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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Women's Activism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
 
  At the turn of the twentieth century, women activists fought patriarchal oppression in many ways. Some crusaded for women's suffrage, others chose to live with other women rather than marry, others demanded the right to control their own sexuality, while others pursued careers once forbidden to them. Some did all of the above.  
 
 
  Jane Addams Jane Addams (1860-1935) was an American reformer, social worker, peace activist, and Nobel Laureate who argued that male values dominant at the turn of the twentieth century helped create poverty, urban blight, and war.  
 
 
  Susan B. Anthony Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was a suffragist and activist committed to a broad range of feminist issues. A contemporary called her "one of the most loved and hated women in the country."  
 
 
  Katharine Lee Bates Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) was an American poet, literary scholar, and a mentor to Wellesley students from 1886 to 1920. Her best known work is the poem "America the Beautiful," which became the nation's unofficial hymn.  
 
 
  Boston Marriages Boston Marriages were long-term, committed, romantic unions between women that were usually monogamous but not necessarily sexual. They flourished late in the nineteenth century and provided some women with an alternative to conventional marriage.  
 
 
  Emma Goldman Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was an energetic political organizer, an anarchist, and a passionate free spirit who outspokenly defended the rights of homosexuals. Her radical ideas and broad influence led FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to call her "one of the most dangerous women in America."  
 
 
  Frances Alice Kellor Frances Alice Kellor (1873-1952) was a progressive activist and intellectual who is best known for having led the Americanization movement, but also contributed in a number of other areas.  
 
 
  Florence Nightingale Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the mother of modern nursing, was a tough reformer who fought for her right to a career and an individual identity in the stifling atmosphere of Victorian England.  
 
 
  Nursing, which has been both welcoming and hostile to gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered, is important to glbtq history. Several women who would now be called lesbian were also pivotal figures in the history of nursing.  
 
 
  Female Romantic Friendship Until the beginning of the twentieth century, intimate, exclusive, and often erotic Romantic Friendships between women were largely perceived as normal and socially acceptable.  
 
 
  Anna Rüling (1880-1953) was one of the first German women to publicly acknowledge her lesbianism. She became the first known lesbian activist in 1904.  
 
 
  The Settlement House Movement was composed of middle and upper class volunteers who moved into buildings in poor neighborhoods in order to advocate for improved social and work conditions, and to offer services not provided by the government. Many workers formed close, lasting relationships with one another while living and working together.  
 
 
  Dame Ethel Smyth Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) was the most important female composer in early twentieth-century English music and one of the few significant English composers of opera of either sex. She was also a key figure in the British women's suffrage movement.  
 
 
  By 1900, women accounted for two-thirds of all Teachers. As more and more women entered the teaching profession, the teaching profession became feminized. But during the early twentieth century, suspicions about single people's sexual behavior became prevalent. Older, single female teachers were sometimes suspected of being mannish women who corrupted children, and the celibacy of women who lived together in "Boston Marriages"--formerly regarded as innocent--came under question.  
 
 
  M. Carey Thomas M. Carey Thomas (1857-1935) was one of America's most prominent educators. She shared her home with another woman while serving as the second president of the women-only Bryn Mawr College.  
 
 
  Lillian Wald Lillian Wald (1867-1940), an American public health nurse and social reformer, is the model of a Victorian-era lesbian active in the settlement house movement.  
 
 
  Womens Suffrage Movement The Women's Suffrage Movement, which demanded the right for women to vote and hold public office, was led by women whom we would identify as lesbian today.  
 
 
 

 
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