The Woman Suffrage Movement in the United States presents important moments and participants in the history of the American suffrage movement, ranging from the mid-nineteenth century through the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

The book highlights the many participants in the suffrage movement, including well-known leaders, lesser-known activists, major national organizations, and local efforts across the country. An array of perspectives is examined: the garment factory worker working for protective labor laws, the wealthy wife hoping to control her inheritance, the Black activist seeking voting power for her community, and the temperance worker wanting to vote for prohibition laws. The volume examines the crucial activism of Black suffragists and other women of color, as well as the fraught nature of the cross-racial coalition and racismin the movement. The broad and accessible approach to this important period in history will enable students to consider questions such as: How could suffragists overcome their differences and build community? Were wealthy women who funded salaries, headquarters, and parades afforded more power? What tactics and strategies did suffragists utilize to lobby legislators and win over the public? How did suffragists and anti-suffragists wield racism as a political tactic both in support of and against the Nineteenth Amendment? How and when did women of color finally achieve the right to vote? Students will also be able to consider lessons from the suffrage movement for an inclusive feminist movement today.

Available from Routledge Press  or Amazon

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Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women Movemens, 1870-1967

Named #21 of the 100 Best Philanthropy Books of All Time by Book Authority

Joan Marie Johnson examines an understudied dimension women’s history in the United States: how a group of affluent white women from the late-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries advanced the status of all women through acts of philanthropy. This cadre of activists included Phoebe Hearst, the mother of William Randolph Hearst; Grace Dodge, granddaughter of Wall Street “Merchant Prince” William Earle Dodge; and Ava Belmont, who married into the Vanderbilt family fortune. Motivated by their own experiences with sexism, and focusing on women’s need for economic independence, these benefactors sought to expand women’s access to higher education, promote suffrage, and champion reproductive rights as well as to provide assistance to working-class women. In a time when women still wielded limited political power, philanthropy was perhaps the most potent tool they had. But even as these wealthy women exercised considerable influence, their activism had significant limits. As Johnson argues, restrictions tied to their giving engendered resentment and jeopardized efforts to establish coalitions across racial and class lines.
As the struggle for full economic and political power and self-determination for women continues today, this history reveals how generous women helped shape the movement. And Johnson shows us that tensions over wealth and power that persist in the modern movement have deep historical roots.

“A brilliantly conceived work that enriches our understanding and probes the complexities of feminism in the United States by demonstrating the ways that wealthy women both advanced feminist causes and–despite their commitment to a sisterhood of all women–sometimes exacerbated divisions among women based on class, race, and ethnicity.”
–Anya Jabour, University of Montana

“Joan Marie Johnson makes a significant contribution to U.S. women’s history. Scholars and contemporary feminist philanthropists alike will benefit from the perspective this book offers.” –Lynn Dumenil, author of The Second Line of Defense

Available from UNC Press  or Amazon

Listen to Joan discuss Funding Feminism on the New Books Network

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Southern Women at the Seven Sister Colleges
Feminist Values and Social Activism, 1875–1915

From the end of Reconstruction and into the New South era, more than one thousand white southern women attended one of the Seven Sister colleges: Vassar, Wellesley, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe, and Barnard. Joan Marie Johnson looks at how such educations—in the North, at some of the country’s best schools—influenced southern women to challenge their traditional gender roles and become active in woman suffrage and other social reforms of the Progressive Era South.
Attending one of the Seven Sister colleges, Johnson argues, could transform a southern woman indoctrinated in notions of domesticity and dependence into someone with newfound confidence and leadership skills. Many southern students at northern schools imported the values they imbibed at college, returning home to found schools of their own, women’s clubs, and woman suffrage associations. At the same time, during college and after graduation, southern women maintained a complicated relationship to home, nurturing their regional identity and remaining loyal to the ideals of the Confederacy.

Johnson explores why students sought a classical liberal arts education, how they prepared for entrance examinations, and how they felt as southerners on northern campuses. She draws on personal writings, information gleaned from college publications and records, and data on the women’s decisions about marriage, work, children, and other life-altering concerns.

In their time, the women studied in this book would eventually make up a disproportionately high percentage of the elite southern female leadership. This collective biography highlights the important part they played in forging new roles for women, especially in social reform, education, and suffrage.

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Southern Ladies, New Women: Race, Region, and Clubwomen in South Carolina, 1890-1930 

Joan Marie Johnson investigates how the desire to create a distinctive southern identity influenced black and white clubwomen at the turn of the 20th century and motivated their participation in efforts at social reform. Often doing similar work for different reasons, both groups emphasized history, memory, and education.

Focusing particularly on South Carolina clubs, Southern Ladies, New Women shows that white women promoted a culture of segregation in which southern equaled white and black equaled inferior. Like the United Daughters of the Confederacy, they celebrated the Lost Cause and its racial ideology. African-American clubwomen fought for the needs of their communities, struggled against Jim Crow, and demanded recognition of their citizenship. For both groups, control over historical memory thus became a powerful tool, one with the potential to oppress African-Americans as well as to help free them.

This ambitious book illuminates the essence of what South Carolina’s clubwomen of both races were thinking, feeling, and attempting to accomplish. It considers the entwined strands of race and gender that hampered their attempts to bridge their differences and that brought tension to their relations with northern clubwomen. It also addresses the seeming paradox of the white clubwomen who belonged simultaneously to tradition-minded organizations, such as the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Colonial Dames, and to a variety of forward-looking associations that engaged in impressive social reform.

Although Johnson looks most closely at the Progressive Era in South Carolina, her comparative study of race, gender, reform, and southern identity reveals that women’s clubs, both white and black, contributed to the creation of the new cultural climate and social order that emerged throughout the post-Civil-War South. This book will be important for all who are interested in a better understanding of race relations in contemporary America.

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South Carolina Women: Their Lives and Times

Three co-edited volumes of essays portraying South Carolina women in the rich context of the state’s long and fascinating history.