Editors: Kathryn Kish Sklar
and Thomas Dublin
Published by Alexander Street Press and the
Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender, SUNY Binghamton
In This Issue
The document projects in this issue explore women's involvement in two Progressive-era movements. In "How Did the Debate about Widows' Pensions Shape Relief Programs for Single Mothers, 1900-1940?" S.J. Kleinberg examines the Progressive debate over whether to provide widows with pensions in the context of the increasing public concern about the welfare of widows and orphans in the United States. Because changing social values heightened concern over child welfare, reformers viewed widows' economic strategies as less acceptable than they had in the pre- or early-industrial eras. Previously widows with young families to support had relied upon a combination of their own and their children's labor. Fearing that children's lives would be permanently blighted by premature labor or inadequate upbringing, social reformers sought to keep them out of the labor force until they were fifteen or sixteen. They hoped to accomplish this end both through labor laws banning the employment of young children and the institution of widows' pensions, which would enable mothers to stay at home to look after their families. This debate shaped subsequent programs to provide relief to single mothers.
The American conservation movement, with its sense of public responsibility for the protection of America's natural resources and beauty, reflected the social consciousness of the Progressive Era. Kimberly A. Jarvis, in "How Did the General Federation of Women's Clubs Shape Women's Involvement in the Conservation Movement, 1900-1930?" demonstrates how middle- and upper-class white women, who participated in many other Progressive reform efforts, were important players in the conservation movement. Through local, state, and national women's clubs, as well as through various conservation and outdoor organizations, these women became involved in conservation campaigns ranging from planting trees to creating national parks. Women's conservation efforts sometimes drew on popular support for protection of wildlife, natural resources, and places of natural beauty, thereby offering a bridge between the male elite leaders of the conservation movement and a wider audience.
The two new lesson plans included in this issue, WILPF's Campaign Against Chemical Warfare and Florence Kelley's Campaign Against Sweatshops in Chicago, contain many lesson ideas based on documents in Women and Social Movements document projects. They include class discussion questions, writing activities, paper assignments, and suggestions for further exploration. The documents allow a variety of interpretations and the questions allow multiple responses. Students should find the topics interesting and intellectually stimulating.
In this issue we are publishing five additional full-text sources. We expect to add roughly 1,250 pages each quarter in the future. With the appearance of Proceedings of the Seventh National Woman's Rights Convention Held in New York City, at the Broadway Tabernacle on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 25th and 26th, 1856, we have completed the publication of all proceedings of women's rights conventions held in the United States between 1848 and 1869. We trust this will become a valued resource for research in U.S. Women's History. Our remaining four publications this quarter include resources that will be useful for the exploration of women's social movements in the United States. Two focus on African-American women's organizations (Elizabeth Lindsay Davis, et al., Story of the Illinois Federation of Colored Women's Clubs  and Sue M. Wilson Brown, The History of the Order of the Eastern Star among Colored People ), a third offers a history of a conservative, all-white patriotic organization (Louise Leonard Kent, History of the Organization and Work of the National Society Daughters of the Revolution ), and one provides advice to women who led the women's club movement in the 1920s (Alice Ames Winter, The Business of Being a Club Woman ). All are fully indexed and full-text searchable.
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