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The Women's Joint Congressional Committee and the Politics of Maternalism, 1920-30

Jan Doolittle Wilson

Publication Year: 2007

This is the first comprehensive history of the Womens Joint_x000B_Congressional Committee (WJCC), a large umbrella organization_x000B_founded by former suffrage leaders in 1920 in order to coordinate organized womens reform. Encompassing nearly every major national womens organization of its time, the WJCC evolved into a powerful lobbying force for the legislative agendas of twelve million women, and was recognized by critics and supporters alike as the most powerful lobby in Washington.? _x000B__x000B_Through a close examination of the WJCCs most consequential and contentious campaigns, Jan Doolittle Wilson demonstrates organized womens strategies and initial success in generating congressional and grassroots support for their far-reaching, progressive reforms. By using the WJCC as a lens through which to analyze womens political culture during the 1920s, the book also sheds new light on the initially successful ways women lobbied for social legislation, the inherent limitations of that process for pursuing classbased reforms, and the enormous difficulties faced by women trying to expand public responsibility for social welfare in the years following the Nineteenth Amendments passage._x000B_

Published by: University of Illinois Press

front cover

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Title page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-

List of Acronyms

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pp. viii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

During my process of researching and writing this book, I incurred many debts, only a handful of which I can mention here. My adviser, Kathryn Kish Sklar, oversaw this project from its inception, painstakingly read numerous...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

On November 22, 1920, representatives from ten national women’s organizations traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss the best methods through which women could exercise their newfound right of suffrage following their long and arduous battle for ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment...

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1. The Emergence of the WJCC

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pp. 9-26

On August 26, 1920, Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution, thus ending the seventy-two-year struggle for women’s suffrage formally launched in 1848 at Seneca Falls, New York. Most women who had been active in the suffrage campaign, however...

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2. The Lobby for the Sheppard-Towner Bill, 1921

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pp. 27-49

Writing of organized women’s efforts on behalf of the Sheppard- Towner Bill in 1921, Dorothy Kirchwey Brown of the League of Women Voters praised what she believed was the remarkable efficiency and selfless dedication of the campaign: “Here were...

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3. Opposition to the State Campaign for Sheppard-Towner, 1921-23

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pp. 50-65

Writing of organized women’s efforts on behalf of the Sheppard- Towner Bill in 1921, Dorothy Kirchwey Brown of the League of Women Voters praised what she believed was the remarkable efficiency and selfless dedication of the campaign: “Here were...

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4. The Crusade for the Child Labor Amendment, 1922-24

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pp. 66-92

By mid-decade, organized women had good reason to be confident of their influence on Capitol Hill. With support from grassroots communities and their congressional allies, WJCC organizations had helped to secure the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act and other key pieces of reform legislation...

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5. Allies and Opponents during the Battle for Ratification, 1924

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pp. 93-109

The WJCC’s influence with lawmakers and the American public, first demonstrated in the committee’s successful lobby for the Sheppard-Towner Act, reached a climax with the passage of the child labor amendment. Encouraged by...

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6. Defeat of the Child Labor Amendment, 1924-26

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pp. 110-132

By the end of the summer of 1924, WJCC-affiliated groups realized that their battle for ratification of the child labor amendment would not be as handily won as their campaign for the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act. Part of the problem, they realized, lay in the vulnerability of the amendment...

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7. The Struggle to Save the Sheppard-Towner Act, 1926-30

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pp. 133-147

In the midst of mounting attacks on their aims and methods, WJCC members initiated a campaign to extend the appropriations of the Sheppard- Towner Act. As originally passed by Congress in 1921, the act included a provision whereby the distribution of federal funds to the states for infancy and m...

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8. The Impact of Right-Wing Attacks on the WJCC and Its Social Reform Agenda, 1924-30

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pp. 148-170

In 1928, Elizabeth McCausland of the League of Women Voters coined the phrase “the blue menace” to describe the tremendous visibility of Boston-based patriotic organizations, whose self-appointed guardianship of national virtue and intolerance for views outside their own narrow definition of “true” Americanism...

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Conclusion

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pp. 171-174

On December 1, 1930, the Women’s Joint Congressional Committee celebrated the tenth anniversary of its founding at the Dodge Hotel in Washington, D.C. Opening the celebration was Carrie Chapman Catt, who regaled committee members with humorous anecdotes about her early contacts with...

Appendixes

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pp. 175-181

Notes

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pp. 183-221

Bibliography

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pp. 222-238

Index

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pp. 239-245

back cover

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p. 270-270


E-ISBN-13: 9780252092916
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252031670

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: Women in American History

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Subject Headings

  • Women's Joint Congressional Committee.
  • Women -- Political activity -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Women social reformers -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Women -- United States -- Societies and clubs -- History -- 20th century.
  • Pressure groups -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Social legislation -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Maternal and infant welfare -- Law and legislation -- United States -- History.
  • Child labor -- Law and legislation -- United States -- History.
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