RQ: To what extent did WWI have on the course of women's suffrage in the United States?
Identification and evaluation of sources
The focus of this investigation will be “To what extent did WWI have an on the course of women's suffrage in the United States?” and will analyze the degree to which the main aspects of how WWI changed women's role in the United States between 1840 to 1920. It will look at the various women's establishments that were created around that time, and how they corresponded with the war. In this investigation, the social, economic, and political involvement of women before and during the war will be compared. This investigation won't be about civil rights or a feminist movement, but an investigation of the chain of events of World War I on women's voting rights. Thus, The Declaration of Rights for Women by Susan B. Anthony (suffragist and a pioneer for women's rights) and Women's Suffrage Timeline (1840-1920) are sources with particular value to this investigation, due to the insight they can give into the workings of women's role in politics through either first-hand experience or through research in a general area, which aids our understanding of women's suffrage during this era.
Source: The Declaration of Rights for Women by Susan B. Anthony, published in Philadelphia, July 4, 1876.
This source has the purpose of providing a history of the basic rights every American should have and the purpose of establishing that all women should have the right to vote as US citizens and to defend her decision to vote in elections. Susan B. Anthony uses specific language that provides a look at what details are most relevant to the creation of the 19th amendment. She references past amendments and believes that they are a violation of their own principles of the government and creates their own articles of impeachment for all the wronging and oppression happening to women. The Author Susan B. Anthony is a reputable advocate for women's rights and is known for having a vital role in the women's suffrage movement, showing her reliability as a writer. It was extremely valuable in providing very specific research about the needs of women but was limited in its perspective of other women living through this time as it only had limited coverage of non-political women and institutions during WWI. However, this source provides information on the process that led to the creation of the constitutional amendment for suffrage which makes this source one of the most valuable.
Source: Women Suffrage Timeline (1840-1920) published by the NWHM
This source is an online source created by NWHM (national women's history museum) with the purpose of creating a chronological timeline of the advancements in the history of women's suffrage. This source was valuable because it gives the idea of the time from the beginning of women's activism, to the creation of the 19th amendment. Although this is a secondary source, this timeline was Abstract because it provides factual and concise information to use. This lack of quality analysis was also both a value and a limitation. This source had a limitation in its use because it isn't able to push for a real bias compared to other sources which provided more valuable research.
In the period preceding World War One, the fight for women's suffrage was slowly rising but still was struggling to an extent. During that time there were several groups, the most prominent were the NWSA and the AWSA, which were two different groups but had the same goal in mind of promoting and supporting the production and dissemination of knowledge about women and gender through teaching, learning, research, and service in academic and other settings. The lack of success is shown in the first attempt at an amendment for women's suffrage, created in 1878, but did not succeed (NWHM). After the first attempt, many women's organizations united under a single agency named the American Woman Suffrage Association, which started a new era of fighting for suffrage. The AWSA pushed for a state amendment hoping that later a federal amendment would be created. Many states like Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and many others states gave women the right to vote by 1896. (19th amendment). Women were slowly making advancements. Between 1880 and 1910, the employment rate of women increased from 2.6 million to 7.8 million. Although women began to be employed in business and industry, the majority of better-paying positions continued to go to men (Library of Congress).
When World War I started against Germany in 1916, the women's rights movement had the potential to get destroyed as women had to decide if they wanted to work for the war or to fight for the vote (National park service). In an interview with Alice Paul, it was shown she was someone who refused to stop working for the right to vote even with the war going on (Amelia R. Fry 1). Carrie Clintpne Lane, a skilled political strategist, believed that women should be entering the war even if they seek rights, as the role of women could prove to be vital. (Debra 1)
Carrie Catts' idea was a very important decision in women's history as the involvement of women paved the way for new jobs and roles socially, politically, and economically. Women during the war would sell bonds and distribute food. Many women's groups raised and made supplies to send overseas. The mobilization of women physically was useful for the social and political roles that women wanted. Catt believed that it was a natural human right for women to be involved in politics in equal spaces with men. If women were able to vote, they would be able to fight more for world peace and help improve the conditions of life for people like themselves and their children. Carrie Catt’s main goal was world peace and she believed equal rights for both genders was a big step to creating a sort of peace in the world.
As the end of WWI came to be, President Wilson was forced to support the women's suffrage amendment and saw that they had a vital role in the war. President Willson supported the passage of the 19th amendment and on august 26th 1920 the 19th amendment became a legal law. (19th amendment)
Throughout this investigation, I have learned and gained insight into some methods that historians may have used to gain more historical knowledge. I feel that I have slowly improved on a vital skill in studying history, by analyzing sources from different points of view to develop a well-defined argument. To work on this investigation I have read books, articles, and government documents made by reliable historians on this topic. Many of my methods are also used by historians as well.
Through working on this investigation I found it difficult to reach a conclusion, but as I kept researching I began to understand what the work of historians meant better. While studying history, unlike other topics like science and mathematics, there is no way to find the real truth and answer to things, meaning that there is not an accurate answer to everything and it is the job of a historian to find the most reliable answer. This often involves finding the value and limitations of several sources to find the truth of a question. For example, I found that the evidence in “Women's suffrage in the progressive era” was more reliable than the “Women's suffrage timeline” and more valuable as the article shows more about the important people like Susan B. Antony and many more who were involved in the National Woman suffrage association which had a major impact on women's rights compared to the timeline which only stated simple facts. I deemed the Article a more reliable source as it was a persuasive and informative piece of writing and the effects of it had a huge impact.
In conclusion, this investigation has taught me a valuable skill of insight onto various tasks and challenges that many historians have gone through and the understating of the reliability of a source before giving my thoughts on it.
- “Woman Suffrage TIMELINE (1840-1920).” History of U.S. Woman's Suffrage, www.crusadeforthevote.orgwoman-suffrage-timeline-18401920.
- “Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, www.archives.goveducationlessonswoman-suffrage#toc-primary-sources-2.
- “19Th Amendment to the U.S. CONSTITUTION: Women's Right to VOTE (1920).
- ” OurDocuments - 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920), www.ourdocuments.govdoc.php?flash=false