Progression of Women in the United States: 1865-1917


Women in the West


Women were given many opportunities in the West. It started in the Wyoming Territory where women were first granted full voting rights. In 1870, women in the state of Utah also were granted the right to vote. Western women were also allowed to run for public office, hold government posts, become lawyers, doctors, and even entrepreneurs (some women owning their own ranches). In 1887, Argonia had six towns elect women as mayors and Oskaloosa had the nations first all-female city council. Women were beginning to broaden themselves and work outside the home.



The National Woman Suffrage Association, also known as NWSA, was founded by Elizabeth Cady Staton and Susan B. Anthony in 1869, The organization judged the 14th Amendment (prohibiting the states from depriving citizens of their civil rights or equal protection under law) and the 15th Amendment (forbade states to deny citizens the right to vote on the grounds of race, color, or “previous conditions of servitude”). The group believed that the 15th Amendment should have the word sex which would give woman as well as other races to have the right to vote. This group also advocated for easier divorce and to end discrimination in employment and pay.

In that same year, the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) started in Boston. This group, however, only advocated on gaining the right to vote. Leading members included Lucy Stone and Julia Ward Howe.

"In her despair, Elizabeth Cady Stanton lashed out against 'Patrick and Sambo and Hans and Ung Tung,' maligning uneducated freedmen and immigrants who could vote while educated white women could not" (James A. Henretta, 2012, p.455).



In 1874, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was organized and formed. Led by Annie Wittenmyer, Frances E. Willard, Mary Johnson, and Mary Ingham, their primary objective was to protect the home from alcohol abuse. Later on it was advocated for abstinence from tobacco and other drugs.



The two groups (NWSA and AWSA) merged together after several years of negotiation. They felt that is wasn't a good idea to have two groups campaigning for the right to vote for women. They new group name was National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The leading women included Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Anna Howard Shaw, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Frances Willard.

Women in the Corporate Workplace


By 1990, more than 4 million women worked for wages (James A. Henretta, 2012, p. 518). There were different positions available that included different wages. At this time, women had a few different options. Low level office jobs became popular as 77% of all stenographers and typists were female. In the retail department, women began working as saleswomen and interacted directly with their costumers. "About a third worked in domestic services; another third in industry; and the rest in office work, teaching, nursing, or sales" (James A. Henretta, 2012, p. 519).

Higher Education for Women


By 1910, 58% of America's 1,083 colleges and universities were coeducational. Before this, most women attended all women's (same-sex) institutions or teacher-training colleges. By going to school, women were able to work more alongside men and gain more respect. They were able to become more independent as well. "It became harder to argue that women were 'dependents' who did not need to vote" (James A. Henretta, 2012, p. 543).