Progressivism or, in other words, the Progressive Era is usually associated with large scope of social and moral reforms. Besides, significant amounts of reforms were conducted in the spheres of politics, religion, and economics. The beginning of the 20th century on the territory of the United States of America was marked by the era of massive business expansion and effective reforms that made this country a better as well as safer place to live. Despite the fact that traditional histories that describe the era of progressivism concentrate, in the majority of cases, on male individuals, numerous women were incredibly significant driving force of efficient reforms in that period of time. The given research paper aims to determine, describe, and evaluate massive participation of females in progressive movements.
Progressive movements were primarily purposed to combat extreme corruption of governments on national and regional levels. However, this era that focused numerous drastic reforms, transformed economic, religious, and cultural life of people in the USA. In simple words, progressivism in the UAS had to ensure significant scientific, social, economic, and technological changes and advancements. Besides, reforms that were implemented and conducted within the era of progressive movements shifted the spheres of communication, entertainment, freedom, and gender roles.
It is rather important to note the fact that middle-class women actively participated in this era of reforms. In other words, they were initiators of various social reforms during that period of time. The researchers claim that progressivism ensured new opportunities to females, and that is why they were able to participate actively in public life of the country. Furthermore, middle-class females successfully received “new status” that ensured an opportunity to them to create various public institutions and other associations. Progressive American women successfully created such well-known establishments as Women’s Trade Union League as well as Young Women’s Christian Association. In addition, such establishment as the National Consumer’s League was formed by active female reformers. In addition, women organized numerous professional associations and trade unions in order to combat child labor. Female reformers encouraged the implementation of a vast scope of special health reforms for pregnant women as well as small babies. Besides, the range of their educational opportunities was increased as middle and upper classes of female individuals were given a unique opportunity not only to graduate from colleges, but get numerous white-collar professions. For example, significant percentage of women successfully found well-paid jobs at department stores. Therefore, many females performed the functions of clerical workers and telephone operators. Considerable low percentage of females graduated as lawyers as well as journalists and doctors. As a result, taking into consideration these drastic changes that faced the life of women, it is important to note that the term “New Woman” was coined within the Progressive Era. These “new females” were active reformers that received good education, actively participated in cultural life of the country or sport events, and opted for marriage that was based on love and equality. However, many women that were engaged in settlement professions, nursing, and science remained single for numerous reasons as dedication to profession and work required much time and efforts. However, regardless the fact that women quickly penetrated into “serious male professions”, numerous females were still working at factories or in the sphere of agriculture as they were deprived of opportunity to get education.
In spite of the fact that women suffrage movements actually originated in 1848, this process gained considerable success and new vitality during the period of progressive movements in the USA. At the beginning of the twentieth century suffrage movement was concentrated within two leading organizations. The first organization was officially called the National American Woman Suffrage Association. According to the estimations of the researchers, during the Progressive Era the success of this organization was enormous as it numbered several million of female participants on the territory of the USA. Within the period of progressive movements, NAWSA was usually referred to as “the major pressure’ on the territory of this country. Except middle-class females, it included to its lists numerous celebrities that influenced the public as well as the governmental agencies. This organization was extremely active as its members received significant investments from wealthy people and organized various parades and meetings in order to attract attention of other people and encourage them to become active members of this organization. In addition, one of the purposes of this non-governmental organization was connected with broadening the scope of educational efforts. Members of this organization pursued large scope of social and political reforms. For instance, they blamed the government of the USA for job discrimination as women were usually paid less then male workers. C. C. Catt that was appointed instead of S. B. Anthony as the leader of NAWSA was effective leader of this organization as she contributed to acceleration of females’ penetration into public and social life of the USA.
Second influential organization in the USA during the Progression Era was called the National Woman’s Party. In comparison to the NAWSA, this organization was more radical as members of this organizations together with their leader Alice Paul resorted to picketing the building of the White House in order to achieve their objectives. According to the main logo of this organization, the main goal of its members was to modify an amendment to the Constitution of the USA enfranchising female individuals. As a result, close cooperation and combined efforts of NAWSA and NWP resulted in ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the USA. According to essence of this amendment, no one should be deprived of the opportunity to vote on the basis of sex. Thus, having determined and assessed the goals and functions of NWP and NAWSA, the researchers claim that effective implementation of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is considered to be the largest and the most influential achievement of female individuals during progressive movements.
Moreover, the Progressive Era expanded the popularity of women’s clubs that were originated in the 19th century. The researchers claim that these “social clubs” operated on regional and national levels, and addressed complex “social ills” of society at that period of time. The majority of members of these clubs were active participants that initiated and ran diverse programs as well as lobbied to legislation in order to solve various problems that faced not only the quality of life of women, but society in general. During the period of progressive movements the amount of these clubs constituted several dozens in every city. Besides, members of these social clubs actively contributed to improvements in social sphere as they opened numerous private libraries, free-of-charge kindergartens, and free food for children that were studying at school. Besides, they planned to reform the local governmental agencies because of their corruption, ineffectiveness, and indifference to life of society. Some social clubs were purposed to protect the environment and reduce the amounts of hazardous pollutants that contributed to the degrading quality of ecosystem. Some other “divisions” of females aimed to promote the social status of a “New Woman”. Significant percentage of social clubs focused on such problematic issues as inspection of high-quality of food, alcohol abuse, other bad habits, and, finally, rehabilitation of female prostitutes. The most well-known clubs that actively operated in the USA within progressive movements are as follows: Association of Collegiate Alumnae and the Daughters of the American Revolution. However, such club as the National Household Economic Association was no less important as it provided assistance to individuals, families, and entire communities in order to increase the quality of their life in “New America”.
The researcher support the idea that the birth control movement considerably expanded during the Progressive Era. Female individuals actively promoted numerous issues connected with sexuality, significance of marriage, and giving birth to children. For example, numerous females organized specialized establishments that forced the government of the USA to censure pornography, impose a ban as well as strict policies on prostitution, and pay attention to white slavery that is commonly known as human trafficking. In addition, these female groups conducted special trainings to males in order to teach them the norms of sexual conduct to female individuals and encouraged them to learn the basics of sexual education. Moreover, the idea of “compassionate marriages” was promoted. In other words, female activists claimed that husbands and wives are absolutely equal that is why they should treat each other with love, dignity, and respect. In the 1910s, M. H. Sanger, a well-known sex educator and nurse, successfully published numerous articles in scientific journals about sexuality, abortion, and birth control in order to educate the public. This woman is the founder of the National Birth Control League. In general, this woman was extremely active within the Progressive Era as she educated females and males about such vitally significant issues as love, sex, marriage, parental relationships, upbringing of children and their education.
As a result, having determined, analyzed, and assessed the importance of women in the Progressive Era, it is possible to make a conclusion that at the end of the nineteenth centuries the word “woman” or “female” was directly associated with moral guardians, home, and warmth. However, the Progressive Era rapidly altered this obtrusive ideology as female individuals got opportunity to study, get education, perform white-collar jobs, and participate in active public life. The status of females drastically changed during the progressive movements because the term a “New Woman” appeared that made females equal to males. Finally, it is important to emphasize the females were the driving force of the Progressive Era as they actively participated in organization of different clubs, centers, and establishment in order to make the USA a better and more comfortable place to live.