Browse Social Movements

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Name Description Founding year Related works
Massachusetts Public Interests League The Massachusetts Public Interests League (MPIL) campaigned against woman suffrage in 1915 and later attacked women’s organizations during the so-called Red Scare. In 1925, membership was said to extend to 118 cit... The Massachusetts Public Interests League (MPIL) campaigned against woman suffrage in 1915 and later attacked women’s organizations during the so-called Red Scare. In 1925, membership was said to extend to 118 cities, 20 states and the District of Columbia. Margaret Robinson was a longstanding president. Show more Show less 1915 1
Movement to End Violence Against Women From the 1960s onward, women’s groups protested violence women suffered at the hands of men and the lack of protection offered to women victims by police and the legal system. Alongside providing shelters for batt... From the 1960s onward, women’s groups protested violence women suffered at the hands of men and the lack of protection offered to women victims by police and the legal system. Alongside providing shelters for battered women, women publicized the issue of violence, holding national conferences, and demanding legislative protections and reforms. As a result of this movement, in 1994 Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which responded to the inadequacies of state justice systems in dealing with violent crimes against women. Show more Show less 1960 1
National American Woman Suffrage Association In 1890 the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, joined Lucy Stone’s American Woman’s Suffrage Association (AWSA) to form the National American Woman Su... In 1890 the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, joined Lucy Stone’s American Woman’s Suffrage Association (AWSA) to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The suffrage movement had split in 1869 over the issue of black male suffrage in the Fifteenth Amendment. From 1890 to 1920 when woman suffrage was finally added to the U.S. Constitution, NAWSA was the dominant national suffrage organization. Show more Show less 1890 22
National Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women, 2nd : 1838 May 15-18 : Philadelphia, PA Held in the newly built Pennsylvania Hall, May 15-18, 1838. The Hall was burned down by a mob the night of May 17, and the final day of the Convention was held in the Cherry Street school. This was the first anti-sl... Held in the newly built Pennsylvania Hall, May 15-18, 1838. The Hall was burned down by a mob the night of May 17, and the final day of the Convention was held in the Cherry Street school. This was the first anti-slavery convention to have both men and women in the audience. President was Mary L. Parker, president of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. Show more Show less 1838 4
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People In 1909 W.E.B. Du Bois, other participants in the Niagara Movement, women activists including Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and other African-American critics of Booker T. Washington united with whit... In 1909 W.E.B. Du Bois, other participants in the Niagara Movement, women activists including Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and other African-American critics of Booker T. Washington united with white supporters to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Still an important representative of African American interests, the NAACP has a long history of defending and expanding black civil rights. Show more Show less 1909 20
National Association of Colored Women In the 1890s amid increasing racial tensions a national club movement emerged among black women that led to the formation of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in Washington, D.C. in 1896. The first pr... In the 1890s amid increasing racial tensions a national club movement emerged among black women that led to the formation of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) in Washington, D.C. in 1896. The first president of the NACW was Mary Church Terrell. "Lifting As We Climb" became the Association's motto, and members coordinated their efforts to improve the condition of African Americans in the United States. In 1915 more than 100,000 women were NACW members. The NACW is still active today working toward improving the lives of African American women and children. Show more Show less 1896 65
National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) was founded in New York in 1911 to lobby against woman suffrage on the state and federal levels. Membership peaked between 1911 and 1916, when NAOWS claimed... The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) was founded in New York in 1911 to lobby against woman suffrage on the state and federal levels. Membership peaked between 1911 and 1916, when NAOWS claimed a membership of 350,000. Beginning in 1916 the Association published a magazine, The Woman Patriot, to disseminate anti-suffrage views. Important leaders included Mrs. Alice Hay Wadsworth, Mrs. Robert Lansing, Margaret C. Robinson and Ann Squire. Show more Show less 1911 3
National Birth Control League The National Birth Control League (NBCL) formed in 1915 under the leadership of Mary Ware Dennett, who lobbied for repeal of federal and state statutes that defined birth control as "obscene." By 1919, the National... The National Birth Control League (NBCL) formed in 1915 under the leadership of Mary Ware Dennett, who lobbied for repeal of federal and state statutes that defined birth control as "obscene." By 1919, the National Birth Control League had disbanded due to financial difficulties and Dennett's decision to found the Voluntary Parenthood League. Show more Show less 1915 1
National Congress of Mothers Founded by Alice McLellan Birney in 1897, the National Congress of Mothers was the forerunner of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. The Congress mobilized thousands of largely white, middle-class women o... Founded by Alice McLellan Birney in 1897, the National Congress of Mothers was the forerunner of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers. The Congress mobilized thousands of largely white, middle-class women on behalf of child-saving activism in the early years of the twentieth century, most notably support for mothers’ pensions. In 1924 the Congress became the National Congress of Parents and Teachers in an effort to distance itself from accusations of radical politics. Inspired by such leaders as Hannah Schoff, Congress activists also lobbied for the creation of nationwide juvenile courts in the early twentieth century. Show more Show less 1897 7
National Council of Women of the United States The National Council of Women (NCW) was founded in 1888 as the national section of the International Council of Women. The NCW aimed to "promote the welfare of all women of the country" and became an umbrella organi... The National Council of Women (NCW) was founded in 1888 as the national section of the International Council of Women. The NCW aimed to "promote the welfare of all women of the country" and became an umbrella organization for numerous women’s organizations including the American Association of University Women and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Show more Show less 1888 9
National League of Women Voters The League of Women Voters (LWV) is a United States nonpartisan organization that formed out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1920. In addition to a domestic focus on voter education, t... The League of Women Voters (LWV) is a United States nonpartisan organization that formed out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1920. In addition to a domestic focus on voter education, the LWV developed international committees to address foreign affairs. In its early years, the LWV established the Department of International Cooperation to Prevent War, which focused on peace work. In 1947 it set up the Carrie Chapman Catt Memorial Fund to provide civic education to women whose countries were transitioning to democratic governments. The name of the Memorial Fund changed to the Overseas Education Fund (OEF) in 1961 and OEF International in 1986. This digital archive includes selected international material from the Department of International Cooperation in the 1920s and 1930s and OEF International material from the 1940s to the 1990s. Show more Show less 1919 647
National Organization for Women The National Organization for Women was formed in 1966 by a group of women frustrated with the failure of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of sex discr... The National Organization for Women was formed in 1966 by a group of women frustrated with the failure of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of sex discrimination. NOW was broadly conceived as a feminist organization dedicated to addressing sex and gender discrimination. Through lobbying, legal action, picketing, demonstrations, and marches, NOW supported a variety of causes, including the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, the repeal of restrictive abortion laws, publicly funded child care, the end of sex discrimination in employment, equal treatment of women and men in public accommodations, and lesbian rights. Show more Show less 1966 17
National Woman Suffrage Association Founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony after the demise of the American Equal Rights Association, this woman suffrage organization supported a wide range of women's rights issues. Led by an all-women... Founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony after the demise of the American Equal Rights Association, this woman suffrage organization supported a wide range of women's rights issues. Led by an all-women slate of officers, the Association promoted a conscious strategy of organizing women independently of male-dominated political parties. Competition between the National and the American Woman Suffrage Association (see above) divided the woman suffrage movement until the two organizations merged in 1890. Show more Show less 1869 10
National Woman's Party, US In 1916 Alice Paul, founder of the militant suffragist organization, the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CUWS), mobilized her supporters to launch the National Woman's Party (NWP). The NWP used civil disobedi... In 1916 Alice Paul, founder of the militant suffragist organization, the Congressional Union of Woman Suffrage (CUWS), mobilized her supporters to launch the National Woman's Party (NWP). The NWP used civil disobedience tactics to promote the passage of the woman suffrage amendment. Paul’s strategies contributed to the passage of the federal Suffrage Amendment in 1919 and its ratification in 1920. After 1920 the NWP turned its attention to the passage of an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Show more Show less 1916 20
National Women's Conference : 1977 Nov. 18-21: Houston, TX Held in Houston in 1977, the National Women’s Conference was funded by Congress and supported by leaders within the Democratic and Republican parties. The wives of four presidents attended along with more than 20,... Held in Houston in 1977, the National Women’s Conference was funded by Congress and supported by leaders within the Democratic and Republican parties. The wives of four presidents attended along with more than 20,000 women, children, and men. Bella Abzug presided. The Houston conference marked a high point in the history of feminism during the second half of the twentieth century. State conventions preceded the national meeting, where delegates considered a "national plan" of legislation designed to improve women’s lives. Show more Show less 1977 4
New England Woman Suffrage Association Founded in 1868, the Association concentrated its focus exclusively on woman suffrage and contributed to the emergence of the American Woman Suffrage Association (see above) to channel women reformers' support for t... Founded in 1868, the Association concentrated its focus exclusively on woman suffrage and contributed to the emergence of the American Woman Suffrage Association (see above) to channel women reformers' support for the Fifteenth Amendment. Early leaders included Lucy Stone and Isabella Beecher Hooker. Show more Show less 1868 5
New York Female Moral Reform Society The New York Female Moral Reform Society, (founded in 1834 and renamed the American Female Moral Reform Society in 1839) and the Boston Female Moral Reform Society (founded in 1835 and renamed the New England Female... The New York Female Moral Reform Society, (founded in 1834 and renamed the American Female Moral Reform Society in 1839) and the Boston Female Moral Reform Society (founded in 1835 and renamed the New England Female Moral Reform Society in 1838) were umbrella organizations that brought together more than 50,000 members in 600 societies in New England, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Part of the mobilization of women during the Second Great Awakening, moral reform societies worked in villages and cities to eliminate prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation of women, including the sexual double standard. Expressing values associated with the demographic transition from high to low birth rates (1800-1900), moral reform encouraged women to control access to their bodies. The nation's first explicitly female social movement, moral reform offered many middle-class women their first opportunity to venture into the public arena and agitate for social change on behalf of women. Show more Show less 1834 1
Populist Movement The Populist Movement gained prominence in the United States and Canada in the final quarter of the nineteenth century, organizing farmers and workers to support third-party politics aimed at opposing the economic a... The Populist Movement gained prominence in the United States and Canada in the final quarter of the nineteenth century, organizing farmers and workers to support third-party politics aimed at opposing the economic and political power of corporate wealth. Banks and railroads were favorite targets of Populists’ ire. In the United States, Populists had considerable political success in the late 1880's and early '90s with the Populist Party. The movement declined as an independent political movement with the nomination in 1896 of William Jennings Bryan as a Democratic candidate for President on a platform calling for the free coinage of silver. Show more Show less 1880 1
Populist Party In the 1890s the Populist Party united farmers and urban dwellers into a significant third party through which members sought to gain relief from debt, promoted reform of the monetary system, opposed monopolies and... In the 1890s the Populist Party united farmers and urban dwellers into a significant third party through which members sought to gain relief from debt, promoted reform of the monetary system, opposed monopolies and big business, and advocated the nationalization of railroads. Reflecting the participation of women in its ranks, the Party strongly supported woman suffrage and temperance. Show more Show less 1892 2
Religious Society of Friends 1652 17
Second Great Awakening "The Second Great Awakening” was a religious movement within Anglo-American Protestantism that emphasized the power of human agency when released from the bondage of sin. The Second Great Awakening was named after... "The Second Great Awakening” was a religious movement within Anglo-American Protestantism that emphasized the power of human agency when released from the bondage of sin. The Second Great Awakening was named after the Great Awakening of the 1740s, which it resembled and amplified. Called evangelical because it emphasized the “good news” from the New Testament gospels, it created the largest subculture within American public life. Because the separation of church and state in the United States (1776-1840) forced churches to rely financially on voluntary contributions rather than taxes, churches competed with one another for members which made laypeople more powerful. Because religion embraced Romanticism’s emphasis on human emotions, subjective experience became as important as theological doctrines. Influenced by these trends, and because women constituted a majority of most congregations, the voices of women became much more important in American religious life and thereby in American public life in the 1830s. Show more Show less 1800 1
Settlement House Movement The first social settlement in the United States was founded in New York City in 1886; by 1910 there were 400 in cities throughout the United States. Settlements brought middle-class reformers to live in working-cl... The first social settlement in the United States was founded in New York City in 1886; by 1910 there were 400 in cities throughout the United States. Settlements brought middle-class reformers to live in working-class immigrant neighborhoods, where they undertook a variety of social reforms and became experts in the nation’s social, economic and political problems. Women dominated the movement, both as leaders and as settlement house residents. The effects of the movement were felt at the municipal, state and federal levels. Allied with trade unionists, intellectuals, medical professionals, immigrant leaders and reform politicians, settlement experts sought to Americanize recent immigrants and at the same time drafted legislation that promoted better living and working conditions for immigrant working people in American cities. Their effect continued in the New Deal of the 1930s. Show more Show less 1886 3
Social Purity Movement The social purity movement began in the 1870s in response to efforts to regulate prostitution in American cities; social purists organized to defeat efforts to regulate prostitution, believing that prostitution was... The social purity movement began in the 1870s in response to efforts to regulate prostitution in American cities; social purists organized to defeat efforts to regulate prostitution, believing that prostitution was a social evil that needed to be abolished. The key organization in this movement was the New York Committee for the Prevention of the State Regulation of Vice, led by Abby Hopper Gibbons, Emily Blackwell, Aaron Macy Powell and his wife, Anna Rice Powell, and Elizabeth Gay and founded in the 1870s. The movement’s main supporters consisted of white middle-class women as well as supporters from the suffrage movement and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Show more Show less 1870 6
Students for a Democratic Society Students for Democratic Society helped launch the student movement of the 1960s, leading the generation born after 1940 to identify themselves as culturally distinct from their elders. The Port Huron Statement, issu... Students for Democratic Society helped launch the student movement of the 1960s, leading the generation born after 1940 to identify themselves as culturally distinct from their elders. The Port Huron Statement, issued at the 1962 SDS convention, called for participatory democracy, and the right of people to shape the decisions that governed their lives. Early SDS projects focused on urban community organizing and civil rights. SDS grew dramatically as a leading voice of the student antiwar movement and was closely associated with the counterculture of the 1960’s. Growing factionalism led to the splintering of SDS in 1969 and the emergence of the Weather Underground. Show more Show less 1960 2
Temperance Movement The movement to limit the consumption of alcohol began around 1800, when alcohol consumption was at an all-time high in the United States. Sobriety became a value associated with modernizing trends that included sel... The movement to limit the consumption of alcohol began around 1800, when alcohol consumption was at an all-time high in the United States. Sobriety became a value associated with modernizing trends that included self control and individualism, and was supported by working-class as well as middle-class Protestants. Dominated by men before 1860, the temperance movement nevertheless offered women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton a forum where they developed public speaking skills. In the depression winter of 1873-74, the women’s temperance movement exploded in Ohio with public demonstrations in which women protested the effects of men’s alchohol consumption on women and families. Organized by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the women’s temperance movement worked closely with the woman suffrage movement and became the most important vehicle for the participation of both black and white women in public life between 1873 and 1900. Although WCTU membership remained high and their international efforts were notable after 1900, other women’s organizations emerged to shape women’s activism in the decades before 1920. The passage of the prohibition amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1919 was largely due to the efforts of men in the anti-saloon league, a much more conservative organization than the WCTU. Show more Show less 1800 65

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