1915, Jane Addams, Alice Hamilton, Florence Kelley, Charlotte Perkins Gilman & Carrie Chapman Catt founded the Woman’s Peace Party.
meeting 1915 platform calling for peace;
Slogan: “Listen to the Women for a Change”
April, 1915 - Int’l Woman Suffrage Association conference at The Hague;
First woman elected to US Congress;
voted against war;
WWI threatens to tear apart women's movement;
Jane Addams adamantly pacifist, practically called a traitor;
Catt believed women could win vote by supporting war;
NAWSA agreed to suspend activities;
National Women’s Party would not;
Catt served on Woman’s Committee of the Council of National Defense (received Distinguished Service Medal);
Slogan: “My Country, I am at your service.”
War new opportunities for women:
Old ideas (such as what's "proper" for women) set aside temporarily, in nat'l emergency;
1914 WWI in Europe – Allied Powers (Britain, France, Russia) vs. Central Powers (Germany);
Woodrow Wilson – US neutrality;
1915 German subs sank British ship Lusitania – killing 1100 (128 Americans);
April 2, 1917 – ask Congress to declare war.
America must “make the world safe for democracy.” “the war to end all wars”.
US government quickly mobilize economy for military effort;
Men fighting - shortage of labor;
War opens non-traditional jobs for women;
munitions makers’ recruiting ads: "Women Wanted!"
total number of working women same, mostly young & single, at least in white middle-class families;
type of job changed:
streetcar conductors, munitions and metalworking factories, railroads;
higher pay than "women's work";
1918, over 100,000 women in railroad work;
wages around $100/month;
72% women in railroads doing clerical work,
operating lift trucks, moving lumber, iron;
A few hundred women work in railroad shops - operating lathes, cranes, welders;
Penn RR - five young women hired to disassemble, clean & reassemble valves worked twice as fast as men;
Male workers refused to let women into machinists' union;
government regulations later bar women from heavy labor;
several hundred women streetcar conductors;
wages 33% higher than as domestic servant;
1917-1919, women conductors in NY, LA, KC, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis.
it was the "lightest work I ever did and best pay. Have worked at housework, done clerical work, and as a telephone operator. Had to do heavy lifting when I checked orders in the drug company; filled a man's place at $15 per week, while men beside me got twice that. Do you wonder I appreciate being treated as well and paid just the same as a man?"
"Keep the Girls off the Cars":
Woman is God's most tender flower, made to blossom and to bear,
To keep our homes, raise our children, and our jobs & sorrows share.
She was made by God the weaker, like a vine on man to lean;
She was meant to work like her nature, tender, sweet & clean;
But when the Railway Kings for greed and gain would cover womanhood with scars;
We pray God to protect & keep our women off the cars.
Critics worried exposing women to accidents, disease, "to the insults & profanity" of riders - not proper;
1918 govt study of 97 metal-working plants: 64 report that productivity of female workers equal to or greater than men;
Auto factory: woman with one week experience doubled production rate of man next to her; "After endeavoring to equal her speed for a few days, the man quit and was replaced by a woman who is now very nearly the equal of the first."
Gear-making plant: women 15 to 25% more productive than men in drilling & sandblasting metal parts;
Munitions plant: women 25 to 50% more productive than men working drill presses and milling machines;
Women driving ambulances & supply trucks, homefront & on war front:
Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs);
American Fund for French Wounded (AFFW);
Violated traditional stereotypes about gender & car;
Gertrude Stein & Alice B. Toklas;
evacuating wounded & supplying hospitals;
repair own vehicles;
“New Woman” comfort with technology as source of personal independence & alternate vision of gender roles;
over 25,000 American women served overseas;
All volunteers, age 20s to 60s,
most white, upper or middle-class;
Edith Wharton - food & medicine for refugees;
most women as nurses – also doctors, administrators, drivers, interpreters, journalists, refugee workers;
War most important experience of generation
patriotic feeling, obligation to defend democracy;
Radcliffe student studying at Cambridge volunteered: "every English girl worth her salt has chucked everything to help in the war, and if I were to sit tight at college, continuing my research on fossil botany of all things, getting the benefit of their sacrifices, it would look like the height of selfishness."
Siberia - Red Cross work;
Head nurse: "to be in the front ranks in this most dramatic even and to be in the first group of women ever called for duty with the US Army is all too much good fortune for any one person."
Chance to feel useful: "It isn't exactly an alluring prospect to be in the backwoods of Russia for months with only 2 English speaking people, to run an infectious hospital, but it will be rather fun."
telephone operator: "I was so afraid they would locate us in the western part of France far away from the front. I much preferred to be as near the lines as possible, the most interesting place of all."
Women’s colleges commission special units;
1917 Smith College – 50 graduates;
Army & Navy Nurse Corps - over 10,000 female nurses;
"Don't tell me that women can't do as much, stand as much, and be as brave as men."
Army refuses to accept women doctors;
NAWSA raised money for NY Infirmary for Women & Children - "The Women's Overseas Hospital";
US War Dept refused; French accepted, women run hundred-bed hospital for soldiers & refugees;
Army Signal Corps -over 200 women in Europe
Woman's Telephone Unit - "Soldiers of the Switchboard";
"I recommend telephone service for making you feel that you are a real part of the army. When Pershing can't talk to British prime minister Lloyd George unless you make the connection, you feel you are helping a bit - it was fun."
air raids, shelling, poison gas;
Over 300 American women killed overseas;
War ended Nov. 1918;
Penn RR: "In the stress of affairs during the war, the temporary employment of women became an absolute necessity. We appreciate what the women have done for us in the past months, but men must be reinstated for the good of all and women should lend a willing obedience to that fact."
Santa Fe RR fired married women to "protect the sanctity of the home."
"We are women that needed the work very much - one woman has her aged father to support, another a small son, and I support my disabled sister. We are respectable but poor; we like our jobs very much and hope you will place us back at the shop."
Detroit Women Conductors' Association: "It is our purpose to permanently see the right of women to be employed as conductors."
Anna Shaw: "Why should we have men decide for us what is good or bad for our morals & health? We are adults. We women have a right to ask that we shall be free to serve in the capacity for which we are fitted, and these women in Cleveland on the streetcars have proven themselves able to do the work."
military refused to recognize Army Nurse Corps or Signal Corps women as veterans;
Nurse Mary Roberts Rinehart: "The most tragic discovery of all to any woman is that she is not needed. Brutal as it sounds, the great war came as a boon to millions of women, and its end came as a tragedy. Once more, they were no longer needed."
National Women's Party - Alice Paul;
Membership 50,000 (vs. two million NAWSA);
strategy of civil disobedience & dramatic action;
Paul –party in power held responsible for denying women the vote;
Democrats – President Woodrow Wilson;
Picketed White House;
Signs: “how long must women wait for liberty?”
300 (incl. wives of Congressmen) arrested for “obstructing traffic”;
in jail – hunger strikes to draw attention as political prisoners;
Paul hunger strike more than three weeks;
Nov. 1917 guards beat & terrorized 33 suffragists;
huge publicity - shocks public, sympathy;
Courts invalidated all arrests, suffragists released;
NAWSA blasted picketing as “absurd, ill-timed, unwarranted discourtesy to the President.”
Jan. 1918 Wilson statement supporting federal amendment;
Wanted women’s support for his vision of a League of Nations;
Alice Paul said now “only a matter of time”
House passed “Susan B. Anthony amendment”: 274 for, 136 against;
Sept. 1918 Wilson dramatic personal appearance at Senate;
Senate vote 62 in favor, 34 against – two short of two-thirds;
NAWSA targeted key opposition Senators, helped elect pro-suffrage Senators in Mass. & Delaware;
May 1919 House vote 304 for, 89 against;
June 4, 1919 passed Senate - 56 in favor, 25 against;
amendment needed to be ratified by 36 out of 48 state legislatures;
Catt: “Wake Up America” conferences across country;
Antisuffragists filed suits against states’ ratification – cases went to Supreme Court;
August, 1920 – Tennessee:
Antisuffragists: “Mrs Catt and Suffrage Leaders Repudiate the Bible,”
Governor: “Millions of women are looking to this Legislature to give them a voice and share in shaping the destiny of the Republic.”
Tennessee Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor;
Tennessee House: 24-year old Harry Burns
Mother: “Hurrah! vote for suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt. I notice some of the speeches against… were very bitter… Be a good boy and help Mrs Catt put the rat in ratification.”
August 26, 1920, 19th Amendment to Constitution officially ratified;
“The right of citizens of the US to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the US or by any state on account of sex.”