Women's Influence

During the Progressive Era, women claimed more public and leadership roles for themselves, especially in the nation's urban centers. There, confronted by the diseases, filth, poor sanitation, and horrible working conditions that characterized the lives of working-class Americans, many middle-class white women tried to offer solutions.  Many followed in the footsteps of Jane Addams, founder of Chicago's famous Hull House and one of the most prominent and respected American progressives.  As the caption from this June 11, 1910, Woman's Journal photograph indicates, Addams was very interested in applying her expertise to the problems of the nation's cities.  Significantly, she argues that the problems of cities result, in part, because "women, the traditional housekeepers, have not been consulted as to its multiform activities." Arguing that city management resembled enlarged housekeeping, Addams stakes a claim for women's involvement in the political process and in city government. As the following cartoons demonstrate, Addams did not make these arguments by herself.







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