Civil Rights Interpretations Women and Gilded Age

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 04-05-17 12:10
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  • Women in Gilded Age, c1875-c1895
    • Historical context
      • Growth of industrialisation and improved transport during this period meant more work done outside family home than traditional rural environment.
      • Progress of women's rights was also subjective to economic fluctuations
        • E.g. first major temperance campaign after Civil War in 1873-74 coincided with economic slum.
    • Gains during period for women (mainly in greater public profile)
      • Some 60,000 women took part in temperance demonstrations.
        • Often those who supported temperance also supported women's suffrage organisations
      • Women who had been active in churches became active in religiously motivated temperance campaigns like Women's Christian Temperance Union (est. 1872)
        • Though it was founded geographically widespread, members were predominantly white, middle-class Protestants.
      • Industrial growth led to more women working.
        • By 1880s, 26% of Philadelphia's workers were women.
        • In some urban centres where textiles were important, like Atlanta and parts of Massachusetts, women amounted to one-third of workforce.
      • Economic expansion also produced more opportunities for white-collar work.
        • Before 1861 clerks were mainly men, but by 1880s clerical work had opened up opportunities for women, especially with development of typewriter.
        • However, female wages were considerably lower  than male wages for similar work and there were fewer promotion opportunities.
      • Women were able to join unions, though not on same scale as men, and often faced hostility from them.
      • Urban growth meant more opportunities for education for women.
        • There were new colleges for women in east while in western states there were co-educational opportunities.
        • First training school for nurses set up in 1873 and by 1890 there were 35.
      • There were also more organisations to care for welfare of younger urban women, such as Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), est. 1867
      • In terms of westward expansion, there tended to be more equality between men and women, who shared hardships and joys of moving westwards.
        • However, with 'end of the frontier', and growth of urban centres linked together by railways, this lessened.
    • Losses during period for women (particularly due to divisions of campaign, impact of immigration and issue of equal pay)
      • Divisions between rival suffrage organisations had weakened overall women's rights movement.
        • There was still lot of resentment , not only among male opponents, but also among some women, who disliked idea of suffrage.
      • Association with temperance tended to weaken focus of movement for female suffrage
        • Women active in public sphere were associated with domestic rather than purely political concerns.
      • Influx of immigrants in 1880s and 90s led to many women from S and E Europe working from poor homes in crowded cities, taking in lodgers, working in sweatshops, or working as maids and cleaners or within the sex industry.
        • Domestic work came to be associated with immigrants and lost its status.
        • It was still hard for married women to work and this was often common only among African Americans.
        • Single younger women often ended up in low-skilled jobs instead of learning a trade.
      • There were still distinct double standards.
        • Men did not generally expect to play part in domestic chores and wages were still unequal.


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