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by Maureen Flanagan
Department of History
Michigan State University
Until recently women rarely appeared in political history of the Gilded Age/Progressive Era. Although some women received the vote through state suffrage laws, women could not vote in all states, in all types of elections, until the Federal Suffrage Amendment of 1920 granted universal female suffrage. Since much political history examined politicians, presidents, and parties, women could not fit into the general framework used to study politics and political history.
Early work on women and politics for the GA/PE concentrated on the woman suffrage movement, and, rather than having a primary political focus, it saw the movement as part of the overall women's rights movement in the U.S. Standard earlier works in this vein include Kraditor, The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, relevant chapters in Flexner, Century of Struggle and Scott, The Southern Lady. These works, as well as much of the new bibliography on women and politics expose how much of our historical periodization has been shaped by male experience. Many of the works cited here consider more than the GA/PE, because women's politics of that time period was clearly connected to those eras which preceded and followed and cannot be severed from them. I have, however, in this bibliography included only works that give sufficient detail on the GA/PE.
As historians of women expanded the realm of historical inquiry to include women generally, they rejected the set agenda of political history and argued for a reconceptualization of politics to break down the distinction between the public world of male politics and the private world of the largely female home. Seeing the supposedly "private" social/cultural concerns of women as "political" and "public," using gender theory, public sphere theory, and responding to the idea that the personal is the political, scholars have focused on exploring a gendered women's political culture. These include Baker, "The Domestication of Politics" and The Moral Frameworks of Public Life; McGerr, "Political Style and Women's Power; Boris, "The Power of Motherhood: Black and White Activist Women Redefine the `Political'"; Higgenbotham, Righteous Discontent; and Sklar, Florence Kelley and the Nation's Work and "Two Political Cultures in the Progressive Era".
Making the personal political, however, at times led to neglecting the structures and institutions of politics. But women in the GA/PE attempted to enter this political world, and, the institutions and structures already in place affected women's political possibilities. So, scholars of women and politics have also been producing work that places the social categories of gender and race at the center of explaining women's political experiences, possibilities and ideas, but does so within the institutional and structural elements of politics.
Race and gender shaped African-American women's political possibilities in the time period, but also contributed to shaping the political institutions. See Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, and Hendricks, "Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago" and "The Politics of Race: Black Women in Illinois".
Ideas about gender also shaped participation on specific political issues in progressive-era municipal politics. (Ethington, "Recasting Urban Political History: Gender, the Public, the Household, and Political Participation"); the urban political agendas adopted by women (Flanagan, "Gender and Urban Political Reform" and "The City Profitable, the City Livable: Environmental Policy, Gender, and Power"); and the political choices made by specific urban women (Mason, "Testing the Boundaries: Women, Politics, Gender").
Sapiro, "Women, Citizenship, and Nationality," considers how gendered notions of citizenship shaped laws that in turn affected women's political lives. Kennedy, "Loyalty and Citizenship," connects citizenship issues and suffrage.
McDonagh, "The Significance of the 19th Amendment," and Flanagan, "The Predicament of New Rights," look at congressional voting and vote totals in local elections respectively to explore the existence of a political gender gap as early as the Progressive Era, while Evans, "Women's History and Political Theory," examines how women's political development in the late 19th, early 20th centuries within women's voluntary organizations shaped their political futures along lines different from those of men.
Evans, "Women's History and Political Theory," and Lebsock, "Women and American Politics, 1880-1920," suggest new directions for exploring women and politics that will draw together the political and the social/cultural. Evans especially emphasizes the need to apply political theory to studying women and politics.
Paying attention to the institutional components of politics, several scholars have investigated women's early electoral behavior to undercover how women actually voted, but also to understand how the structures of politics shaped and limited women's political possibilities even with suffrage.
Monoson, "The Lady and the Tiger: Women's Electoral Activism in New York City," and Flanagan, "Gender and Urban Political Reform," both take the position that even without the vote, by promoting and campaigning for specific municipal policies, women participated in politics.
Illinois kept vote totals separate by gender from 1913 and 1921 and Goldstein, The Effects of the Adoption of Woman Suffrage, is a statistical analysis of voter registration and voting patterns by gender for the state.
Women's political choices, their attempts to wield political power, and their relationship to party politics are considered in Cott, "Across the Great Divide"; Flanagan, "The Predicament of New Rights"; Perry, "Women's Political Choices after Suffrage" and Belle Moskowitz; Harvey, "The Political Consequences of Suffrage Exclusion." Little work has yet been done on women politicians whose careers began in the PE to show how they moved from political activism to running for office. One quite useful source for this is Miller, Ruth Hanna McCormick. Several new dissertations investigate themes of women's relationship to partisan politics and to reshaping politics. Edwards, "Gender in American Politics"; Gustafson, "Partisan Women"; Katz, "Dual Commitments: Feminism, Socialism, and Women's Political Activism," and Wilkerson-Freeman, "Women and the Transformation of American Politics."
Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers, is the most comprehensive source for examining women's relationship to the political structures within which social policy formation took place across the GA/PE. Muncy, "Gender and Professionalization in the Origins of the U.S. Welfare State" captures essential differences between the male and female "professionals" engaged in formulating new policy, Flanagan, "The City Profitable, the City Livable," makes this comparison for urban environmentalism, while Sklar, "Two Political Cultures," compares two important PE organizations.
Renewed interest in the suffrage movement from the perspective of politics has also revitalized the bibliography. For work on female anti-suffragists see Green, "Those Opposed," and Thurner, "Better Citizens without the Ballot"; for examinations of local suffrage movements, Buechler, The Transformation of the Woman Suffrage Movement; Wheeler, "Conflict in the Illinois Woman Suffrage Movement"; Graham, "Women Suffrage in Virginia"; and Spruill Wheeler, New Women of the New South; for class, race and ethnicity in the movement, see DuBois, "Working Women, Class Relations, and Suffrage Militance"; Terborg-Penn, "Discontented Black Feminists"; Lerner, "Jewish Involvement in the New York City Woman Suffrage Movement"; for the latest work on the national movement, see all the essays in Spruill Wheeler, ed., One Woman, One Vote; and for the National Woman's Party, see Ford, Iron-Jawed Angels.
Finally, recent anthologies, edited by Tilly and Gurin, Lebsock and Hewitt, Kerber, Kessler-Harris and Sklar, and Koven and Michel contain several essays listed here, but others that may also be of interest for women and politics generally, if not specifically for the GA/PE. Bibliography
Baker, Paula. "The Domestication of Politics: Women and American Political Society, 1780-1920,: American Historical Review ( (June 1984): 620-47 and The Moral Frameworks of Public Life: Gender, Politics, and the State in Rural New York, 1870- 1930 (1991)
Buechler, Stephen M. The Transformation of the Woman Suffrage Movement, The Case of Illinois, 1850-1920 (1986)
Boris, Eileen. "The Power of Motherhood: Black and White Activist Women Redefine the `Political,'" in Koven and Michel, 213-45
Cott, Nancy. "Across the Great Divide: Women in Politics Before and After Suffrage," in Tilly and Gurin, 43-68
DuBois, Ellen C. "Working Women, Class Relations, and Suffrage Militance: Harriot Stanton Blatch and the New York Woman Suffrage Movement, 1894-1909," Journal of American History (June 1987): 34-58
Edwards, Rebecca. "Gender in American Politics, 1880-1900" (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia, 1995)
Ethington, Philip J. "Recasting Urban Political History: Gender, the Public, the Household, and Political Participation in Boston and San Francisco during the Progressive Era, Social Science History (Summer 1992): 301-33
Evans, Sara M. "Women's History and Political Theory: Toward a Feminist Approach to Public Life," in Lebsock and Hewitt, 119- 39
Flanagan, Maureen A. "Gender and Urban Political Reform: The City Club and the Woman's City Club of Chicago in the Progressive Era," American Historical Review (October 1990):1032-50; "The City Profitable, the City Livable: Environmental Policy, Gender, and Power in Chicago in the 1910s, Journal of Urban History (January 1996): 163-90; and "The Predicament of New Rights: Suffrage and Women's Political Power from a Local Perspective," Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society (Fall 1995): 305-30
Flexner, Eleanor. Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States (1959; revised edition, 1996)
Ford, Linda. Iron-Jawed Angels: The Suffrage Militancy of the National Woman's Party, 1912-1920 (1991)
Gilmore, Glenda E. Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (1996)
Goldstein, Joel. The Effects of the Adoption of Woman Suffrage: Sex Differences in Voting Behavior -- Illinois, 1914-21 (1984)
Graham, Sara. "Women Suffrage in Virginia: The Equal Suffrage League and Pressure-Group Politics, 1909-1920," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (April 1993)
Green, Elna. "Those Opposed: The Anti-Suffragists in North Carolina, 1900-1920," North Carolina Historical Review (July 1990): 315-33
Gustafson, Melanie. "Partisan Women: Gender, Politics, and the Progressive Party of 1912" (Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University, 1993)
Harvey, Anna L. "The Pol Consequences of Suffrage Exclusion: Organizations, Institutions, and the Electoral Mobilization of Women," Social Science History (Spring 1996): 99-132
Hendricks, Wanda. "Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago," in Spruill Wheeler, ed.: 263-76 and "The Politics of Race: Black Women in Illinois, 1890-1920" (Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University, 1990)
Higgenbotham, Evelyn Brooks. Righteous Discontent: The Woman's Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880-1920 (1993)
Katz, Sherry. "Dual Commitments: Feminism, Socialism, and Women's Political Activism in California, 1890-1920" (Ph.D. UCLA, 1991)
Kennedy, Kathleen. "Loyalty and Citizenship in the Wisconsin Women's Suffrage Movement, 1917-1919," Mid-America (1994): 109-32
Kerber, Linda, Kessler-Harris, Alice, and Sklar, eds., U.S. History as Women's History (1995)
Koven, Seth, and Michel, Sonya Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (1993)
Kraditor, Aileen. The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890-1920 (1965)
Lebsock, Suzanne. "Women and American Politics, 1880-1920," in Tilly and Gurin, p. 35-62
Lebsock, Suzanne, and Hewitt, Nancy. Visible Women: New Essays on American Activism (1993)
Lerner, Elinor. "Jewish Involvement in the New York City Woman Suffrage Movement," American Jewish History (June 1981): 442-61
McDonagh, Eileen L. "The Significance of the Nineteenth Amendment: A New Look at Civil Rights, Social Welfare, and Woman Suffrage Alignments in the Progressive Era," Woman and Politics (1990): 59-94
McGerr, Michael. "Political Style and Women's Power, 1830- 1930," Journal of American History (December 1990): 864-85
Mason, Karen. "Testing the Boundaries: Women, Politics, and Gender Roles in Chicago, 1890-1930" (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan, 1991)
Miller, Kristie. Ruth Hanna McCormick: A Life in Politics, 1880-1944 (1992)
Monoson, Sara. "The Lady and the Tiger: Women's Electoral Activism in New York City before Suffrage," Journal of Women's History (Fall 1990): 100-35
Muncy, Robyn. "Gender and Professionalization in the Origins of the U.S. Welfare State: The Careers of Sophonisba Breckenridge and Edith Abbott, 1890-1935," Journal of Policy History (1990): 290-315
Perry, Elisabeth I. "Women's Political Choices after Suffrage: The Women's City Club of New York, 1915-1990," New York History (October 1990): 417-34, and Belle Moskowitz: Feminine Politics in the Age of Alfred E. Smith (1987)
Sapiro, Virginia. "Women, Citizenship, and Nationality: Immigration and Naturalization Policies in the United States," Politics and Society (1984): 1-26
Scott, Anne Firor. The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics 1830-1930 (1970)
Sklar, Kathryn Kish. Florence Kelley and the Nation's Work: The Rise of Women's Political Culture, 1830-1900 (1995), and "Two Political Cultures in the Progressive Era: The National Consumers' League and the American Association for Labor Legislation," in Kerber, Kessler-Harris, Sklar, eds., 36-62
Skocpol, Theda. Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (1992)
Spruill Wheeler, Marjorie. New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States (1993), and ed., One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Woman Suffrage Movement (1995)
Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn. "Discontented Black Feminists: Prelude and Postscript to the Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment," in Lois Scharf and Joan Jensen, Decades of Discontent: The Women's Movement, 1920-1940 (1983)
Thurner, Manuela. "Better Citizens Without the Ballot: American Antisuffrage Women and their Retionale during the Progressive Era," Journal of Women's History (Spring 1993): 33-61
Tilly, Louise, and Gurin, Patricia. Women, Politics, and Change (1990)
Wheeler, Adade. "Conflict in the Illinois Woman Suffrage Movement of 1913" Illinois State Historical Journal (1983): 95- 114
Wilkerson-Freeman, Sarah. "Women and the Transformation of Am Politics: North Carolina, 1898-1940" (Ph. D. Dissertation, University of North Carolina, 1995)
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