Exiles and rebels : women in the American left 1900-1920 Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/41687n45d

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  • Between 1900 and 1920 women were responsible for much of the social and political activity in the United States. Recent work by feminist historians has revealed that women were interested in a broad range of issues at the turn of the twentieth century. The American Left addressed such issues as workers' rights, labor conditions, birth control, suffrage, and socialism. Mother Jones, Kate Richards O'Hare, Margaret Sanger, and Emma Goldman were among the most prominent women in the Left. They found that the Left provided them with forums as writers, speakers, and demonstrators. Jones was critical of women who worked outside the home, although their income often was necessary for the family's survival. Jones did not support woman suffrage, yet she bemoaned the plight of female workers who needed the ballot to improve their working conditions. Like Jones, Kate Richards O'Hare believed that a woman's responsibility was to remain at home with her children. However, O'Hare supported woman suffrage because she believed that women's votes could help usher in socialism. O'Hare supported the Socialist party unflinchingly. Margaret Sanger began her political career as a brash radical. When Sanger no longer found the Left useful in her fight for accessible birth control, she sought out influential conservatives to support her work. Emma Goldman devoted her life to political and social causes. Goldman's primary interest was anarchism, but she also supported such causes as accessible birth control. Goldman's activities brought her into contact with Sanger and O'Hare. As the American Left splintered over the United States' entry into the war, Jones, O'Hare, Sanger, and Goldman women found that many of their opinions changed. A careful examination of speeches, personal letters, essays, and autobiographies reveals how their opinions, activities, and tactics developed and changed during the first two decades of this century.
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