The second half of the nineteenth century was a period when women became much more active in social and political life. The women's suffrage movement, under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, campaigned for votes for women throughout the period.
The Temperence Movement was another important reform movement that women were actively involved in. Before the Civil War, temperence movements had all been led by men, and the goal was usually to reform drunkards - moderation was tye byword, and some reformers simply asked members to drink nothing stronger than wine. But in the 1870s, opposition to liquor emerged as a woman's issue, and the goal became more stark - to shut down saloons and drive all forms of alcoholic beverage out of the country. In 1873, just before Christmas, about eighty married women marched up to the saloons in Hillsboro, Ohio, demanding that they close forever. the demonstrations went on for months, attractional national attention. Soon, women in small towns all over Ohio were kneeling in the snow before the town taverns, singing hymns and sometimes taking an axe to the bartender's wares. Seemingly spontaneous assaults on saloons - which were in fact frequently urged on by male temperence lecturers - occured in nearly 1,000 communities, involving tens of thousands of women over a period of about six months. It was the start of an antialcahol crusade by America's middle-class women that would continue until Prohibition became the law of the land in 1919.
it was a period when more jobs became available to women. Women had started taking over men's clerical jobs during the Civil War, and they continued to be employed in business after the war. A third of all government jobs were done by women by 1900. Women were empolyed as switchboard operators when the telephone industry discovered that men tended to talk back to the customers. The invention of the typewriter expaned opportunites for women in office work, by 1880, 40 percent of the stenographers and typists were women, and by 1900 it was three-quarters. the new department stores hired female salesclerks, 142,000 were hired before the end of the century.
Some women made a name for themselves in journalism, like Nellie Bly, a reporter for the New York World, who was on the front page regularly with what the papers then called "stunt" journalism, an infant version of investigative reporting. Bly got herself committed into an insane asylum, posed as a homeless woman, and insertred herself into the New York demimonde as a way of exposing conditions in the city's jails and hospitals. In 1888, she became the first person to actually go around the world in 80 days (Jules Verne, the futurist writer, had written a popular novel in which the male hero did just that). She arrived back at her starting point to in seventy-eight days to hysterical acclaim, which the World decreed was a tribute to her "combination of superb qualities which all sound-hearted men and women admire."
Women began to go to college in about 1870, and a decade later 40,000 were in college - nearly a third of all the students. The idea of higher education for women became so acceptable by 1890 that ladies Home Journal sponsored a contest in which the girl who sold the most subscriptions won a scholarship to Vassar.
Married women started women's clubs at which they could discuss current affairs, world history, or english literature. By the turn of the century, there were 5,000 local organisations in the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and that was only a tiny fgraction of the total number scattered around the United States. It was a sort of informal, do-it-yourself junior college system. the idea of doing something unrelated to their families was an enormous breakthrough for many members. Harriet Robinson, who joined the New England Women's Club in 1869, noted in her diary that the first meeting she attended was the first evening she had spent away from her husband in twenty years.
Answered By: Louise C - 4/6/2008