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Women and Public Life. Main Idea. Women during the Progressive Era actively campaigned for reforms in education, children’s welfare, temperance, and suffrage. Focus Questions. What opportunities did women have for education and work outside the home during the late 1800s?

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main idea
Main Idea

Women during the Progressive Era actively campaigned for reforms in education, children’s welfare, temperance, and suffrage.

focus questions
Focus Questions

What opportunities did women have for education and work outside the home during the late 1800s?

How did women gain political experience through participation in reform movements?

How did the women’s Prohibition movement effect the country?

opportunities for women
Opportunities for Women

By the late 1800s women were able to find more opportunities for education and employment.

Many women looked outside the house for change and reform in society.

Women sought to use their talents and skills to make life better for others and themselves.

higher education
Higher Education
  • Through the early 1800s there were limited opportunities for women in higher education
    • The first college (Oberlin College)opened in 1833 that admitted women.
  • By 1870 about 20 percent of all college students were women. By 1900 that number rose 33 percent.
  • Most women were middle or upper class.
  • Unfortunately after college was over, the majority of women were unable to get a job.
  • Being unable to work women put their skills and talents into reform movements.
elizabeth blackwell
Elizabeth Blackwell

Graduated from Geneva Medical College in 1849 becoming first woman to earn a M.D. degree.

Established the New York Infirmary offering women a practical solution to women who were rejected from internships.

She also established a medical college for women providing training & experience for women doctors and medical care for the poor.

Blackwell established the road for other women to enter the medical field and get M.D.’s

employment opportunities
Employment Opportunities

In the late 1800s women were admitted into the following fields: Teachers, nurses, bookkeepers typists, secretaries, and shop clerks.

Women also started to be hired as journalists and artists. 11, 207 artist from 412 and 2,193 journalists from 35.

Those without a high school education found work in industry. Any hired were normally assumed to be single and being supported by fathers.

These opportunities in public life began to change the way many middle class women viewed the world.

gaining p olitical experience
Gaining Political Experience

Women became the backbone of many reforms during the Progressive Era.

Women learned how to organize, persuade other people, and publicize their own cause.

These movements also taught women that they had the power to improve themselves, their families, and their communities.

children s health and welfare
Children’s Health and Welfare

Lillian Wald believed the federal government had a responsibility to tend to the well being of children.

She campaigned tirelessly for the creation of a federal agency to meet the goal.

In 1912 the Federal Children’s Bureau opened in 1912 firming up success.

This Bureau was directed, managed, and staffed almost entirely by women, a rarity at the time.


Prohibition called for the ban of making, selling, and distributing alcoholic beverages. It was believed alcohol was responsible for crime, poverty, and violence against women and children.

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Anti-Saloon League worked together on the movement.

Frances Willard headed the WCTU from 1879-1898 making the organization a powerful force.


Many reformers spread the message in Protestant Churches. The reach of these messages went far.

Billy Sunday a former baseball player preached salons were “ the parent of crimes and the mother of sins.”

Carry Nation took the message to heart. She took a hatchet in one hand and a bible in another smashing up saloons.

In 1917 Congress passed the 18th Amendment banning the sale, manufacturing, and distribution of alcohol.

prohibition repealed
Prohibition Repealed
  • Problems Prohibition Created:
    • Organized Crime
    • Home Brewing
    • Deadly & Toxic bootleg alcohol
    • Corruption
    • Heavy Drinking
    • States lost funding
  • Prohibition was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment.
women s suffrage movement
Women’s Suffrage Movement

In 1869 Susan B Anthony formed the National Women Suffrage Association. The goal was to support an amendment directly allowing women to vote.

Meanwhile Henry Ward Beecher founded the American Women Suffrage Association. The goal was to win state by state the right for women to vote.

Before women could vote nation wide, 12 states allowed women to vote.

testing the law
Testing the Law

In 1872 Susan B. Anthony along with 3 other women registered to vote, and on election day voted in Rochester, New York.

Two weeks later they were arrested for “knowingly, wrongfully, and unlawfully” voting. Unable to defend themselves at their trial, they were convicted and sentenced to $100 fine.

Anthony refused to pay and the Judge did not enforce the ruling, denying Anthony the right to appeal.

elizabeth cady stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton

She was an activist who wrote the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments in 1848. This document was presented at the Seneca Falls Women’s Right Convention.

She worked with Susan B. Anthony and together they formed the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Later on her focus shifted to equal rights for women and blamed the churches for keeping women unequal.


In 1890 NWSA & AWSA merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

Methods involved using: theatrical suffrage parades conventions, pamphlets, celebrities, and books.

During WWI their efforts paused for the war, which actually furthered their cause.

1919 both the House and Senate passed the 19th amendment and was ratified by states 1 year later.

title ix 1972
Title IX - 1972


Gave opportunities to participate in sports, give same amount of funding as male programs, and earn scholarships.

Indirectly entitle equal opportunity to education .

The amount of women earning Masters and Doctoral Degrees almost doubled.

What is it?

  • Often leads to the dismantling of men’s sports to keep an appropriate ratio for Title IX.
  • Men’s interest in sports tend to be disregard due to title IX.
  • This demonstrates while there is an attempt at equality there is no such thing as exact equality.
roe v wade 1973
Roe v. Wade - 1973
  • The question of this case is based on States abortion laws. Before Roe v. Wade States had criminalized getting an abortion except for health reasons.
  • The Court decided in favor Roe for the following reasons:
    • Each woman has a right to privacy and can decide within the first 3 months of a pregnancy.
  • This court case was a major victory for women’s rights and is still upheld.
alice paul
Alice Paul

Being raised a Quaker she believed that men and women deserved equal treatment.

She sought a constitutional amendment that would provide equal rights. This created friction between her and NAWSA Leaders.

She formed the National Women’s Party which staged the first political protest in front of the White House and was jailed.

While jailed Alice Paul went on a Hunger Strike eventually being forced fed raw eggs down a tube.

She proposed what would be the original Equal Rights Amendment.

equal rights amendment
Equal Rights Amendment

It states - Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

The ERA was introduced in every session of congress from 1923 to 1970. The amendment finally passed in 1972 and sent out for ratification.

By 1980 the amendment died due to not having enough states ratifying the amendment. 35 out of 38 needed states ratified it.

Instead today 21 states have added the ERA to the State’s Constitution

review questions
Review Questions

What was Higher education like for women and what were some thoughts to keep women out?

What is a common theme throughout the available jobs for women? Why is that important?

As women gained political experience, what was so important and unique about the Children’s Bureau?

How did the message of Prohibition Spread and what was it trying to accomplish?

5. How did Susan B. Anthony have an impact on the Suffrage Movement?

6. Elizabeth Cady Stanton used what document at what place to further her cause? What was her cause?

7. What is IX and the impact it had in schools?

8. What is the Equal Rights Amendment and what happened to it?