WOMEN & MINORITIES IN THE PROGRESSIVE ERA
1. Give students the following list of people:
Carrie Chapman Catt
Booker T. Washington
Mary Harris Jones
Ida Wells Barnett
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
2. Give students the quotes on the following pages.
3. Working in pairs, allow students to use their books or online
resources to do some brief research on who each of the people
above were and what they did.
4. Students then determine which of the people above would be the
source of each of the quotes. Answers may be used more than once.
5. The first pair to get all of the quotes matched with their source
6. Recap the activity by going over the accompanying notes.
WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN THE PROGRESSIVE ERA
1. “I went up to the miners’ camp…and listened to their stories. I talked to Mrs.Sevilla
whose unborn child had been kicked dead by gunmen while her husband was out
looking for work. I learned how the scabs had been recruited in the cities, locked in
boxcars, and delivered to the mines like so much pork. “I think the strike is lost,
Mother,” said an old miner whose son had been killed. “Lost! Not until your souls are
lost!” said I.
2. Women of the working class, especially wage workers, should not have more than
two children at most. The average working man can support no more and the
average working woman can take care of no more in decent fashion…The working
woman can use direct action by refusing to supply the market with children to be
exploited, by refusing to populate the earth with slaves. It is also the one most direct
method for you working women to help yourself today.
3. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in
writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor
should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.
4. Logically the electorate should be made up of those who can bear a valiant part in
this arduous contest, those who in the past have at least attempted to care for
children, to clean houses, to prepare foods, to isolate the family from moral dangers;
those who have traditionally taken care of that side of life which inevitably becomes
the subject of municipal consideration and control as soon as the population is
congested. City housekeeping has failed partly because women, the traditional
housekeepers, have not been consulted as to its multiform activities.
5. The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social
equality is the extremest folly, and that progress in the enjoyment of all the privileges
that will come to us must be the result of severe and constant struggle. Cast down
your bucket where you are.
6. …Perhaps even in those first days we made a beginning toward that object which
was afterwards stated in our charter: to institute and maintain education and
philanthropic enterprises, and to investigate and improve the conditions in the
industrial districts of Chicago.
7. …We demand a fair trial by law for those accused of crime, and punishment by law
after honest conviction. No maudlin sympathy for criminals is solicited, but we do
ask that the law shall punish all alike. Can you remain silent and inactive when such
things are done in our own community and country? Is your duty to humanity in the
U.S. less binding?
8. We must insist continually, in season and out of season, that voting is necessary to
modern manhood, that discrimination is barbarism, and that black boys need
education as well as white boys. In failing thus to state plainly and unequivocally the
legitimate demands of their people, even at the cost of opposing an honored leader,
the thinking classes of American Negroes would shirk a heavy responsibility…
9. It is time that women quit subscribing to a slave mentality, stop being servants to
men, and demand economic equality and freedom. Meanwhile, women must not be
blandished by such superficial “cures” of basic ills as merely gaining the vote, being
handed somewhat more varied jobs and a little more money, and being allowed to
support superficially helpful legislation. Instead, women must demand true sexual
equality, in and out of marriage, and psychologically satisfying employment outside
the home. Until we can see what we are, we cannot take steps to become what we
10. We take no saloon-keepers, not even a saloon-keeper’s wife. We will have nothing
to do with men who have capital invested in a business which is the greatest curse
the poor have ever known. I …hope the pledge of total abstinence might be made a
test of membership.
11. By every civilized and peaceful method we must strive for the rights which the world
accords to men, clinging unwaveringly to those great words which the sons of the
Fathers would fain forget: “We hold these truths…the burden belongs to the nation,
and the hands of none of us are clean if we bend not our energies to righting these
12. The vote is a tool with which to build a better nation - to provide for the common
welfare and to help humanity upward. Suffrage would aid society because it would
assist the weak, curtail vice, improve the home, and especially, improve the changes
for peace abroad and for democratic government at home.
ANSWERS TO PROGRESSIVE ERA QUOTES
1. Mary Harris Jones “Mother Jones” (1914)
2. Margaret Sanger (1917)
3. Booker T. Washington (1895)
4. Jane Addams (1906)
5. Booker T. Washington (1895)
6. Jane Addams (1910)
7. Ida Wells Barnett (1894)
8. W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
9. Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1896)
10. Frances Willard (1896)
11. W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)
12. Carrie Chapman Catt
TEACHER NOTES: WOMEN AND MINORITIES OF THE
Mary Harris “Mother” Jones
In 1871 Jones, the widow of an iron-molder who had died in 1867 in an epidemic in Memphis
She lost all her possessions in the great Chicago fire. She turned to the Knights of Labor for
assistance, attracted by their campaign for improved working conditions.
By 1890 she had herself become a highly visible figure in the American labor movement. She
traveled across the country, both organizing for the United Mine Workers and orating on her
own, supporting strikes, and galvanizing public support for labor with her slogan, "Join the
She was one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party in 1898 and of the Industrial
Workers of the World in 1905.
The sixth of 11 children, she attended Claverack College and then took nurse's training in
New York at the White Plains Hospital and the Manhattan Eye and Ear Clinic.
After a brief teaching career she practiced obstetrical nursing on the Lower East Side of New
York City, where she witnessed the relationships between poverty, uncontrolled fertility, high
rates of infant and maternal mortality, and deaths from botched illegal abortions. These
observations made Sanger a feminist who believed in every woman's right to avoid unwanted
She was indicted for mailing materials advocating birth control, but the charges were dropped
in 1916. Later that year she opened in Brooklyn the first birth-control clinic in the United
Sanger's legal appeals prompted the federal courts first to grant physicians the right to give
advice about birth-control methods and then, in 1936, to reinterpret the Comstock Act of 1873
(which had classified contraceptive literature and devices as obscene materials) in such a
way as to permit physicians to import and prescribe contraceptives.
In 1921 Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, and she served as its president
until 1928. The league was one of the parent organizations of the Birth Control Federation of
America, which in 1942 became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Booker T Washington
He was born in a slave hut
At the age of nine he began working, first in a salt furnace and later in a coal mine.
He enrolled at the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in Virginia (1872), working as a
janitor to help pay expenses.
In 1881 Washington was selected to head a newly established normal school for blacks at
Tuskegee, an institution with two small, converted buildings, no equipment, and very little
Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute became a monument to his life's work. At his
death 34 years later, it had more than 100 well-equipped buildings, some 1,500 students,
a faculty of nearly 200 teaching 38 trades and professions, and an endowment of
Washington believed that the best interests of black people in the post-Reconstruction era
could be realized through education in the crafts and industrial skills and the cultivation of the
virtues of patience, enterprise, and thrift.
He urged his fellow blacks, to temporarily abandon their efforts to win full civil rights and
political power and instead to cultivate their industrial and farming skills so as to attain
economic security. Blacks would thus accept segregation and discrimination, but their
eventual acquisition of wealth and culture would gradually win for them the respect and
acceptance of the white community. This would break down the divisions between the two
races and lead to equal citizenship for blacks in the end.
Washington's visit to the White House in 1901 was greeted with a storm of protest as a
"breach of racial etiquette."
Among his dozen books is his autobiography, Up from Slavery (1901)
Graduated from Rockford Female Seminary in Illinois in 1881
Traveled to Europe and visited settlement homes in England
In a working-class immigrant district in Chicago, she acquired a large vacant residence built
by Charles Hull in 1856, and, calling it Hull House, they moved into it on September 18, 1889.
Eventually the settlement included 13 buildings and a playground, as well as a camp near
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Among the facilities at Hull House were a day nursery, a
gymnasium, a community kitchen, and a boarding club for working girls.
Hull House offered college-level courses in various subjects, furnished training in art,
music, and crafts such as bookbinding
Addams worked with labor as well as other reform groups toward goals including the first
juvenile-court law, tenement-house regulation, an eight-hour working day for women, factory
inspection, and workers' compensation.
She strove in addition for justice for immigrants and blacks, advocated research aimed at
determining the causes of poverty and crime, and supported woman suffrage.
In 1931 she was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Ida Wells Barnett
Ida Wells was the daughter of slaves. She was educated at Rust University, a freedmen's
school in her native Holly Springs, Mississippi, and at age 14 began teaching in a country
In 1887 the Tennessee Supreme Court, reversing a Circuit Court decision, ruled against
Wells in a suit she had brought against the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad for having been
forcibly removed from her seat after she had refused to give it up for one in a "colored only"
1892, after three friends of hers had been lynched by a mob, Wells began an editorial
campaign against lynching that quickly led to the sacking of her newspaper's office.
She published a detailed look at lynching in A Red Record (1895); and was active in
organizing localAfrican American women in various causes, from the antilynching campaign
to the suffrage movement
From 1898 to 1902 Wells-Barnett served as secretary of the National Afro-American Council,
and in 1910 she founded and became first president of the Negro Fellowship League, which
aided newly arrived migrants from the South.
Though she spoke for the Niagara Movement, she would have nothing to do with the less
radical National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that came out of it.
WEB Du Bois
Du Bois was graduated from Fisk University, a black institution at Nashville I
In 1888. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1895.
In 1903, in his famous book The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois charged that Washington's
strategy, rather than freeing the black man from oppression, would serve only to perpetuate
it. This attack crystallized the opposition to Booker T. Washington among many black
intellectuals, polarizing the leaders of the black community into two wings--the "conservative"
supporters of Washington and his "radical" critics.
Two years later, in 1905, Du Bois took the lead in founding the Niagara Movement, which
was dedicated chiefly to attacking the platform of Booker T. Washington. The small group
was weakened by internal squabbles and Washington's opposition. But it was significant as
an ideological forerunner and direct inspiration for the interracial NAACP, founded in 1909.
Du Bois served as NAACP director of research and editor of its magazine, The Crisis.
Both in the Niagara Movement and in the NAACP, Du Bois acted mainly as an integrationist,
but his thinking always exhibited, to varying degrees, separatist-nationalist tendencies.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Perkins began writing poems and stories for various periodicals. She also became a noted
lecturer during the early 1890s on such social topics as labor, ethics, and woman's place.
After a short period of residence at Jane Addams's Hull House in Chicago in 1895, she spent
the next five years in national lecture tours.
In 1898, Perkins published Women and Economics, a manifesto that attracted great attention
and was translated into seven languages. In a radical call for economic independence for
women, she dissected much of the romanticized convention surrounding contemporary ideas
of womanhood and motherhood. Her notions of redefining domestic and child-care chores as
social responsibilities to be centralized in the hands of those particularly suited and trained for
them reflected her earlier interest in pragmatism.
From 1909 to 1916 Gilman edited and published the monthly Forerunner, a magazine of
feminist articles, views, and fiction. She also contributed to other periodicals.
Gilman joined Jane Addams in founding the Woman's Peace Party in 1915.
When the Evanston College for Ladies was absorbed by Northwestern in 1873, Willard
became dean of women and professor of English and art.
Just at that time the so-called "Woman's Crusade," a wave of antiliquor agitation among
women, was swelling, and a group of Chicago women invited Willard to become president of
their temperance organization.
In October 1874 she was elected secretary of the newly organized state temperance society,
and in November, at the Cleveland organizing convention, she was chosen corresponding
secretary of the national Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).
At the national WCTU's 1879 convention, Willard became president of the WCTU, which she
would continue for the rest of her life.
Under her leadership the WCTU quickly evolved into a well-organized group able to mount
campaigns of public education and political pressure on many fronts. Willard traveled
constantly and spoke frequently--in 1883 she spoke in every state of the Union--and was a
regular lecturer at the summer Lake Chautauqua meetings in New York.
Carrie Chapman Catt
Attended Iowa State College (now University), and graduated in 1880
After a short time spent reading law, she became a high-school principal in Mason City, Iowa,
in 1881. Two years later she was appointed superintendent of schools, one of the first
women to hold such a position.
From 1887 to 1890 she devoted herself to organizing the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association.
Her marriage to George W. Catt, an engineer, in 1890, was unusual in its prenuptial legal
contract providing her with four months of free time each year to work exclusively for woman
In 1900 she was elected to succeed Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American
Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The success of a second New York state
referendum in 1917, followed by President Woodrow Wilson's conversion to the cause of
suffrage in 1918 attested the effectiveness of Catt's flexible strategy of working at both
federal and state levels to build support for woman suffrage.
Tireless lobbying in Congress and then in state legislatures finally produced a ratified
Nineteenth Amendment in August 1920. The final triumph was in large part a tribute to her
imaginative and tactful leadership. After its adoption, Catt reorganized the suffrage
association--two million strong--into the League of Women Voters in order to work for
continuing progressive legislation throughout the nation.
She actively supported the League of Nations, relief for Jewish refugees from Germany, and
a child labor amendment. She was also a strong advocate of international disarmament and