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The period from 1890 - 1925 was largely characterized by progression in American
policies, deeming it the “Progressive Era”. It was an era of widespread activism and reform,
trying to mend the problems that had been caused by urbanization, corruption, immigration, and
industrialization. A major movement during the Progressive Era was the push to increase
women’s roles in society, whether it be economically, politically, or socially. During the period
1890 - 1925, American women were allowed more access to employment, given more political
involvement, and the stereotypes regarding American women were challenged, ultimately
providing reason to increase their societal roles.
Economically, women’s roles were largely increased by allowing them to take on roles in
workplaces such as factories, in order to take the place of the males who had gone to fight in
the war. While this assisted American economical processes since it allowed the factories and
industrial centers to keep running with the absence of the male workers, it also gave the women
a way to fight for equality by showing that they were capable of holding such jobs. In (doc A),
Susan B Anthony, a key individual in the push for women’s equality, says that the “household
drudgery that monopolized the strength of the mother and daughters” sets women up with hard
working traits that “ha[ve] been taken outside and turned over to machinery”. This quote is taken
from a publication composed by Anthony which intended to show readers that women were
perfectly capable, and had the necessary hard-working skills for them to be successful in the
economic world. Jobs in factories were not the only occupations that could be held by women at
the time. During the WWI Era, it was necessary that women provide some sort of aid or
assistance to those fighting in the war. While they did not fight, they did have some key roles in
the war. For instance, some held jobs as nurses and went to Europe during the war, in order to
serve in Red Cross Hospitals. Others would test the equipment and machinery used in the war
at home. During this time, many more jobs opened up to women. While this was mainly because
a large percentage of the working men were absent fighting in the war, it allowed women to
show that they were capable of fighting in the war.
Politically, women were given a newfound voice and role in political processes that America had
never offered them before. Throughout the majority of American History, the only group of
people who were given suffrage were white males. (Doc C) argues that if that behavior
continued, yes the country would progress in “commercial and industrial development”, but
would continue to fall behind in “those things that make a city healthful and beautiful”, those
things being social equality and opportunistic liberties for all people. The doc (doc C) was
written to a ​Ladies Home Journal, ​in order to persuade the women readers to realize the
significance their political voice held, and fight for it to be heard. The writer states that in order to
protect the future generations from danger in work and in the streets, women need to fight for
their say in the government. Ultimately, the fight for women’s suffrage ended in a success. The
last of the Progressive Amendments, the 19th Amendment, granted women their right to vote,
and participate in the government by the people and for the people that the United States had
set up. The results of the Women’s Suffrage Movement shows how women’s political roles were
increased during the Progressive Era.
From the beginning, there had been standing stereotypes regarding the traits and roles of
women. They were thought of to be “weak and ignorant and defenseless” (doc D), and that
there was an “ancient inequality of the sexes” ultimately favoring the males (doc E). In doc D,
the author intends to push women to shake themselves of these negative stereotypes, by
obtaining “Courage, power, and achievement.” She convinces the women of America that they
are “wiser, stronger, better able to protect themselves, one another, and their children”. (doc D).
This article was intended to help women recognize that they could be strong enough to sustain
themselves in society, and that they were entitled to an increased role in society. Doc E was
taken from a Supreme Court case, ​Adkins v. Children’s Hospital, ​that pushed for a legislation
that granted women these new opportunities. It argued that if the court was to ignore this plea,
that it would be setting back American progression, by not allowing women equal footing in the
economy, and in American policy. The court ruling states that the seemingly unwavering
inequality had finally began to come to an end, and that ruling in favor of women would be a
huge step forward in the progressive movement, allowing for women to begin a new leaf. Both
of these documents show how challenging the set stereotypes of women’s characteristics and
roles would push forward the American progressive movement, and provide women with a new,
strengthened position in society.
The period 1890 - 1925 was filled with political reform and social activism. These movements
resulted in a major turning point in American History. The increased role of women founded
during this movement allowed for a new social, economical, political precedent in America, that
gave women a strengthened position in American society.