May 29, 2011
Unit II: Women in the Progressive Era
During the decades between 1890s and 1920s there was a new age of reform there was so much reform activity that historians called this era the Progressive Era. During this time there were millions of Americans that were organized in association to many solutions to industrialization, urbanization, and immigration problems that brought about a new social reform order. In Unit Two, the Progressivism era emerges during the mid-1890s that continued shaping and changing the role of all women causing them to leave their homes and changed their way of life with gaining equal rights and rights against women suffrage.
The Progressive Era was a time in American history that lasted from the 1890s to the 1920s. During the turn of the century the Americans were experiencing a rapid increase in urbanization and industrialization. The Progressives way of belief was that they were reformers, which accepted the system of Americans but still felt that there was only the need for adjustment. Many of these energetic reformers united in the Progressive party of 1912, with Theodore Roosevelt as their presidential candidate. There were a huge number of people that were involved in the progressive reform. All three presidents during that time period that included Theodore Roosevelt, Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. All three implemented some form of progressive reform. After leaving office, President Theodore Roosevelt created a third political party called the Progressive Party that challenged his successor Howard Taft. Progressivism was not just a single movement it moved within a collection of coalitions wanting changes that seemed to be contradicting each other. Many of these reforms were mostly aimed at increasing democracy within America. These reforms included women suffrage, the elections of senators, availability of referendum, and the right to recall representatives that behavior in office was not satisfying the constituents. The Progressive reformers were successful in implementing reform legislation at all levels of the government. The Progressive reform attracted many women seeking the teachings of Jane Addams and what she called “the larger life” of public affair. (Davidson, p. 638). Women during this time weren’t allowed to vote and felt they needed to exercise their rights as citizens to shape public policies and create public institutions. During the Progressive Era, female reformers used the fact that they were considered the protectors of the home to argue that in order to protect the home they needed to move into the public sphere. Women conducted much research to implement programs for legislation to address social, political, and economic problems. Female reformers were in the forefront of the movement against child labor and the women’s suffrage campaign. Middle and upper-middle class gained their first taste of public life from women’s organizations that included the Young Women’s Christian Association, the National Consumers’ League, professional association, and trade unions. The movement won minimum wage and maximum hour’s laws for women workers, public health programs for pregnant women and babies, improved the educational opportunities for children and adults and social welfare measures at local, state, and federal levels. By 1910, more than 400 settlement houses throughout the nation had organized a loose affiliation with women leading the way. They succeeded in creating the Children’s Bureau in 1912 and the Women’s Bureau in 1920 in the federal Department of Labor. The changes that were occurring in the lives of women, the public, and the press brought about a phrase for women they were called the “New Woman” (The National Women's History Museum, 2007). The “New Woman” was mostly young, college educated, pursuing a career, active in sports, and looking for a marriage based...