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date: 20 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

American women’s history is often understood as unfolding in two movement “waves”: the movement for political equality (suffrage) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the movement for social and economic equality a half-century later. In the period between these two waves, women supposedly retreated from the public sphere. This chapter argues that the inter-wave era was actually a politically vibrant time for American women. Millions of middle-class White women joined membership organizations to lobby for a wide array of foreign and domestic policy changes. Working-class women built up unions and labor auxiliaries and gained political experience that would feed the feminist movement of the 1960s–1970s. Women of color created thriving advocacy organizations that simultaneously represented intersectional perspectives and connected local service organizations to nation-spanning political movements. Conservative women formed their own organizations to push back against the progressive, internationalist bent of their more liberal counterparts.

Keywords: women’s history, political movements, feminism, suffrage, labor, union

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