Recent feminist scholarship concerning the United States in the 1920s challenges earlier interpretations that assessed the 1920s in terms of the unkept “promises” of the women’s suffrage movement. This new scholarship disputes the long-held view that because a women’s voting bloc did not materialize after women gained the right to vote in 1920, suffrage failed to produce long-term political gains for women. These feminist scholars also challenge the old view that pronounced suffrage a failure for not delivering on the promise that the women’s vote would bring about moral, corruption-free governance. Asked whether women’s suffrage was a failure, these scholars cite the words of turn-of-the-century social reformer Jane Addams, “Why don’t you ask if suffrage in general is failing?”

In some ways, however, these scholars still present the 1920s as a period of decline. After suffrage, they argue, the feminist movement lost its cohesiveness, and gender consciousness waned. After the mid-1920s, few successes could be claimed by feminist reformers: little could be seen in the way of legislative victories.

During this decade, however, there was intense activism aimed at achieving increased autonomy for women, broadening the spheres within which they lived their daily lives. Women’s organizations worked to establish opportunities for women: they strove to secure for women the full entitlements of citizenship, including the right to hold office and the right to serve on juries.

The passage is primarily concerned with

providing evidence indicating that feminist reformers of the 1920s failed to reach some of their goals

presenting scholarship that contrasts suffragist “promises” with the historical realities of the 1920s

discussing recent scholarship concerning the achievements of women’s suffrage during the 1920s and presenting an alternative view of those achievements

outlining recent findings concerning events leading to suffrage for women in the 1920s and presenting a challenge to those findings

providing support for a traditional view of the success of feminist attempts to increase gender consciousness among women during the 1920s


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