Browse Social Movements

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Name Description Founding year Related works
Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage Alice Paul and others founded the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CUWS) in 1913 as an American version of the militant British Women’s Social and Political Union. CUWS members engaged in civil disobedience,... Alice Paul and others founded the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CUWS) in 1913 as an American version of the militant British Women’s Social and Political Union. CUWS members engaged in civil disobedience, chaining themselves to the White House fence and going on hunger strikes in jail, which catapulted them to prominence within the suffrage movement. In 1916 Paul and her CUWS allies launched the National Woman's Party (NWP). Show more Show less 1913 2
Daughters of Bilitis The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was a lesbian social and political organization formed in San Francisco in 1955 by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Though the DOB often worked with the Mattachine Society and others in th... The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was a lesbian social and political organization formed in San Francisco in 1955 by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. Though the DOB often worked with the Mattachine Society and others in the male-dominated homophile movement, members of the DOB insisted on recognizing their dual experiences as both women and lesbians. In October 1956 the DOB began publishing The Ladder, which over its sixteen years of publication would address contemporary attitudes about lesbians, the growing gay rights movement, and the emergence of the women’s liberation movement. Show more Show less 1955 1
Daughters of the American Revolution Founded in 1891, and still in existence today, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was the female counterpart to numerous male patriotic societies that sprang up in the 1890s. Initially, the Daughters ref... Founded in 1891, and still in existence today, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was the female counterpart to numerous male patriotic societies that sprang up in the 1890s. Initially, the Daughters refrained from purely political activities, instead devoting themselves to promoting patriotic celebrations and erecting monuments and markers to honor Revolutionary forefathers. During World War I, DAR members supported war work. After the end of World War I, the DAR opposed women’s pacifist groups including the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Show more Show less 1891 6
Dress Reform The dress reform movement of the 1840s and 50s responded to the fact that, while men's clothing had become more restrained and utilitarian in the decades before 1840, women's clothing became more ornamental and dysf... The dress reform movement of the 1840s and 50s responded to the fact that, while men's clothing had become more restrained and utilitarian in the decades before 1840, women's clothing became more ornamental and dysfunctional. Reformers promoted the wearing of trousers (popularly known as “Bloomers”) among women. Three different strands of reformers can be distinguished within this social movement: the water curists, the Oneida Community, and woman's rights reformers. Notable figures in this movement include John Humphrey Noyes of the Oneida community, and the women’s rights activists Elizabeth Smith Miller, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Amelia Bloomer. Show more Show less 1840 5
Edenton Ladies' Patriotic Guild On October 25, 1774, fifty-one women from prominent families in Edenton, North Carolina, created the Edenton Ladies' Patriotic Guild. Comprising one of the earliest instances of organized political activity by women... On October 25, 1774, fifty-one women from prominent families in Edenton, North Carolina, created the Edenton Ladies' Patriotic Guild. Comprising one of the earliest instances of organized political activity by women in the American colonies, Guild members signed a boycott resolution, which they published with their names in a newspaper. Show more Show less 1774 1
Eight-Hour Day Movement Long a goal of labor activists and the issue around which numerous workers’ organizations had formed, the demand for an eight-hour work day increased in the 1880s and 1890s. Both men and women labor activists embr... Long a goal of labor activists and the issue around which numerous workers’ organizations had formed, the demand for an eight-hour work day increased in the 1880s and 1890s. Both men and women labor activists embraced the demand for an eight-hour day in manufacturing industries where the hours of labor commonly exceeded twelve. The campaign for an eight hour day was fought in two ways: unions sought contracts with employers and unions and reformers demanded workplace legislation that would limit working hours. In the 1880s the Knights of Labor were prominent in the movement for an eight-hour day. Show more Show less 1880 5
Equal Rights Amendment Movement After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party conceived of a plan for a new amendment to promote equal rights for women more generally. Written in 1921, and first... After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party conceived of a plan for a new amendment to promote equal rights for women more generally. Written in 1921, and first introduced into Congress in 1923, it finally passed the House and Senate in 1972. Professional women’s organizations predominated in the early movement as women’s labor interests opposed the ERA until the 1960s, viewing it as a threat to protective legislation for women. By the 1970s a broader coalition of women’s groups came to support the ERA in the changed economic and social climate. Show more Show less 1920 17
Female Moral Reform Movement Moral reform was a campaign in the 1830s and '40s to abolish sexual licentiousness, prostitution, and the sexual double standard, and to promote sexual abstinence among the young as they entered the marriage market.... Moral reform was a campaign in the 1830s and '40s to abolish sexual licentiousness, prostitution, and the sexual double standard, and to promote sexual abstinence among the young as they entered the marriage market. By 1841, approximately 50,000 women had joined more than 600 local Female Moral Reform Societies (FMRS). Moral reform was the nation’s first explicitly female social movement, comprised of women and led by women. Show more Show less 1835 4
Feminism, 1960s- Feminism, dedicated to greater equality between men and women, reemerged as a central feature of public life in the 1960s, partly inspired by the burgeoning social movements of that decade: the New Left, the civil... Feminism, dedicated to greater equality between men and women, reemerged as a central feature of public life in the 1960s, partly inspired by the burgeoning social movements of that decade: the New Left, the civil rights movement, opposition to the war in Vietnam, and gay rights. Feminist organizations were numerous and diverse, often competing with one another, and promoted a multitude of social and political issues, including the enforcement of Title VII in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited sex discrimination in employment; access to birth control and abortion; the elimination of pornography and domestic violence, the rights of women of color and lesbian rights. Though challenged by the rise of conservatism in the 1970s, feminist values and ideas changed American life in the last third of the twentieth century and the movement continues as a vital force in the twenty-first century. Show more Show less 1960 10
Foreign Missionary Movement Women's missionary enterprise was one of the earliest and largest social reform movements in the United States. The movement attracted evangelical women spurred by religious faith to promote Christianity at home and... Women's missionary enterprise was one of the earliest and largest social reform movements in the United States. The movement attracted evangelical women spurred by religious faith to promote Christianity at home and abroad. American laywomen were active participants in Protestant and Catholic missionary efforts in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Women's participation began in domestic fundraising for male-dominated foreign missions, but by the second half of the nineteenth century, laywomen began to organize separate women's boards and to set their own agendas for mission activity. By 1911 some two million women were members in groups that were part of the women's missionary movement. Typically sent abroad as teachers or ministers' wives, women carved out for themselves increasingly important roles in foreign missions. According to the scholar Jane Hunter, at the peak of mission activity women comprised two-thirds of all missionaries working abroad. Show more Show less 1830 2
Freedmen's Aid Movement After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, anti-slavery reformers went to the South to educate former slaves and supervise their work as free laborers. Women reformers often clashed with male government officials... After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, anti-slavery reformers went to the South to educate former slaves and supervise their work as free laborers. Women reformers often clashed with male government officials of the Freedmen’s Burueau who administered federal government programs for freedpeople. Show more Show less 1861 3
General Federation of Women's Clubs Founded in 1890 by Jane Cunningham Croly, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs became one of the largest women’s organizations in the country. As President in the 1890s, Ellen Herotin developed the Federation... Founded in 1890 by Jane Cunningham Croly, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs became one of the largest women’s organizations in the country. As President in the 1890s, Ellen Herotin developed the Federation’s political and social interests. Members worked for a variety of social reforms that would benefit women and children. In 1955 membership peaked at 830,000. The Federation continues to be a significant voluntary organization today. Show more Show less 1890 22
Guerrilla Girls A group of women artists whose membership remains anonymous, the Guerrilla Girls grew out of the women’s art movement of the 1970s. In April 1985 the Guerrilla Girls began displaying posters that scolded art galle... A group of women artists whose membership remains anonymous, the Guerrilla Girls grew out of the women’s art movement of the 1970s. In April 1985 the Guerrilla Girls began displaying posters that scolded art galleries, museums and critics for ignoring women artists and artists of color. Styling themselves as the gendered conscience of the art world the highly successful Guerrilla Girls presented themselves to the public in a unique way using gorilla masks, expressing their ideas clearly on black and white posters that listed the hard facts of sexism and racism in the art world, and used humor to show that feminists can be funny. Show more Show less 1985 1
Hull House Hull House, founded in Chicago in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, grew into the leading social settlement in the United States. Hull House residents provided space and resources for health, education, rec... Hull House, founded in Chicago in 1889 by Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr, grew into the leading social settlement in the United States. Hull House residents provided space and resources for health, education, recreation, and the exercise of citizenship rights in their poor, immigrant neighborhood. By 1910 more than 400 social settlements, staffed largely by college-educated women, were established in poor neighborhoods in American cities. Show more Show less 1889 10
Illinois Woman Suffrage Association Drawing on the activism of Frances Willard, subsequently President of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Association launched its first campaign for woman suffrage in Illinois in 1870. Women in Illinois fir... Drawing on the activism of Frances Willard, subsequently President of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Association launched its first campaign for woman suffrage in Illinois in 1870. Women in Illinois first won limited voting rights in school board elections in 1891 and the right to vote in presidential elections in 1913. Show more Show less 1870 3
Indiana State Woman Suffrage Association Affiliated with the National Woman Suffrage Association, Indiana's state suffrage association sponsored numerous campaigns to convince the state legislature to adopt woman suffrage. 1851 4
International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace The International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace grew out of the April 1915 International Congress of Women held in The Hague, Netherlands, to discuss ways to end World War I and achieve world peace. In 1919... The International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace grew out of the April 1915 International Congress of Women held in The Hague, Netherlands, to discuss ways to end World War I and achieve world peace. In 1919 the International Committee renamed itself the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Show more Show less 1915 1
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union Founded in 1900, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) initially represented a largely immigrant workforce. The ILGWU and the women within the union gained significant strength during the 1909 shirt... Founded in 1900, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) initially represented a largely immigrant workforce. The ILGWU and the women within the union gained significant strength during the 1909 shirtwaist strike. Throughout its history the ILGWU was a dominant force in the American labor movement with branches around the country. The Union became part of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) in 1995. Show more Show less 1900 6
International Women's Peace Movement From 1915 onwards women reformers, led by Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, promoted disarmament and world peace through organizations like the United States Women’s Peace Party (1915-1919), and the Women’s In... From 1915 onwards women reformers, led by Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, promoted disarmament and world peace through organizations like the United States Women’s Peace Party (1915-1919), and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (1919-). Show more Show less 1915 17
Iowa State Woman Suffrage Association The Association began as the Iowa Equal Rights Association, founded in 1870 and sponsor of various woman suffrage campaigns thereafter. By the mid-1880s suffrage activist Carrie Chapman Catt had joined the Associati... The Association began as the Iowa Equal Rights Association, founded in 1870 and sponsor of various woman suffrage campaigns thereafter. By the mid-1880s suffrage activist Carrie Chapman Catt had joined the Association as a writer and lecturer. Catt went on to become president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and to play a major role in lobbying effort that resulted in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Show more Show less 1870 3
Juvenile Court Movement From 1890 to 1915 a wave of juvenile reform (in which women played a prominent role) swept the nation and, within a few years, most states passed juvenile court legislation. Children were increasingly seen to have d... From 1890 to 1915 a wave of juvenile reform (in which women played a prominent role) swept the nation and, within a few years, most states passed juvenile court legislation. Children were increasingly seen to have different needs from adults in the justice system and were provided for accordingly. Show more Show less 1890 6
Kindergarten Movement The Kindergarten Movement in the United States emerged in the 1860s, influenced by the kindergarten movement in Germany. Developed initially among German immigrants, the movement in the United States advocated chil... The Kindergarten Movement in the United States emerged in the 1860s, influenced by the kindergarten movement in Germany. Developed initially among German immigrants, the movement in the United States advocated child-centered learning and guided play. Coinciding with industrialization and a wave of reform movements (from temperance to woman suffrage and dress reform), many women were drawn to the kindergarten movement by religious or ethical convictions. In the early twentieth century, urban kindergartens often aimed to help poor families by Americanizing immigrant children. Show more Show less 1848 1
Ladies Association of Philadelphia The Ladies Association of Philadelphia emerged during the Revolutionary War, 1780-81, as a patriotic organization among women in and near Philadelphia. Association members worked to supply material support to George... The Ladies Association of Philadelphia emerged during the Revolutionary War, 1780-81, as a patriotic organization among women in and near Philadelphia. Association members worked to supply material support to George Washington’s army -- in 1781, members sewed and delivered 2,000 linen shirts to soldiers. Through their work in the association, Esther Reed (1747-1780) and Sarah Franklin Bache (1743-1808), Benjamin Franklin’s daughter, created a public voice for women and anticipated the new democratic politics of the nineteenth century. Show more Show less 1780 1
League of Women Shoppers The League of Women Shoppers was formed in 1935 to serve as a middle-class ally to working people engaged in labor disputes. With the slogan "use your buying power for justice," the LWS challenged women to support f... The League of Women Shoppers was formed in 1935 to serve as a middle-class ally to working people engaged in labor disputes. With the slogan "use your buying power for justice," the LWS challenged women to support fair labor practices with their shopping dollars by purchasing union-produced goods, boycotting manufacturers who mistreated employees, donating to strike relief funds, and writing to store managers. The predominantly middle-class members of the LWS used their social position to attract media attention to the strikes and pickets of workers across race, class, and geographic lines. The LWS had chapters in many major cities—San Francisco, Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Hollywood—and worked with other reform organizations such as the National Consumers League. Show more Show less 1935 3
Massachusetts Federation of Women's Clubs The Massachusetts state affiliate of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (see above) provided a state federation for women's clubs offering social, literary and reform activities for women under the overall umbr... The Massachusetts state affiliate of the General Federation of Women's Clubs (see above) provided a state federation for women's clubs offering social, literary and reform activities for women under the overall umbrella of the General Federation. Its first president was Julia Ward Howe, suffragist and founder of the New England Women's Club in 1868. Show more Show less 1893 5

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