Women's Studies Professor Sheds Lighton Post-Suffrage Women's Movement

Friday, July 13, 2007

Jan Doolittle Wilson, assistant professor of history and women’s studies at The University of Tulsa, documents a powerful decade of feminist influence for social reform in her recently published book, "The Women’s Joint Congressional Committee and the Politics of Maternalism."

In her book, which is the first comprehensive history of the umbrella organization, Wilson explains how in the years following the 19th Amendment’s passing former suffrage leaders transformed the women’s movement into one of the most powerful lobbying forces in Congress, representing the legislative agendas of more than 12 million women.

In the 1920s, The Women’s Joint Congressional Committee (WJCC) aggressively sought political reforms to combat infant mortality rates, provide child and maternal healthcare, and create more oversight for child labor practices.

However, Wilson also addresses the darker side of the WJCC’s early achievements. Feminist-backed reforms were soon challenged by business interests, which ultimately limited the organization’s ambitions for far-reaching, progressive changes.

Using the WJCC as her point of reference, Wilson analyzes how women of the 1920s lobbied for social legislation and how they responded to obstacles in motivating the public to take responsibility for social welfare.