrected by its end. Married women could now own property and make binding contracts, for example. Women’s educational levels rose. More women had entered the labour force and the nature of that labour force had changed as middle class women took jobs, for example, as settlement house and social workers. The generation of suffragists led by Harriet Stanton Blatch (Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter), found a strong connection between women’s new economic roles and their justification and need to vote. Better educated and more comfortable in the world outside the home, these women were less willing to be silent in public.
The changing nature of the argument can be seen both in the Progressive movement and the campaign for the vote. The women of the Progressive movement spearheaded the battle for the reform of municipal government, the improvement of urban living conditions, and the protection of those members of society less able to defend themselves, including children, working women, and the poor. Concerned as were Progressives generally by the unequal relations between labour and capital, they formed the National Consumers’ League in order to lobby affluent Americans into using their buying power to improve the working conditions of shop assistants and textile workers. The National Consumers’ League fused economic and legislative pressure, publishing lists of stores which conformed to their standards of treatment for employees and pressing for reform legislation. They recognised that their legislative efforts would be more effective if they had the vote to back up their campaigns.
The Settlement House movement embodied many of the strains and tensions of the turn of the century Woman Movement. Kathryn Kish Sklar’s analysis of Chicago’s Hull House in the 1890s found that the power of women settlement workers came both from their having a separate female institution and from their access to male spheres of influence. Jane Addams, the founder of the Hull House Settlement, believed that women should have the vote so that they could legislate a more just world. In her 1910 essay, “Why Women Should Vote”, published in the popular women’s magazine The Ladies Home Journal, Addams wrote that women’s first duty was to their own households. In the complex urban world emerging at the turn of the century, they failed in that duty unless they broadened their sense of responsibilities to the world outside the households, to the environment in which they lived and its social conditions.
Women’s purview extended to the education and welfare of their children. They had to ensure that their-children were provided with good schools, kept free from the vicious influences of the street, and were protected by adequate child labour legislation if—they worked. “More than once,” Jane Addams wrote,
Woman has been convinced of the need of the ballot by the futility of her efforts in persuading a business man that young children need nurture in something besides the three r’s. Perhaps, too, only women realise the influence which the school might exert upon the home if a proper adaptation to actual needs were considered. An Italian girl who has lessons in cooking at the public school will help her mother to connect the entire family with American food and household habits. That the mother has never baked bread in Italy—only mixed it in her own house and then taken it out to the village oven—makes it all the more necessary that her daughter should understand the complications of a cooking stove. 
Her argument justified women’s suffrage in the most socially conventional terms: those of motherhood and patriotism. It played upon fears of unassimilable foreigners and broadened women’s remit from their own families to all families. As children attended school at younger ages and more goods were manufactured outside the home, women’s interests should follow their children into the schools and the goods they purchased into the factories where they were made and the shops in which they were sold. Echoing the Supreme Court decision of Muller v Oregon written two years earlier, Addams believed that older women should see to it that younger ones were not incapacitated for family life because they were forced to work exhausting hours under unsanitary conditions. As with many reformers of her era, Addams believed that women needed the vote in order to preserve their homes.
A few women wanted the vote but nevertheless rejected the maternalist argument for suffrage. Charlotte Perkins Gilman favoured redesigning housing to lessen the burden of housework and childcare upon women. In two of her major books, Women and Economics and The Home, she advocated the removal of domesticity as women’s central concern. Most female activists and women generally accepted its crucial place in women’s lives however much they differed on the political consequences of maternal devotion. Gilman, on the other hand, discarded sentimentalised views of motherhood. She claimed that all advances in children’s education and health were due to professional intervention rather than maternal instinct. She supported women’s suffrage, arguing that communal kitchens, cleaning services, and creches would free women from their domestic burdens and enable them to participate fully in politics. Social progress depended upon “the smooth development of personal character, the happy fulfilment of special function. The home, in its ceaseless and inexorable demands, stops this great process of specialisation in women, and checks it cruelly in men.” In order for women in particular and humanity in general to advance, women had to be freed from the burdens of the home and become full citizens.
The problem suffragists faced was how to persuade men to extend the vote to them. Two strategies emerged: a campaign to amend the voting legislation in each state and another for a federal constitutional amendment, which would need to obtain two-thirds approval of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the state legislatures. Wyoming Territory applied for statehood in 1889 with a constitution which contained a clause providing women’s suffrage. By the time of its admission, nineteen states granted limited voting rights to women, usually to widows with school age children, in school board elections and on tax and bond issues.
There were nearly 500 campaigns in 33 states to get women’s suffrage before the voters between 1870 and 1910. Of these, only 17 resulted in referenda and only two resulted in men voting to share the ballot with women. By the turn of the century, four western states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho) had women’s suffrage. By 1913, five more states had been added to the suffrage column. Attempts to gain the ballot elsewhere ran into a stubborn combination of hostility from the liquor interests (who connected women’s suffrage with temperance and concluded that both were bad for business) and political and social conservatives.
Inspired by the militance of British suffrage advocates and stymied by the intransigence of state legislatures, both the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the newly formed Congressional Union (under the leadership of Alice Paul) began a fresh onslaught on an amendment to the federal constitution. The Congressional Union developed new tactics, including holding the party in power responsible for suffrage. It worked for the defeat of Democratic candidates in those states where women had the vote. The herculean efforts to obtain the vote in the large industrial states of Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania met a resounding defeat in 1915. After these defeats Carrie Chapman Catt rallied the NAWSA to change its tactics and work wholeheartedly for a constitutional amendment.
The Congressional Union, now formed into the National Women’s Party, continued its pressure on the Democratic Party and President Wilson by picketing the White House with banners querying “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?” The pickets endured attack, arrest, and force feeding in jail, which made martyrs of them and attracted sympathy to the suffrage cause. A year after the picketing began the House of Representatives passed a suffrage amendment to the Constitution, but the Senate rejected it. The NWP then started picketing on Capitol Hill.
When the United States entered World War One, the NAWSA offered its services to the President, while the NWP (with many Quaker members), continued its singleminded dedication to the suffrage amendment. The majority of American women did not emulate the pacifist stance of the Women’s Party. Many worked for the war effort in foundries, blast furnaces, and railroad yards. The brief nature of the United States’ participation in the war limited the consequences of these innovations. When the men returned women lost their jobs as bus conductors and on the railroads. Employers used the state legislative provisions against female night work to lay off the women they had hired during the war in manufacturing jobs. Women did retain their jobs in the expanding sectors of the economy, in office jobs, shops, and communications. The war thus had little impact on the highly gendered basis of women’s employment. Women still worked with other women and for men.
It is possible to view the Nineteenth Amendment which finally gave women the vote in 1920 as the most lasting legacy of the war. At the start of the war women enjoyed full suffrage in eleven states, all but one of these west of the Mississippi. Except for the primary vote in Arkansas, there was no women’s suffrage in the south, where white supremacists opposed enfranchisement because they feared the possibility of black women’s voting. Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National Association, and Nettie Rogers Schuler, its corresponding secretary, believed that many big business interests objected to the Nineteenth Amendment because they feared women’s penchant for reform activities. Before the proposed federal amendment came to a vote President Wilson spoke to the Senate urging its passage because “we have made partners of women in this war; shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?”
According to Eleanor Flexner, Wilson’s intervention had little positive effect. The grounds of the argument had shifted from rights to expediency. Few opponents still shared the concerns of Senator McCumber from North Dakota who wished to preserve mothers from excitement and strife. They now argued that the issue was one of states’ rights and that the decision to enfranchise women should be taken at the local level rather than by the federal government. In 1918, three more states passed suffrage amendments, but the Senate still voted against sending the constitutional amendment to the states. Only in 1919 did it finally join the House of Representatives in passing the Nineteenth Amendment by the required two-thirds majority. The requisite thirty-six states ratified the amendment but with several cliff hanging votes so that the outcome was in doubt until the last.
The ratification of the suffrage amendment dissipated the feminist energies which had been narrowly focused upon this single goal for the past two decades. The NAWSA became the League of Women Voters, dedicated to voter education, while the Woman’s Party began its long and apparently futile drive to further alter the constitution with an equal rights amendment. At least initially, Progressive supporters of women’s suffrage were disappointed: women did not use their votes very differently from men.
Proponents of women’s suffrage had made few specific claims as to the outcome of female enfranchisement, although there was an underlying assumption that women’s suffrage would somehow lead to a better, more just world. Most women themselves perceived their lives in terms of their class, religious, racial, or ethnic interests, and frequently, as with men, as a combination of those interests. They tended not to differentiate between their needs as women and as members of their respective groups; thus they voted in much the same way as the men. Moreover, voter participation generally declined in the 1920s both because of more complex voter registration procedures and the rise of administrative rather than elective government, particularly at the local level. In order to succeed in electoral politics, women had to work through the same political parties which had for so long denied them the vote and which prized loyalty as the cardinal political virtue. As a result party politics also repressed the articulation and action upon separate women’s issues.
The new order emerging in the 1920s owed less to women’s presence in the voting booths than to consumerism, mass communications, falling birth rates, and rising employment levels. In Popcorn Venus Majorie Rosen argues that “the birth of the movies coincided with—and hastened—the genesis of the modern woman.” But the modern woman, as portrayed by Hollywood, rarely differed in her essential characteristics from the old fashioned one. The film industry created and consolidated a vivid image of women which limited them to a few roles even as it endowed some of them with a hitherto unknown glamour. The silent movies dealt in readily recognisable icons rather than complex political treatises. As Victorian morality plays they presented women in a few roles: the vamp, the virgin, and the mother protecting her young. Minority women’s roles were limited to servant parts. Career women were a rarity although spunky women abounded. Early movie heroines such as Mary Pickford were unthreatening child women rather than complex characters.
Before Hollywood’s own conventions rigidified there were some women scriptwriters and a few directors, but the expansion of women’s roles was, according to Molly Haskell, more social than political. The new morality of these films consisted of “a vicarious splurge for women who wanted to look and feel daring without actually doing anything, who wanted to shock the world by coming home after midnight—but no later.” Few films showed any awareness of women in a wide range of roles or, despite the battles raging over suffrage, as political, social, or economic equals. Even when women starred in the movies they rarely had control over them. Thus the mass media constrained rather than expanded women’s sphere. Like the women of this era, Hollywood heroines had star billing but decidely circumscribed roles. They moved to the fore of one part of the stage, but gender circumscribed their parts in the movies, at home, in the labour force, in politics, and in society generally.
This era closed with more women in the labour force, but still severely constrained by gendered assumptions about what jobs women could do. Family sizes had fallen, but home and domesticity continued to be women’s primary focus. Women achieved suffrage, but were not fully incorporated into politics. After 100 years of political and social activism women had acquired a legitimate public voice, but did not yet know how to use it to their fullest advantage. For all the campaigns of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries women’s lives were still strongly controlled by social assumptions about appropriate activities rather than by individual talents or interests. They had obtained the vote, but equality was yet to come.
Given the incredible proliferation of scholarship on women in the last decade it is impossible to do more than scratch the surface of the available material. I have tried to avoid repeating the works cited in the footnotes in order to cover more material.
General histories of women in the United States between 1820 and 1920 include Catherine Clinton, The Other Civil War. American Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York; Hill and Wang, 1984), Carl Degler, At Odds. Women and-the Family in America from the Revolution to the Present (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), Gerda Lerner, The Majority Finds its Past. Placing Women in History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), Anne Firor Scott, Making the Invisible Woman Visible (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984) and Carroll SmithRosenberg, Disorderly Conduct. Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985).
Biographical and bibliographical sources include: Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, and Paul S. Boyer, Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1971); and Cynthia E. Harrison, Anne Firor Scott, Pamela R. Byrne, Women in American History: A Bibliography (Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio Press, 1979). Individual biographies illuminate the way in which particular women constructed their lives with regard to or in spite of gender constraints. In addition to biographies of feminist leaders and reformers, those of women pathbreakers in the professions provide insights into daily life, obstacles, defeat, triumph, and coping.
Studies limited chronologically to the beginning of the era covered here include Linda K. Kerber, Women of the Republic. Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood. “Women’s Sphere” in New England, 1780-1835 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1977), Linda Grant DePauw, Founding Mothers: Women in the Revolutionary Era (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1975) and Mary Beth Norton; Liberty’s Daughters: The Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800. (Boston: Little Brown, 1980). Marylynn Salmon, Women and the Laze: of Property in Early America (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1986). Mary P. Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) examines a slightly later period.
Writings about domesticity and feminine culture include Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977) Barbara Leslie Epstein, The Politics ofDomesticity. Women, Evangelism and Temperance in Nineteenth Century America (Middletown, Corm.: Wesleyan University Press, 1981), and Mary P. Ryan, The Empire of the Mother: American Writing about Domesticity, 1800 to 1860 (New York: Institute for Historical Research and Haworth Press, 1982). Ellen Carol Dubois, MariJo Buhle, Temma Kaplan, Gerda Lerner and Carroll Smith—Rosenberg, “Politics and Culture in Women’s History: A Symposium” (Feminist ,Studies 6,1 (Spring, 1980), pp.26-64 explores the connection between domesticity and politics. Mary Kelley, Private Lives, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in.Yineteenth Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984) also discusses the ideology and expression of domesticity.
General works on women’s writing include Nina Baym, Women’s Fiction. A Guide to Novels by and about Women in America, 1820-1870 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978), Patricia Stubbs, Women and Fiction. Feminism and the ,,Vovel, 1880-1920 (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1979), Judith Fryer, The Faces of Eve. Women in the .Nineteenth Century American Novel (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976) and Sally Allen MeNall, Who Is In the House. A Psychological ,Study of Two Centuries of Women’s Fiction in America, 1795 to the Present (New York: Elsevier, 1981). Carole McAlpine Watson, Prologue. The,Yovels of Black American Women, 1891-1965 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), Kristin Herzog, Women, Ethnics, and Exotics. Images of Power in Mid-Nineteenth Century Fiction (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983), Susan J. Rosowski and Helen Winter Stauffer, Women and Western American Literature (Troy: N.Y. Whitson Publishing Co., 1982), and Anne Goodwyn Jones, Tomorrow is Another Day. The Women Writer in the South, 1859-1936 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1981) all present specialised regional and ethnic studies of women writers.
Books on women in the South include Suzanne Lebsock, The Free Women of Petersburg. Status and Culture in a ,Southern Town, 1784-1860 (New Year: Norton, 1984), jean Friedman, et al, Sex, Race and the Role of Women in the South (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1983), Anne Firor Scott, The Southern Lady from Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago, Press, 1970), Elizabeth Massey, Bonnet Brigades (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966), Bell Irvin Wiley, Confederate Women (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1975), Catherine Clinton, The Plantation Mistress: Women’s World in the Old South (New York: Pantheon, 1982).
Many of the books on black women also examine women’s lives in the south since most black women until the end of the nineteenth century lived south of the Mason Dixon Line. Elizabeth FoxGenovese, Within the Plantation Household: Black and White Women of the Old South (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1988) illuminates class, gender, and race relations primarily in the south, but also in the ante-bellum United States generally. Other works include: Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters: Black Women in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Norton, 1984), Paula Giddings, When and Where I Enter. The Impact o f Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York: Morrow, 1984), Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work and the Family from Slavery to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1985), and Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith, All the Women Are White and All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave. Black Women’s Studies (Old Westbury: N.Y., Feminist Press, 1982). Gerda Lerner edited a wide-ranging collection of black women’s writings in Black Women in White America (New York: Pantheon, 1972). Bert James Lowenberg and Ruth Bogin, Black Women in Nineteenth Century American Life. Their Words, Their Thoughts, Their Feelings (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1976) covers a narrower chronological span. Trudie Harris, From Mammies to Militants. Domestics in Black American Literature (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982) and Judith Rollins, Between Women. Domestics and Their Employers (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1985) overlap somewhat in their focus.
Studies of women in the west tend to focus on how women responded to the westward journey and pioneer life. Typical of this approach are Julie Roy Jeffrey, Frontier Women. The Trans-Mississippi West, 18401880 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1979), John Mack Faragher, Women and Men on the Overland Trail (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979) and Sandra L. Myers, Westering Women and the Frontier Experience, 1800-1915 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982). Faragher’s ,Sugar Creek. Life on the Illinois Prairie (New Haven, Conn.: 1986) is a finely textured study of Native and Anglo-Americans and the community which developed when the whites moved into Central Illinois. He examines women’s work, and political and cultural roles. Lillian Schliessel has edited women’s diaries in Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey (New York: Schocken Books, 1982) which lets readers determine for themselves how women felt about moving west. Christine Fischer (ed.), Let Them Speak for Themselves. Women in the American West 1849-1900 (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1977) takes a similar approach. Joan Jensen in Loosening the Bonds. Mid-Atlantic Farm Women, 1750-1850 (New Haven, Conn.: 1986) and With These Hands. Women Working on the Land (Old Westbury, N.Y.: Feminist Press, 1981) considers the work done by rural women for their families and for market. Susan Armitage and Elizabeth Jameson, The Women’s West (University of Oklahoma Press, 1987) and Glenda Riley, Women and Indians on the Frontier, 1825-1915 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984) examine an underexplored area of scholarship.
There are many studies of the origins of feminism. Nancy Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1987), Barbara J. Berg, The Remembered Gate. The Origins of American Feminism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), Bell Hooks, “Ain’t 1 a Woman?” Black Women and Feminism (Boston: South End Press, 1981), and Keith Melder, Beginnings of Sisterhood. American Woman’s Rights Movement, 1800-1850 (New York: Schocken Books, 1977) all examine feminism and women’s rights. Ellen Carol DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage. The Emergence of an Independent Women’s Movement in America, 1848-1869 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978), Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle. The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959), Aileen S. Kraditor, The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 18901920 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965), and Anne Firor Scott and Andrew M. Scott, One Half the People. The Fight for Woman Suffrage (Philadelphia: L1ippincott, 1975) all focus upon the development of the women’s rights movement and the fight for the vote. Abigail Scott Duniway, Pathbreaking. An Autobiographical History of the Equal Suffrage Movement in the Pacific Coast States (New York: Source Book Press, 1970) and Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Shiner, Woman Suffrage and Politics (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1926) provide eye witness accounts of the fight for the vote.
Other studies of women political crusaders include Blanche Glassman Hersh, The Slavery of Sex. Feminist Abolitionists in America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978), Alma Lutz, Crusade for Freedom. Women and the Antislavery Movement (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968), Alan P. Grimes, The Puritan Ethic and Woman Suffrage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967); Jack S. Blocker, “Give to the Winds Thy Fears”. The Women’s Temperance Crusade (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), and Ruth Birgitta Anderson, Woman and Temperance. The Quest for Power and Liberty, 1873-1900 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981).
The general topic of women and reform includes sexual, social, economic, and educational reform. Readers are directed to the following investigations. Estelle B. Freedman, Their Sisters’ Keepers: Women’s Prison Reform in American, 1830-1930 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1981), Barbara Kuhn Campbell, The “Liberated” Woman of 1914. Prominent Women in the Progressive Era (Ann Arbor, Mi.: UMI Research Press, 1979) Kathryn Kish Sklar, Catherine Beecher. A Study in American Domesticity (New York: W. W. Norton, 1973), Linda Gordon, Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right. A .Social History of Birth Control in America (New York: 1976), Mari Jo Buhle, Women and American Socialism, 1970-1920 (Urbana: University of Illinois Books, 1981), Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914(New York, Holmes and Meier, 1980), and Barbara Solomon, In the Company of Educated Women. A History of Women and Higher Education in America (New Haven, Corm.: Yale University Press, 1985).
The relationship between women and their families are the subject of Carl Degler, At Odds (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), Herbert Gutman, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom (New York, Pantheon, 1976), S. J. Kleinberg, The Shadow of the Mills. Working Class Families in Pittsburgh, 1870-1907 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989), Virginia Yans McLaughlin, Family and Community: Italian Immigrants in Buffalo, 1880-1930 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977), and Jacqueline Jones, Labour of Love, Labour of Sorrow. Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present (New York: Basic Books, 1985). Elizabeth Pleck, Domestic Tyranny: The Making of American Social Policy against Family Violence from Colonial Times to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987) and Linda Gordon, Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence (London, Virago Press, 1989) discuss the difficult subject of wife and child abuse.
Almost all of the titles mentioned in the preceeding paragraph also contain material on women’s work inside and outside the home. There are many specialised analyses of women in the labour force, one of the best being Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to Work. A History of Wage-Earning Women in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). Milton Cantor and Bruce Laurie (eds.), Class, Sex, and the Women Worker (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977) contains valuable articles. Mary H. Blewett, Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender, and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988); Susan Porter Benson, Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores, 18901.940 (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1988); Joanne J. Meyerowitz, Women Adrift: Independent Wage Earners in Chicago, 18801930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988); Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1986); Margery N. Davies, Woman’s Place is at the Typewriter. Office Work and Office Workers, 1870-1930 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982) and David M. Katzman, Seven Days a Week. Women and Domestic Service in Industrialising America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978) explore modern and nonmodern occupations in this era. Susan Estabrook Kennedy, If All We Did Was to Weep at Home. A History of White Working Class Women in America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979), Sarah Eisenstein, Give (Is Bread but Give Las Roses, Too. Working Women’s Consciousness in the United States, 1890 to the First World War (London, Routnedge & Kegan Paul, 1983), and Maurine Weiner Greenwald, Women, War and Work. The Impact of World War 1 on Women Workers in the United States (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980) look at the way in which women’s employment and women’s consciousness developed.
Hollywood has been the subject of numerous studies. Two are particularly relevant: Marjorie Rosen, Popcorn Venus (London: 1975) and Molly Haskell, From Reverence to Rape. The Treatment of Women in the Movies (London: Penguin Books, 1974). Marguerite Ickis, The Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting (New York: Dover Publications, 1959) and Patricia Mainardi “(wilts: the Great American Art” (Radical America, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1973) both discuss this women’s art form but from very different perspectives. Gladys-Marie Fry, Stitched from the Soul: Quilting in the Ante-Bellum South (New York: Dutton, 1989) discusses the quilts made by slaves.
- For an overview of the debate into what is history and women’s place within it see “AHR Forum” in American Historical Review, 94 (June, 1989), pp.581-698. Back
- Berenice A. Carroll, Liberating Women’s History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1976), p.89. Back
- Gerda Lerner, “Placing Women in History: Definitions and Challenges” Feminist Studies, 3 (1975), pp.5-15. Back
- Carl Degler, “In Pursuit of an American Dream”, American Historical Review, 92 (1987), pp. 1-2. Joan Wallach Scott, “History in Crisis? The Others’ Side of the Story”, American Historical Review, 94 (1989), pp.689-90. Back
- For an overview of economic change as it affected women in this era see S. J. Kleinberg, “Women in the Economy of the United States from the American Revolution to 1920” in S. J. Kleinberg (ed.), Retrieving Women’s History: Changing Perceptions of the Role of Women in Politics and Society (Oxford: Berg/Unesco, 1988). Back
- Nancy Cott, Bonds of Womanhood: Woman’s Sphere in New England, 17801835 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1977), pp.5-6. Paula Baker, “The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920” American Historical Review, 89 (1984), pp.620-647. Back
- Mary Beth Norton, “The Evolution of White Women’s Experience in Early America”, American Historical Review, 89 (1984), pp.593-619. Back
- For contemporary women’s own words on the subject see Aileen S. Kraditor, Up From the Pedestal: Landmark Writings in the American Woman’s .Struggle for Equality (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1968). Back
- Linda K. Kerber, II’omen of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. l 1-12. Back
- Barbara Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood” American Quarterly XVIII, (1966), pp.151-76. Back
- Ruth H. Bloch, “American Feminine Ideals in Transition: The Rise of the Moral Mother, 1785-1815” Feminist ,Studies 4 (1978) pp.101-126. Back
- Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Within the Plantation Household (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1988), pp.78-79. Back
- Ellen DuBois, “The Radicalization of the Woman Suffrage Movement”, Feminist Studies 3 (1975), p.65. Back
- Ruth H. Bloch, “The Gendered Meaning of Virtue in Revolutionary America”, Signs 13 (1987), p.57. Back
- Charles W. Akers, Abigail Adams. An American fVornan (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980), pp.43-45. Back
- Mary Beth Norton, Liberty’s Daughters: the Revolutionary Experience of American Women, 1750-1800 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1980). Elaine F. Crane, “Dependence in the Era of Independence: The Role of Women in a Republican Society” in Jack P. Greene (ed.), The American Revolution: Its Character and Its Limits (New York: New York University Press, 1987). Back
- Laurel T. Ulrich, “A Friendly Neighbor: Social Dimensions of Daily Work in Northern New England” Feminist Studies 6 (1980), pp.392-405. Claudia A. Goldin, “The Economic Status of Women in the Early Republic: Quantitative Evidence”, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 16 (1986), pp.375-404. Back
- Daniel Blake Smith, “The Study of the Family in Early America: Trends, Problems, and Prospects” William and Mary Quarterly 3rd Ser. 39 (1982), pp.3-28 provides an excellent overview of woman’s status within the family and family economy. Back
- Baird Diary quoted in Marjorie Kreidberg, Food on the Frontier. Minnesota Cooking from 1850-1900 with Selected Recipes. (St. Paul, Minn: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1975) p.121. Back
- Suzanne Lebsock, The Free Women of Petersburg: Status and Culture in a Southern Town, 1784-1860 (New York: Norton, 1983), p.153. Back
- Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping: Tried and Approved, Original Recipes (Marysville, Ohio, 1881), p.454. Back
- Julie Roy Jeffrey, Frontier Women: The Trans—Mississippi (Vest, 1840-1880 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1979); John Mack Faragher, Women and Men on the Overland Trail (New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press 1979), and John Mack Faragher, Sugar Creek (New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1987) discuss women’s willingness to migrate. Eveline M. Alexander, Cavalry Wife Edited with an Introduction by Sandra L. Myres. (College Station, Texas: Texas A & M University Press, 1977). Back
- Edward A. Abramson, The Immigrant Experience in American Literature (British Association for American Studies, 1982) pp. 14-16 for a discussion of Cather’s writing. Vera Norwood and Janice Monk, (eds.), The Desert Is .No Lady: Southwestern Landscapes in Women’s IVriting and Art (New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 1987). Back
- Nancy Grey Osterud, “‘She Helped Me Hay It as Good as a Man’ Relations among Women and Men in an Agricultural Community” in Carol Groneman and Mary Beth Norton, To Toil the Livelong Day: America’s Women at Work, 1780-1980 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1987), pp.87-97. Back
- Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans Edited with an introduction by Donald Smalley (New York: Vintage, 1949), p.416. Back
- Patricia Mainardi, “Quilts: The Great American Art”, Radical America, 7 (1973), pp.36-68. Mainardi also discusses Navajo women’s blankets and pays particular attention to black women’s quilting. Gladys-Marie Fry, Stitched from the Soul: Quilting in the Ante-Bellum South (New York: Dutton, 1989). Back
- Edith Abbott, Women in Industry (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1910), p.90. Back
- Mary Blewett, “The Sexual Division of Labor and the Artisan Tradition in Early Industrial Capitalism: The Case of New England Shoemaking, 1780-1860” in Groneman and Norton, p.34. Back
- Lucy Larcom, A New England Girlhood (New York: Corinth Books, 1961). Back
- Thomas Dublin, Women at Work: The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts 1826-1860 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979), pp.108-131. Back
- Carole Turbin, “Beyond Conventional Wisdom: Women’s Wage Work, Household Economic Contribution, and Labour Activism in a MidNineteenth-Century Community” in Groneman and Norton, pp.47-67. Back
- Dorothy Sterling, We Are Your Sisters. Black Women in the.Vineteenth Century. (New York: Norton, 1984), p.13. Back
- Jacqueline Bernard, 7ourney Toward Freedom. The Story of ,Sojourner Truth (New York: Dell, 1967), p.178. Back
- Fox-Genovese, p.97. Ben Ames Williams, A Diary from Dixie by Mary Boykin Chesnut (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1949, orig. 1905). Bell Irvin Wiley, Confederate Women (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1975), pp. 6,31. Back
- David Katzman, Seven Days a Week: Women and Domestic Service in Industrializing America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978). Back
- Judith Sargent Murray, “Equality of the Sexes” Massachusetts Magazine March-April, 1790, pp. 132 ff. Back
- Kenneth Lockridge, Literacy in Colonial New England: An Inquiry into the Social Context in the Early Modern West (New York, 1974), pp.38-44. Back
- Linda K. Kerber, Women of the Republic, Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America (Chapel Hill, N. C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), pp.199-200. Back
- Larcom, pp.42-44. Back
- Barbara Miller Solomon, In the Company of Educated Women. A History of Women and Higher Education in America (New Haven, Conn., 1985). Back
- Quoted in Nancy Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood, p.91. Back
- Katheryn Kish Sklar, Catherine Beecher. A Study in American Domesticity (New York: Norton, 1973), pp. 113, 137. Also see Jeanne Boydston, Mary Kelley, and Anne Margolis, The Limits of Sisterhood: The Beecher Sisters on Women’s Rights and Woman’s Sphere (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1988). Back
- Leslie Wheeler, Loving Warriors. Selected Letters of Lucy Stone and Henry B. Blackwell, 1853 to 1893 (New York: Dial Press, 1981), p.10. Back
- Susan M. Reverby, Ordered to Care. The Dilemma of American .Nursing, 1850-1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p.43. Interview with Frances Krantz Kleinberg, Registered Nurse. My mother trained as a nurse at the Hartford Hospital Training School in the early 1930s, when such restrictive conditions still applied. Back
- The Journal of Charlotte L. Forten. Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Ray Allen Billington. (London: Collier, 1969), p.148. Back
- Sally Allen McNall, Who Is In the House? A Psychological Study of Two Centuries of Women’s Fiction in America (New York: Elsevier, 1981). Mary Kelley, Private Women, PublicStage. Literary Domesticity in, Vineteenth—Century America. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984). Back
- Mary P. Ryan, The Empire of the Mother. American Writing About Domesticity (New York: Institute for Research in History and Haworth Press, 1982), p.120. Back
- Daniel Scott Smith, “Family Limitation, Sexual Control and Domestic Feminism” in Nancy F. Cott and Elizabeth H. Pleck, A Heritage of Her Own (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), pp. 238, 239. Back
- Quoted in Cott, Bonds of Womanhood, p.91. Back
- Quoted in Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood”, p.153. Back
- Nancy Hewitt, “Feminist Friends: Agrarian Quakers and the Emergence of Women’s Rights in America” Feminist .Studies 12 (1986), pp.27-50. Back
- Barbara Epstein, The Politics of Domesticity: Women, Evangelism and Temperance in Nineteenth Century America (Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press, 1981), pp.45-59. Cott, Bonds of Womanhood, pp.126-159. Back
- Jill Conway, The Female Experience in Eighteenth and .Yineteenth Century America: A Guide to the History of American Women (New York: Garland Press, 1982), p.165. Anne Firor Scott, The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), p.8. Back
- Louis Billington, “Female Labourers in the Church: Women Preachers in the Northeastern United States, 1740-1840”, Journal of American Studies, 19 (1985), pp.369-394. Back
- Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavine Fielding Anderson (eds.), Sisters in Spirit: Mormon Women in Historical and Cultural Perspective (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1987). Back
- Ryan, Empire of the Mother, pp.56, 72. Back
- Barbara Berg, Remembered Gate: The Origins of American Feminism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 58 p.151. Page Putnam Miller, “Women in the Vanguard of the Sunday School Movement” Journal of Presbyterian History 1980 58 (4), pp.311-25. Back
- Keith Melder, “Ladies Bountiful: Organized Women’s Benevolence in Nineteenth Century America”, New York Historian 32 (1970), pp.210-227. Back
- Epstein, p.89-90 discusses the origins of women’s temperance activities. D. C. Bloomer, The Life and Writings of Ameba Bloomer, edited with a new introduction by S. J. Kleinberg, (New York: Schocken Press, 1975), p.42. Back
- Robert Riegel, “Women’s Clothes and Women’s Rights”, American Quarterly 15 (1963), pp.391-399. Back
- Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Boston, 1852) p.44. Minrose C. Gwin, Black and White Women of the Old South. The Peculiar Sisterhood in American Literature (Knoxville, Tenn: University of Tennessee Press, 1985), p.32. Ryan, The Empire of the Mother, pp.132-139. Back
- Blanche Hersh, The Slavery of Sex. Feminist Abolitionists in America (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1978), Ch. 4. Back
- For the entire text of the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls Convention, 1848 see Kraditor, Up from the Pedestal, pp.183188. Gerda Lerner, The Crimke Sisters from South Carolina. Rebels Against Slavery (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1967); Anne Firor Scott, “Women’s Perspective on the Patriarchy in the 1850s”, Journal ofAmerican History LXI (1) June, 1974, p.55. Back
- Mabel Newcomer, A Century of Higher Education for American Women (New York: Harper, 1959), p.37. Back
- Mary Roth Walsh, Doctors Wanted: No Women Need Apply. (New Haven, Corm: Pale University Press, 1977), pp.191-193. Back
- Joseph A. Hill, Statistics of Women at Work, 1900, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1906) and Women in Gainful Occupations, 1870-1920, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1929). All statistical data are drawn from these sources. Back
- Roslyn L. Feldberg and Evelyn Nakano Glenn, “Male and Female: Job versus Gender Models in the Sociology of Work” in Rachel Kahn-Hut, Arlene Kaplan Daniels, and Richard Colvard (eds.), Women and Work: Problems and Perspectives (New York, 1982), pp.65-80. Back
- Elizabeth Pleck, “A Mother’s Wage: Income Earning Among Married Italian and Black Women, 1896-1911” in Cott and Pleck, A Heritage of Her Own. Virginia Yans McLaughlin, Family and Community: Italian Immigrants in Buffalo, 1880-1930 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977). S. J. Kleinberg, The Shadow of the Mills, Working Class Families in Pittsburgh, 1870-1907, Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989) discusses the impact of economic structures on women’s employment. Back
- Susan Porter Benson, Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers, and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1940, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988). Back
- Alice Kessler-Harris, Out to I1 ork. A History of hVage-Earning Women in the United States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). Leslie Woodcock Tender, Il age-Earning Women: Industrial Work and Family Life in the United States, 1900-1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). Roger Waldinger, “Another Look at the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union” in Ruth Milkman, ed., Women, Work and Protest, (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985). For an illuminating examination of the working class woman’s attitudes towards female employment see Maurine Weiner Greenwald, “Working Class Feminism and the Family Wage Ideal; The Seattle Debate on Married Women’s Right to Work, 1914-1920”, Journal of American History 76 (1989), pp.118-149. Back
- Nancy Schrom Dye, As Equals and As Sisters: Feminism, Unionism, and the Women’s Trade Union League of New York (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1980). Back
- Susan Lehrer, Origins of Protective Labor Legislation for Women, 1905-1925 (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 1987). Leo Kanowitz, Sex Roles in Law and Society. Cases and Materials (Albuqueque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 1973), pp.47, 467. Also see Judith A. Baer, The Chains of Protection: The Judicial Response to Women’s Labor Legislation. (Westport., Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978). Back
- Nancy Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism (New Haven, Corm.: Yale University Press, 1987). Also see Ellen Carol DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage. The Emergence of an Independent Women’s Movement in America, 1848-1869 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1978). Back
- This account of the WCTU is drawn largely from Epstein, The Politics of Domesticity, pp.99-120; Jack S. Blocker, “Give to the Winds Thy Fears:” The Women’s Temperance Crusade (Westport, Corm.: Greenwood Press, 1985) and S. J. Kleinberg, “The Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Back
- Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania”, (Unpublished paper, University of Pittsburgh Department of History, 1970). Back
- On the club movement see Karen J. Blair, The Clubmoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 (New York: Holmes and Meter, 1980). Back
- Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States (New York, 1974), p.190. Back
- For a complete review of the changing nature of family law see Michael Grossberg, Governing the Hearth. Lazes and the Family in Nineteenth Century America (Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1985). Nancy Cott, The Grounding of Modern Feminism, p.24. Back
- Kathryn Kish Sklar, “Hull House in the 1890s: A Community of Women Reformers”, Signs 10 (1985), pp.658-677. Back
- Jane Addams, “Why Women Should Vote” Ladies’ Home Journal XXVII (January, 1910, pp.21-22). Back
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Home, Its Work and Influence (New York: McClure, Philips and Co., 1903), p.319. Back
- Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle, p.282. Back
- Maurine Greenwald, Women, War and Work: The Impact of World WarIon Women Workers in the United States (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980). Back
- Carrie Chapman Catt and Nettie Rogers Schuler, Woman Suffrage and Politics. The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement (Seattle, University of Washington Press, 1970, orig., 1923), p.446. Back
- Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson: War and Peace I, pp.263-7. Back
- Flexner, pp.306-24. Back
- Cott, Grounding of Modern Feminism, pp.100-111. Anne Firor Scott, “After Suffrage: Southern Women in the Twenties”, The Journal of Southern History 30 (1964), pp.298-318 takes a more sanguine view of the impact of the vote on women’s political participation. Back
- Marjorie Rosen, Popcorn Venus: Women, Mollies and the American Dream (New York, 1974), p.23. Back
- Molly Haskell, From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies (London, Penguin Books, 1974), p.76. Back