The Political Activities of Detroit Clubwomen in the 1920s
A Challenge and a Promise
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Wayne State University Press
Series: Great Lakes Books Series
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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication
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In this research I am the grateful beneficiary of outstanding historians, archivists, family, and friends. I wish to thank the staff of the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library. David Poremba, Cheri Gay, John Gibson, Barbara Louie, Janet Nelson, Lillian Stefano, Winston Johnson, Romie Minor, Jackie Lawson...
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In 1919, the Detroit Times reported that some city councilmen showed their “temerity” by opposing the wishes of Detroit’s clubwomen. About forty of these clubwomen, recently enfranchised by a November state referendum, were demanding that a section of a public park be attached to a nearby girls’ home. Instead the City Council voted...
1. Early Twentieth-Century Detroit and the Beginning of Women’s Activism
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In the early twentieth century Detroit was a dynamic city undergoing rapid industrialization and an accompanying population boom, making the city more heterogeneous than it had been in the nineteenth century. There was increased demand for city services, as the city had greater municipal responsibility to provide police and fire protection...
2. The Club Work of Enfranchised Women
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By the early 1920s many Detroit clubwomen had established patterns for their enfranchised political activities, which would continue for the rest of the decade. They used their newly acquired voting rights in combination with other political tools they had developed pre-franchise. Throughout the 1920s organized clubwomen promoted a civic...
3. Policies That Affect Women and Children
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Once women gained the franchise, they began voting in large numbers, which caused politicians and policymakers to take notice—they began to reach out to women for their perspective on issues that concerned the home.1 Detroit clubwomen realized that they could be a powerful factor in the community in various ways. In light of all the...
4. Protecting the Home against Enemies
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In the 1920s the city of Detroit, with its burgeoning population and proximity to Canada, faced grave issues of crime and punishment. The city’s rapid industrialization and urbanization created new “temptations” and at the same time caused it to outgrow the communal and institutional restraints under which it had functioned. Detroit clubwomen wanted to protect...
5. Home as Part of the Urban Environment
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Detroit clubwomen understood that a large, urban, industrial city presented many health and safety hazards. They expressed concern about clean food and water, as well as proper sanitation. They campaigned against urban hazards like air pollution and excessive automobile traffic. Clubwomen believed these issues could not be separated from their traditional concerns...
6. The Limits of Enfranchised Citizens
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In the late 1920s Detroit clubwomen continued to pursue equal, enfranchised citizenship but increasingly realized the limitations of that citizenship. They were informed voters, but both political parties were hesitant about granting them leadership positions, much less running them as candidates. Clubwomen themselves were often not united...
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In 1930, Detroit was mired in a deep economic depression. The city was confronted with all its previous municipal responsibilities plus an enormous public relief burden. In July of that year, the mayor, Charles Bowles, was recalled. In the subsequent election, Frank Murphy was elected mayor. Clubwomen supported Murphy because his philosophy...
Appendix: Directory of the Detroit Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1926
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Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Great Lakes Books Series