In 1848 a
group of men and women met at Seneca Falls, New York to address
the status of women. Throughout the century and a half since this
event, many other groups have gathered, formed and agitated for
improvement in the lives of over one half of the American population.
Responding to both overt and subtle inequalities as well as both
long-standing problems and new concerns, women (and men, at times)
have raised concerns about such disparate issues as job discrimination,
organized religion's view of women, abortion rights, gender stereotyping,
women's suffrage, sexual liberation, and protective legislation
for mothers. In this session we will focus on three periods of
women's rights activism: the 1840s and 50s, the years leading
up to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, and the emergence
of second wave feminism in the 1960s and 70s. For each, we will
explore the social, political and cultural contexts of the activism,
the goals and strategies of those pushing for change, and the
successes and failures of a various groups and tactics.
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from the following:
F. ed. No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United
States. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Rebels, and Witches," 86-98;
"An Era of Challenge," 131-148
"Prayer and Charity," 173-178;
"Women in Public," 214-223;
"The Politics of Resistance," 223-232;
"The Year of the Revolution," 232-236;
Chapter 5, 237- 251;
Chapter 6, 303-315, 339-352;
Chapter 7, 357-364, 385-412;
Chapter 8, 418- 425, 442-446, 465-472;
Chapter 10, ALL
Eleanor and Ellen Fitzpatrick. Century of Struggle: The Woman's
Rights Movement in the United States. Enlarged Edition.Cambridge,
MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996. (Note:
originally published in 1959, and revised in 1975. Eleanor Flexner
was sole author of original edition and revised edition)
1975" (Preface to the revised edition);
"The Seneca Falls Convention, 1848," 66-72 ;
"The Emergence of the Suffrage Movement," 136-148;
"The Unification of the Suffrage Movement," 208-
"New Life in the Federal Amendment, 1914-1916,"
"A Hard Won Victory, 1918-1920," 300-317;
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debate whether or not we can discuss women's activities before
the passage of the nineteenth amendment granting women the right
to vote as "political" work since women did not have
an official, legal voice in the government. Were women political
actors before 1920? Explain. In what ways were women able to shape
the political agenda before 1920?
2. Why did
advocates for women's right to vote change their arguments after
1890? Why did women win the right to vote in 1920?
as it does across seventy-five years (minimally) of American history,
the woman suffrage movement has been transformed by --and had
an impact on -- major changes in American history. Outline a history
of the woman suffrage movement that emphasizes these shifting,
large historical contexts: in particular, antebellum abolition
and reform; Reconstruction; turn of the century industrialization,
immigration and class relations; and the Progressive period.
4. To what
extent were there identifiably feminine concepts of citizenship
and nation in the pre- and post-suffrage political activism of
5. Most historians
agree that the "second wave" of the feminist movement
began in the 1960s. What happened before then to set the stage
for this development? To what extent was the movement shaped by
these earlier events? By developments in the 1960s and thereafter?
6. Do the
terms "first-wave" and "second-wave" feminism
describe significant differences in feminist political thought
and programs in the suffrage era and the 1970s?
7. Do women
"do" politics differently from men?
8. What did
late 19th and early 20th century women activists mean by "home"
and how did they understand its political significance?
9. Were the
strategies and tactics adopted by the militant suffragists productive
in advancing "the cause" (votes for women) in the United
10. To what
extent and in what ways did the ideal of motherhood influence
women's struggle for the vote and arguments for equal rights as
citizens? How was it understood and explained?
11. What efforts
were made by the organized women's movements to include working-class
women before the 1920s and how successful were they?
12. How much
interracial cooperation occurred among women in reform movements
of the early twentieth century? What issues brought them together?
What issues divided them? How did their goals differ?
13. Why did
women join the antisuffrage movement?
14. How did
the motivations and priorities of middle-class African-American
club women (1900-1920) in such organizations as the national Association
of Colored Women differ from those of their white counterparts?
15. What differences
are there between feminist aims that specify equality and independence
and those that specify liberation? What implications do these
differences have for political strategy and action?
16. What was
achieved by so-called second-wave feminism and what have been
the consequences for women at the end of the twentieth century?
17. Why did
a women's liberation movement emerge in the United States in the
late 1960s and 1970s? What did "liberation" mean?
18. The Civil
Rights Movement was in full flower by the mid-1950s, but more
than a decade passed before the Women's Movement emerged. Why
the long delay? Why did the women's movement emerge when it did?
19. What appeal
did New Right politics hold for women in the late 1970s and 1980s?
Why did such women oppose the Equal Rights Amendment?
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