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Title: What eight million women want
Author: Dorr, Rheta Childe, 1866-1948
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Many of the chapters contained in this volume appeared as special
articles in _Hampton's Magazine_, to the editor of which the author's
thanks are due for permission to republish.



































For the audacity of the title of this book I offer no apology. I have
had it pointed out, not altogether facetiously, that it is impossible to
determine with accuracy what one woman, much less what any number of
women, wants. I sympathize with the first half of the tradition. The
desires, that is to say, the ideals, of an individual, man or woman, are
not always easy to determine. The individual is complex and exceedingly
prone to variation. The mass alone is consistent. The ideals of the mass
of women are wrapped in mystery simply because no one has cared enough
about them to inquire what they are.

Men, ardently, eternally, interested in Woman--one woman at a time--are
almost never even faintly interested in women. Strangely, deliberately
ignorant of women, they argue that their ignorance is justified by an
innate unknowableness of the sex.

I am persuaded that the time is at hand when this sentimental, half
contemptuous attitude of half the population towards the other half will
have to be abandoned. I believe that the time has arrived when
self-interest, if other motive be lacking, will compel society to
examine the ideals of women. In support of this opinion I ask you to
consider three facts, each one of which is so patent that it requires no

The Census of 1900 reported nearly six million women in the United
States engaged in wage earning outside their homes. Between 1890 and
1900 the number of women in industry increased faster than the number of
men in industry. _It increased faster than the birth rate._ The number
of women wage earners at the present date can only be estimated. Nine
million would be a conservative guess. Nine million women who have
forsaken the traditions of the hearth and are competing with men in the
world of paid labor, means that women are rapidly passing from the
domestic control of their fathers and their husbands. Surely this is
the most important economic fact in the world to-day.

Within the past twenty years no less than nine hundred and fifty-four
thousand divorces have been granted in the United States. Two thirds of
these divorces were granted to aggrieved wives. In spite of the
anathemas of the church, in the face of tradition and early precept, in
defiance of social ostracism, accepting, in the vast majority of cases,
the responsibility of self support, more than six hundred thousand
women, in the short space of twenty years, repudiated the burden of
uncongenial marriage. Without any doubt this is the most important
social fact we have had to face since the slavery question was settled.

Not only in the United States, but in every constitutional country in
the world the movement towards admitting women to full political
equality with men is gathering strength. In half a dozen countries women
are already completely enfranchised. In England the opposition is
seeking terms of surrender. In the United States the stoutest enemy of
the movement acknowledges that woman suffrage is ultimately inevitable.
The voting strength of the world is about to be doubled, and the new
element is absolutely an unknown quantity. Does any one question that
this is the most important political fact the modern world has ever

I have asked you to consider three facts, but in reality they are but
three manifestations of one fact, to my mind the most important human
fact society has yet encountered. Women have ceased to exist as a
subsidiary class in the community. They are no longer wholly dependent,
economically, intellectually, and spiritually, on a ruling class of men.
They look on life with the eyes of reasoning adults, where once they
regarded it as trusting children. Women now form a new social group,
separate, and to a degree homogeneous. Already they have evolved a group
opinion and a group ideal.

And this brings me to my reason for believing that society will soon be
compelled to make a serious survey of the opinions and ideals of women.
As far as these have found collective expressions, it is evident that
they differ very radically from accepted opinions and ideals of men. As
a matter of fact, it is inevitable that this should be so. Back of the
differences between the masculine and the feminine ideal lie centuries
of different habits, different duties, different ambitions, different
opportunities, different rewards.

I shall not here attempt to outline what the differences have been or
why they have existed. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in _Women and
Economics_, did this before me,--did it so well that it need never be
done again. I merely wish to point out that different habits of action
necessarily result, after long centuries, in different habits of
thought. Men, accustomed to habits of strife, pursuit of material
gains, immediate and tangible rewards, have come to believe that strife
is not only inevitable but desirable; that material gain and visible
reward are alone worth coveting. In this commercial age strife means
business competition, reward means money. Man, in the aggregate, thinks
in terms of money profit and money loss, and try as he will, he cannot
yet think in any other terms.

I have in mind a certain rich young man, who, when he is not
superintending the work of his cotton mills in Virginia, is giving his
time to settlement work in the city of Washington. The rich young man is
devoted to the settlement. One day he confided to a guest of the house,
a social worker of note, that he wished he might dedicate his entire
life to philanthropy.

"There is much about a commercial career that is depressing to a
sympathetic nature," he declared. "For example, it constantly depresses
me to observe the effect of the cotton mills on the girls in my employ.
They come in from the country, fresh, blooming, and eager to work.
Within a few months perhaps they are pale, anaemic, listless. Not
infrequently a young girl contracts tuberculosis and dies before one
realizes that she is ill. It wrings the heart to see it."

"I suspect," said the visitor, "that there is something wrong with your
mills. Are you sure that they are sufficiently well ventilated?"

"They are as well ventilated as we can have them," said the rich young
man. "Of course we cannot keep the windows open."

"Why not?" persisted the visitor.

"Because in our mills we spin both black and white yarn, and if the
windows were kept open the lint from the black yarn would blow on the
white yarn and ruin it."

A quick vision rose before the visitor's consciousness, of a mill room,
noisy with clacking machinery, reeking with the mingled odors of
perspiration and warm oil, obscure with flying cotton flakes which
covered the forms of the workers like snow and choked in their throats
like desert sand.

"But," she exclaimed, "you can have two rooms, one for the white yarn
and the other for the black."

The rich young man shook his head with the air of one who goes away
exceedingly sorrowful.

"No," he replied, "we can't. The business won't stand it."

This story presents in miniature the social attitude of the majority of
men. They cannot be held entirely responsible. Their minds automatically
function just that way. They have high and generous impulses, their
hearts are susceptible to tenderest pity, they often possess the vision
of brotherhood and human kinship, but habit, long habit, always
intervenes in time to save the business from loss of a few dollars

Three years ago Chicago was on the eve of one of its periodical "vice
crusades," of which more later. Sensational stories had been published
in several newspapers, to the effect that no fewer than five thousand
Jewish girls were leading lives of shame in the city, a statement which
was received with horror by the Jewish population of Chicago. A meeting
of wealthy and influential men and women was called in the law library
of a well known jurist and philanthropist. Representatives from various
social settlements in Jewish quarters of the town were invited, and it
was as a guest of one of these settlements that I was privileged to be

Eloquent addresses were made and an elaborate plan for investigation and
relief was outlined. Finally it came to a point where ways and means had
to be considered. The presiding officer put this phase of the matter to
the conference with smiling frankness. "You must realize, ladies and
gentlemen," he said, "that we have entered upon an extensive and, I am
afraid, a very expensive campaign."

At this a middle aged and notably dignified man arose and said with
emotion trembling in his voice: "Mr. Chairman, and ladies and gentlemen
of the conference, this surely is no time for us to think of economy of
expenditure. If the daughters of Israel are losing their ancient dower
of purity, the sons of Israel should be willing, nay, eager to ransom
them at any cost. Permit me, as a privileged honor which I value highly,
to offer, as a contribution towards the preliminary expenses of this
campaign, my check for ten thousand dollars."

He sat down to that polite little murmur of applause which goes round
the room, and I whispered to the head resident of the settlement of
which I was a guest, an inquiry as to the identity of the generous

"That gentleman," she whispered in reply, "is one of the owners of a
great mail order department store in Chicago." She sighed deeply, as
she added: "During the first week of the panic that store discharged,
without warning, five hundred girls."

These typical examples of the reasoning processes of men are offered
without the slightest rancor. They had to be given in order that the
woman's habit of thought might be explained with clearness.

Women, since society became an organized body, have been engaged in the
rearing, as well as the bearing of children. They have made the home,
they have cared for the sick, ministered to the aged, and given to the
poor. The universal destiny of the mass of women trained them to feed
and clothe, to invent, manufacture, build, repair, contrive, conserve,
economize. They lived lives of constant service, within the narrow
confines of a home. Their labor was given to those they loved, and the
reward they looked for was purely a spiritual reward.

A thousand generations of service, unpaid, loving, intimate, must have
left the strongest kind of a mental habit in its wake. Women, when they
emerged from the seclusion of their homes and began to mingle in the
world procession, when they were thrown on their own financial
responsibility, found themselves willy nilly in the ranks of the
producers, the wage earners; when the enlightenment of education was no
longer denied them, when their responsibilities ceased to be entirely
domestic and became somewhat social, when, in a word, women began to
_think_, they naturally thought in human terms. They couldn't have
thought otherwise if they had tried.

They might have learned, it is true. In certain circumstances women
might have been persuaded to adopt the commercial habit of thought. But
the circumstances were exactly propitious for the encouragement of the
old-time woman habit of service. The modern thinking, planning,
self-governing, educated woman came into a world which is losing faith
in the commercial ideal, and is endeavoring to substitute in its place a
social ideal. She came into a generation which is reaching passionate
hands towards democracy. She became one with a nation which is weary of
wars and hatreds, impatient with greed and privilege, sickened of
poverty, disease, and social injustice. The modern, free-functioning
woman accepted without the slightest difficulty these new ideals of
democracy and social service. Where men could do little more than
theorize in these matters, women were able easily and effectively to

I hope that I shall not be suspected of ascribing to women any ingrained
or fundamental moral superiority to men. Women are not better than men.
The mantle of moral superiority forced upon them as a substitute for
intellectual equality they accepted, because they could not help
themselves. They dropped it as soon as the substitute was no longer

That the mass of women are invariably found on the side of the new
ideals is no evidence of their moral superiority to men; it is merely
evidence of their intellectual youth.

Visitors from western cities and towns are often amazed, and vastly
amused, to find in New York and other eastern cities little narrow-gauge
street car lines, where gaunt horses haul the shabbiest of cars over the
oldest and roughest of road beds. The Westerner declares that nowhere in
the East does he find surface cars that equal in comfort and elegance
the cars recently installed in his Michigan or Nebraska or Washington
home town.

"Recently installed." There you have it.

The eastern city retains its horse cars and its out-of-date electric
rolling stock because it has them, and because there are all sorts of
difficulties in the way of replacing them. Old franchises have to expire
or otherwise be got rid of; corporations have to be coaxed or coerced;
greed and corruption often have to be overcome; huge sums of money have
to be appropriated; a whole machinery of municipal government has to be
set in motion before the old and established city can change its
traction system.

The new western town goes on foot until it attains to a certain size and
a sufficient prosperity. Then it installs electric railways, and of
course it purchases the newest and most modern of the available models.

New social ideals are difficult for men to acquire in a practical way
because their minds are filled with old traditions, inherited memories,
outworn theories of law, government, and social control. They cannot get
rid of these at once. They have used them so long, have found them so
convenient, so satisfactory, that even when you show them something
admittedly better; they are able only partially to comprehend and to

Women, on the other hand, have very few antiques to get rid of. Until
recently their minds, scantily furnished with a few personal preferences
and personal prejudices, were entirely bare of community ideals or any
social theory. When they found themselves in need of a social theory it
was only natural that they should choose the most modern, the most
progressive, the most idealistic. They made their choice unconsciously,
and they began the application of their new-found theory almost
automatically. The machinery they employed was the long derided,
misconceived, and unappreciated Women's Club.



Unless you have lived in a live town in the Middle West--say in
Michigan, or Indiana, or Nebraska--you cannot have a very adequate idea
of how ugly, and dirty, and neglected, and disreputable a town can be
when nobody loves it. The railway station is a long, low, rakish thing
of boards, painted a muddy maroon color. Around it is a stretch of bare
ground strewn with ashes. Beyond lies the main street, with some good
business blocks,--a First National Bank in imposing granite, and a
Masonic Temple in pressed brick. The high school occupies a treeless,
grassless, windswept block by itself.

In the center of the residential section of the town is a big,
unsightly, hummocky vacant place, vaguely known as the park--or the
place where they are going to have a park, when the city gets around to
it. At present it is a convenient spot wherein to dump tin cans, empty
bottles, broken crockery, old shoes, and other residue. When the wind
blows, in the spring and fall, a fine assortment of desiccated rubbish
is wafted up and down, and into the neighbors' dooryards.

Everybody is busy in these live towns. Everybody is prosperous, and
patriotic, and law-abiding, and respectable. The business of "getting
on" absorbs the entire time and attention of the men. They "get on" so
well, for the most part, that their wives have plenty of leisure on
their hands, and the latter occupy a portion of their leisure by
belonging to a club, organized for the study of the art of the
Renaissance, Chinese religions before Confucius, or the mystery of
Browning. The club meets every second Wednesday, and the members read
papers, after which there is tea and a social hour. The papers vary in
degree alone, as the writer happens to be a skimmer, a wader, or a
deep-sea diver in standard editions of the encyclopedias. The social
hour, however, occasionally develops in a direction quite away from the
realms of pure culture.

Such a town, with such a woman's club, was Lake City, Minnesota, a few
years ago. Lake City had a busy and a prosperous male population, a
woman's club bent on intellectual uplift, and a place where there was
going to be a park. One windy second Wednesday the club members arrived
with their eyes full of dust, soot on their white gloves, and
indignation in their hearts. When tea and the social hour came around
culture went by the board and the conversation turned to the perfectly
disgraceful way in which the town's street cleaning was conducted.

"The streets are bad enough," said one member, "but, after all, one
expects the streets to be dusty. What I object to is having a city
dump-heap at my front door. Have any of you crossed my corner of the
park since the snow melted?"

She drew a lively picture of a state of things gravely menacing to the
health of her neighborhood, and that of all the people whose homes faced
the neglected square.

"Why doesn't somebody complain to the authorities?" she concluded. "Why
don't we do something about it? The next time we meet we might at least
adopt resolutions, or, better still, have a committee appointed. What do
you think, Madam President?"

Madam President tapped her teaspoon on the edge of her empty cup. "I
think," she said, "that we will come to order and do it now. Will you
put what you have just suggested in the form of a motion?"

At the next meeting of the club the committee to investigate the park
made its report. The club members began a lively canvass among real
estate owners and business men, and before long an astonished city
council found itself on its feet, receiving a deputation from the
woman's club. The women came armed with a donation of fifteen hundred
dollars cash, and a polite, but firm, demand that the money be used to
clean up and plant the park.

The council replied that it had always intended to get around to that
park, and would have done it long ago but for the fact that there was no
park board in existence, and could not be one, because the Solons who
drew up the city charter had forgotten to put in a provision for such a

The club held more meetings, and appointed more committees. One of
these unearthed a State law which seemed to cover the case, and make a
park board possible without the direct assistance of a city charter. The
city attorney was visited, and somehow was coaxed, or argued, or bullied
into giving a favorable opinion, after which the election of a park
board followed as a matter of course. The town suddenly became
interested in the park. The club women's fifteen hundred dollars was
doubled by popular subscription, and the work of turning a town rubbish
heap into a cool and shady garden spot was brief but durable.

You wouldn't know the Lake City of those years if you saw it to-day.
They have an attractive railroad station, paved streets, cement
sidewalks, public playgrounds for children, a high school set in a
shaded square, and residence streets that look like parkways. And the
woman's club was the parent of them all.

There is a theory which expresses itself somewhat obviously in the
phrase: "Whatever all the women of the country want they will get." The
theory is a convenient one, because it may be used to defer action on
any suggested reform, and it is harmless because of the seeming
impossibility of ascertaining what all the women of the country really
want. The women of the United States and the women of all the world have
discovered a means through which they may express their collective
opinions and desires: organization, and more organization. Lake City is
but one instance in a thousand.

When American women began, a generation ago, to form themselves into
clubs, and later to join these clubs into state federations of clubs,
and finally the state federations into a national body, they did not
dream that they were going to express a collective opinion. Indeed, at
that time not very many had opinions worth expressing. The immediate
need of women's souls at the beginning of the club movement was for
education; the higher education they missed by not going to college, and
they formed their clubs with the sole object of self-culture.

The study period did not last very long. In fact it was doomed from the
beginning, for it is not in the nature of women, or at least it is not
in the habit of women, to do things for themselves alone. They have
_served_ for so many generations that they have learned to like serving
better than anything else in the world, and they add service to the
pursuit of culture, just as some of them add the important postscript to
the unimportant letter.

Thus Dallas, Texas, had a women's club of the culture caste. One spring
day, after the star member had read a paper on the "Lake Poets," and
another member had rendered a Chopin _étude_ on the piano, they began to
talk about the stegomyia mosquito, and what a pity it was that the
annual danger of contagion and death from the bite of that insect had to
be faced all over again. Pools of water all over town, simply swarming
with little wriggling things, soon to emerge as full-armed stegomyias,
merely because the city authorities hadn't the money, or said they
hadn't, to cover the pools with oil.

"Why, oil isn't very expensive," said one of the club women. "Let's buy
a whole lot of it and do the work ourselves."

So the work of saving hundreds of lives every year was added to the
study of "Lake Poets" and Chopin by the Women's Club of Dallas. The
members mapped the city, laid it out in districts, organized their
forces, bought oil and oil-cans and set forth. They visited the schools,
got teachers and pupils interested, and secured their co-operation. The
study of city sanitation was soon put into the school curriculum, and
oiling pools of standing water in every quarter of the town is now a
regular part of the school program in the upper grades. Every year the
club women renew the agitation, and every year the school children go
out with their teachers and cover the pools with oil.

That story could be paralleled in almost any city in the United States.
Clubs everywhere organized for the intellectual advancement of the
members, for the culture of music, art, and crafts, soon added to the
original object a department of philanthropy, a department of public
school decoration, a department of child labor, a department of civics.
The day a women's club adopts civics as a side line to literature, that
day it ceases to be a private association and becomes a public
institution--and the public sometimes finds this out before the club
suspects it.

An Eastern woman was visiting in San Francisco a short time before the
fire. In the complication of three streets with names almost identical,
she lost her way to the reception whither she was bound. The conductor
on the last car she tried before going home was deeply sympathetic.

"'Tis a shame, ma'am, them streets," he declared. "I've always said
there was no sense at all in havin' them named like that. A stranger is
bound to go wrong. I'll tell you what you do, ma'am: you go straight to
Mrs. Lovell White, she that bosses the women's clubs, you know, ma'am.
You tell her about them streets, and she'll have 'em changed."

The conductor's simple faith in the Women's Club of San Francisco did
not lack justification. In the intervals of studying Browning and
antique art, the club found time to discover to San Francisco all sorts
of things that the city wanted and needed without knowing that it did.

"We ought to have a flower market," pronounced the club.

"Nonsense," said the City Council. "Besides, where is the money to come

"We'll establish the flower market and show you," returned the club.

They did. They found a centrally located square, the place where people
would be likely to go for an early morning sale of potted plants and cut
flowers. Prices are moderate in outdoor markets, and nothing else so
stimulates in an entire community the gardening instinct, usually
confined to a few individuals. The city authorities discovered that the
flower market filled a long-felt want. So the city took the market over.

These activities were more or less local. Others, begun as local
affairs, ultimately became national in scope. The movement which has
resulted in a national program in favor of public playgrounds for
children began as a women's club movement. For a dozen years before the
Playgrounds Association of America came into existence, women's clubs
all over the country had been establishing playgrounds, supporting them
out of their club treasuries, and using every power of persuasion to
educate boards of education and city councils in their favor.

Pittsburg affords a typical instance. In 1896 there was a Civic Club of
Allegheny County, composed of women of the twin steel cities of
Pittsburg and Allegheny. At the head of its Education Department there
was a woman, Miss Beulah Kennard, who loved children; not beautifully
clean, well behaved, curled and polished children, but just children.
Children attracted Miss Kennard to such a degree that she couldn't bear
the sight of them wallowing in the grime and soot of Pittsburg streets
and alleys. Often she stopped in her walks to watch them, dodging wagons
and automobiles; throwing stones, tossing balls, fighting, and shooting
craps; stealing apples from push-carts, getting arrested and being
dragged through the farce of a trial at law for the crime of playing.

"Those children," Miss Kennard told her club, "have got to have a
decent place to play this summer." And the club agreed with her. The
treasury yielded for a beginning the modest sum of one hundred and
twenty-five dollars, and with this money the women fitted out one
schoolyard, large enough for sixty children to play in. There was no
trouble about getting the sixty together. They came, a noisy, joyous,
turbulent, vacation set of children, and the anxious committee from the
club looked at them in great trepidation of spirit and said to one
another: "What on earth are we going to do with them, now that we've got
them here?"

With hardly a ghost of precedent to guide them, the club undertook the
work, and as women have had considerable experience in taking care of
children at home, they soon discovered ways of taking care of them
successfully in the playground.

The next summer the Civic Club invested six hundred dollars in
playgrounds. Two schoolyards were fitted up in Pittsburg and two in
Allegheny. After that, every summer, the work was extended. More money
each year was voted, and additional playgrounds were established. In the
summer of 1899, three years after the first experiment, Pittsburg
children had nine playgrounds and Allegheny children had three, all
gifts of the women. By another year the committee was handling thousands
of dollars and managing an enterprise of considerable magnitude. Also
their work was attracting the admiration of other club women, who asked
for an opportunity to co-operate. In 1900 practically all the clubs of
the two cities united, and formed a joint committee of the Women's Clubs
of Pittsburg and vicinity to take charge of playgrounds.

by club women and for years supported by them.]

All this time the work was entirely in the hands of the club women, who
bought the apparatus, organized the games, employed the trained
supervisors, and supplied from their own membership the volunteer
workers, without whom the enterprise would have been a failure from the
start. The Board of Education co-operated to the extent of lending
schoolyards. Finally the Board of Education decided to vote an annual
contribution of money.

In 1902 the city of Pittsburg woke up and gave the women fifteen
hundred dollars, with which they established one more playground and a
recreation park. The original one hundred and twenty-five dollars had
now expanded to nearly eight thousand dollars, and Pittsburg and
Allegheny children were not only playing in a dozen schoolyards, but
they were attending vacation schools, under expert instructors in manual
training, cooking, sewing, art-crafts. Several recreation centers,
all-the-year-round playgrounds, have been added since then. For
Pittsburg has adopted the women's point of view in the matter of
playgrounds. This year the city voted fifty thousand, three hundred and
fifty dollars, and the Board of Education appropriated ten thousand
dollars for the vacation schools.

In Detroit it was the Twentieth Century Club that began the playground
agitation. Mrs. Clara B. Arthur, some ten years ago, read a paper
before the Department of Philanthropy and Reform, and following it the
chairman of the meeting appointed a committee to consider the
possibility of playgrounds for Detroit children. The committee visited
the Board of Education, explained the need of playgrounds, and asked
that the Board conduct one trial playground in a schoolyard, during the
approaching vacation. The Board declined. The boards of education in
most cities declined at first.

The club did not give up. It talked playgrounds to the other clubs,
until all the organizations of women were interested. Within a year or
two Detroit had a Council of Women, with a committee on playgrounds. The
committee went to the Common Council this time and asked permission to
erect a pavilion and establish a playground on a piece of city land.
This was a great, bare, neglected spot, the site of an abandoned
reservoir which had been of no use to anybody for twenty years. The
place had the advantage of being in a very forlorn neighborhood where
many children swarmed.

The Common Council was mildly amused at the idea of putting public
property to such an absurd, such an unheard-of use. A few of the men
were indignant. One Germanic alderman exploded wrathfully: "Vot does
vimmens know about poys' play?--No!" And that settled it.

The committee went to the Board of Education once more, this time with
better success. They received permission to open and conduct, during the
long vacation, one playground in a large schoolyard. For two summers the
women maintained that playground, holding their faith against the
opposition of the janitors, the jeers of the newspapers, and the
constant hostility of tax-payers, who protested against the "ruin of
school property." After two years the Board of Education took over the
work. The mayor became personally interested, and the Common Council
gracefully surrendered. They have plenty of playgrounds in Detroit now,
the latest development being winter sports.

If the Germanic alderman who protested that "vimmins" did not know
anything about boys' play was in office at the time, one wonders what
his emotions were when the playgrounds committee first appeared before
the Council and asked to have vacant lots flooded to give children
skating ponds in winter. Of course the Council refused. Fire plugs were
for water in case of fire, not for children's enjoyment. In fact there
was a city ordinance forbidding the opening of a fire plug in winter,
except to extinguish fire. It took two years of constant work on the
part of the club women to remove that ordinance, but they did it, and
the children of Detroit have their winter as well as their summer

PITTSBURGH. Out of the persistent work of club women more than three
hundred playgrounds for children have been established.]

In Philadelphia are fourteen splendid playgrounds and vacation schools,
established in the beginning and maintained for many years by a civic
club of women, the largest women's civic club in the country. The
process of educating public opinion in their favor was slow, for it is
difficult to make men see that the children of a modern city have
different needs from the country or village children of a generation
ago. Men remember their own boyhood, and scoff at the idea of organized
and supervised play in a made playground. Women have no memories of the
old swimming-hole. They simply see the conditions before them, and they
instinctively know what must be done to meet them. The process of
educating the others is slow, but this year in Philadelphia sixty public
schoolyards were opened for public playgrounds, and the city
appropriated five thousand dollars towards their maintenance. In a
hundred cities East and West the women's clubs have been the original
movers or have co-operated in the playground movement.

Out of this persistent work was born the Playground Association of
America, an organization of men and women, which in the three years of
its existence has established more than three hundred playgrounds for
children. In Massachusetts they have secured a referendum providing that
all cities of over ten thousand inhabitants shall vote upon the question
of providing adequate playgrounds. The act provides that every city and
town in the Commonwealth which accepts the act shall after July 1, 1910,
provide and maintain at least one public playground, and at least one
other playground for every additional twenty thousand inhabitants.
Something like twenty-five cities in the State have accepted the
playgrounds act. It is a good beginning. The slogan of the movement,
"The boy without a playground is the father of the man without a job,"
has swept over the continent.


This surely is a not inconsiderable achievement for so humble an
instrument as women's clubs. It is true that in most communities they
have forgotten that the women's clubs ever had anything to do with the
movement. The Playgrounds Association has not forgotten, however. Its
president, Luther Halsey Gulick, of New York, declares that even now the
work would languish if it lost the co-operation of the women's clubs.

The scope of woman's work for civic betterment is wider than the
interests that directly affect children. How much the women attempt, how
difficult they find their task, how much opposition they encounter, and
how certain their success in the end, is indicated in a modest report of
the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Women's Civic Club. That report says in

"It is no longer necessary for us to continue, at our own cost, the
practical experiment we began in street-cleaning, or to advocate the
paving of a single principal street, as a test of the value of improved
highways; nor is it necessary longer to strive for a pure water supply,
a healthier sewerage system, or the construction of playgrounds. _This
work is now being done by the City Council, by the Board of Public
Works, and by the Park Commission._"

Not that the Harrisburg Women's Civic Club has gone out of business. It
still keeps fairly busy with schoolhouse decoration, traveling libraries
for factory employees, and inspecting the city dump.

In Birmingham, Alabama, the women's work has been recognized officially.
The club Women have formed "block" clubs, composed of the women living
in each block, and the mayor has invested them with powers of
supervision, control of street cleaning, and disposal of waste and
garbage. They really act as overseers, and can remove lazy and
incompetent employees.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, has a ten-year-old Civic Club. The women have
succeeded in getting objectionable billboards removed, public dumps
removed from the town, in having all outside market stalls covered, and
have secured ordinances forbidding spitting in public places, and
against throwing litter into the streets.

Cranford, New Jersey, is one of a dozen small cities where the women's
clubs hold regular town house-cleanings. One large town in the Middle
West adopted a vigorous method of educating public opinion in favor of
spring and fall municipal house-cleaning. The club women got a
photographer and went the rounds of streets and alleys and private
backyards. Wherever bad or neglected conditions were found the club sent
a note to the owner of the property asking him to co-operate with its
members in cleaning up and beautifying the town. Where no attention was
paid to the notes, the photographs were posted conspicuously in the
club's public exhibit.

If the California women saved the big tree grove, the New Jersey women,
by years of persistent work, saved the Palisades of the Hudson from
destruction and inaugurated the movement to turn them into a public
park. As for the Colorado club women, they saved the Cliff Dwellers'
remains. You can no longer buy the pottery and other priceless relics of
those prehistoric people in the curio-shops of Denver.

I am not attempting a catalogue; I am only giving a few crucial
instances. The activities of women if they appeared only sporadically in
Lake City, Dallas, San Francisco, and a dozen other cities, would not
necessarily carry much weight. They would possess an interest purely
local. But the club women of Lake City, Dallas, San Francisco, do not
keep their interests local. Once a year they travel, hundreds of them,
to a chosen city in the State, and there they hold a convention which
lasts a week. And every second year the club women of Minnesota and
Texas and California, and every other State in the Union, to say
nothing of Alaska, Porto Rico, and the Canal Zone, thousands of them,
journey to a chosen center, and there they hold a convention which lasts
a week. And at these state and national conventions the club women
compare their work and criticise it, and confer on public questions, and
decide which movements they shall promote. They summon experts in all
lines of work to lecture and advise. Increasingly their work is national
in its scope.

In round numbers, eight hundred thousand women are now enrolled in the
clubs belonging to the General Federation of Women's Clubs, holding in
common certain definite opinions, and working harmoniously towards
certain definite social ends. Remember that these eight hundred
thousand women are the educated, intelligent, socially powerful.

Long ago these eight hundred thousand women ceased to confine their
studies to printed pages. They began to study life. Leaders developed,
women of intellect and experience, who could foresee the immense power
an organized womanhood might some time wield, and who had courage to
direct the forces under them towards vital objects.

When, in 1904, Mrs. Sarah Platt Decker, of Denver, was elected President
of the General Federation, she found a number of old-fashioned clubs
still devoting themselves to Shakespeare and the classic writers. Mrs.
Decker, a voter, a full citizen, and a public worker of prominence in
her State, simply laughed the musty study clubs out of existence.

"Ladies," she said to the delegates at the biennial meeting of 1904,
"Dante is dead. He died several centuries ago, and a great many things
have happened since his time. Let us drop the study of his 'Inferno' and
proceed in earnest to contemplate our own social order."


Mostly they took her advice. A few clubs still devote themselves to the
pursuit of pure culture, a few others exist with little motive beyond
congenial association. The great majority of women's clubs are organized
for social service. A glance at their national program shows the
modernity, the liberal character of organized women's ideals. The
General Federation has twelve committees, among them being those on
Industrial Conditions of Women and Children, Civil Service Reform,
Forestry, Pure Food and Public Health, Education, Civics, Legislation,
Arts and Crafts, and Household Economics. Every state federation has
adopted, in the main, the same departments; and the individual clubs
follow as many lines of the work as their strength warrants.

The contribution of the women's clubs to education has been enormous.
There is hardly a State in the Union the public schools of which have
not been beautified, inside and outside; hardly a State where
kindergartens and manual training, domestic science, medical inspection,
stamp savings banks, or other improvements have not been introduced by
the clubs. In almost every case the clubs have purchased the equipment
and paid the salaries until the boards of education and the school
superintendents have been convinced of the value of the innovations. In
the South, where opportunities for the higher education of women are
restricted, the clubs support dozens of scholarships in colleges and
institutes. Many western State federations, notable among which is that
of Colorado, have strong committees on education which are active in the
entire school system.

Thomas M. Balliett, Dean of Pedagogy in the New York University, paid a
deserved tribute to the Massachusetts club women when he said:

     In Massachusetts the various women's organizations have, within the
     past few years, made a study of schools and school conditions
     throughout the State with a thoroughness that has never been
     attempted before.

Dean Balliett says of women's clubs in general that the most
important reform movements in elementary education within the past
twenty years have been due, in large measure, to the efforts of
organized women. And he is right.

The women's clubs have founded more libraries than Mr. Carnegie. Early
in the movement the women began the circulation among the clubs of
traveling reference libraries. Soon this work was extended, but the
object of the libraries was diverted. Instead of collections of books on
special subjects to assist the club women in their studies, the
traveling cases were arranged in miscellaneous groups, and were sent to
schools, to factories, to lonely farms, mining camps, lumber camps, and
to isolated towns and villages.

Iowa now has more than twelve thousand volumes, half of them reference
books, in circulation. Eighty-one permanent libraries have grown out of
the traveling libraries in Iowa alone. After the traveling cases have
been coming to a town for a year or two, people wake up and agree that
they want a permanent place in which to read and study. Ohio has over a
thousand libraries in circulation, having succeeded, a few years ago, in
getting a substantial appropriation from the legislature to supplement
their work. Western States--Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho--have supplied
reading matter to ranches and mining camps for many years.

One interesting special library is circulated in Massachusetts and Rhode
Island in behalf of the anti-tuberculosis movement. Something like forty
of the best books on health, and on the prevention and cure of
tuberculosis, are included. This library, with a pretty complete
tuberculosis exhibit, is sent around, and is shown by the local clubs
of each town. Usually the women try to have a mass-meeting, at which
local health problems are discussed. The Health Department of the
General Federation is working to establish these health libraries and
exhibits in every State.

Not only in the United States, but in every civilized country, have
women associated themselves together with the object of reforming what
seems to them social chaos. In practically every civilized country in
the world to-day there exists a Council of Women, a central organization
to which clubs and societies of women with all sorts of opinions and
objects send delegates. In the United States the council is made up of
the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the Woman's Christian
Temperance Union, and innumerable smaller organizations, like the
National Congress of Mothers, and the Daughters of the American
Revolution. More than a million and a half American women are

Four hundred and twenty-six women's organizations belong to the council
in Great Britain. In Switzerland the council has sixty-four allied
societies; in Austria it has fifty; in the Netherlands it has
thirty-five. Seventy-five thousand women belong to the French council.
In all, the International Council of Women, to which all the councils
send delegates, represents more than eight million women, in countries
as far apart as Australia, Argentine, Iceland, Persia, South Africa, and
every country in Europe. The council, indeed, has no formal organization
in Russia, because organizations of every kind are illegal in Russia.
But Russian women attend every meeting of the International Council.
Turkish women sent word to the last meeting that they hoped soon to ask
for admission. The President of the International Council of Women is
the Countess of Aberdeen. Titled women in every European country belong
to their councils. The Queen of Greece is president of the Greek

The object of this great world organization of women is to provide a
common center for women of every country, race, creed, or party who are
associating themselves together in altruistic work. Once every five
years the International Council holds a great world congress of women.

What eight million of the most intelligent, the most thoughtful, the
most altruistic women in the world believe, what they think the world
needs, what they wish and desire for the good of humanity, must be of
interest. It must count.

[Illustration: LADY ABERDEEN President of the International Council of

The International Council of Women discusses every important question
presented, but makes no decision until the opinion of the delegates is
practically unanimous. It commits itself to no opinion, lends itself to
no movement, until the movement has passed the controversial stage.

Those who cling to the old notion that women are perpetually at war with
one another will learn with astonishment that eight million women of all
nationalities, religions, and temperaments are agreed on at least four
questions. In the course of its twenty years of existence the
International Council has agreed to support four movements: Peace and
arbitration, social purity, removing legal disabilities of women, woman

The American reader will be inclined to cavil at the last-mentioned
object. Woman suffrage, it will be claimed, has not passed the
controversial stage, even with women themselves. That is true in the
United States and in England. It is true, in a sense, in most countries
of the world. But in European countries not _woman_ suffrage, but
_universal_ suffrage is being struggled for.

I had this explained to me in Russia, in the course of a conversation
with Alexis Aladyn, the brilliant leader of the Social Democratic party.
I said to him that I had been informed that the conservative reformers,
as well as the radicals, included woman suffrage in their programs.
Aladyn looked puzzled for a moment, and then he replied: "All parties
desire universal suffrage. Naturally that includes women."

Finland at that time, 1906, had recently won its independence from the
autocracy and was preparing for its first general election. Talking with
one of the nineteen women returned to Parliament a few months later, I
asked: "How did you Finnish women persuade the makers of the new
constitution to give you the franchise?"

"Persuade?" she repeated; "we did not have to persuade them. There was
simply no opposition. One of the demands made on the Russian Government
was for universal suffrage."

The movement for universal suffrage, that is the movement for free
government, with the consent of the governed, is considered by the
International Council of Women to have passed the controversial stage.

The whole club movement, as a matter of fact, is a part of the great
democratic movement which is sweeping over the whole world. Individual
clubs may be exclusive, even aristocratic in their tendencies, but the
large organization is absolutely democratic. If the President of the
International Council is an English peeress, one of the vice-presidents
is the wife of a German music teacher, and one of the secretaries is a
self-supporting woman. The General Federation in the United States is
made up of women of various stations in life, from millionaires' wives
to factory girls.

The democracy of women's organizations was shown at the meeting in
London a year ago of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, where
delegates from twenty-one countries assembled. One of the great features
of the meeting was a wonderful pageant of women's trades and
professions. An immense procession of women, bearing banners and emblems
of their work, marched through streets lined with spectators to Albert
Hall, where the entire orchestra of this largest auditorium in the world
was reserved for them. A published account of the pageant, after
describing the delegations of teachers, nurses, doctors, journalists,
artists, authors, house workers, factory women, stenographers, and
others well known here, says:

     Then the ranks opened, and down the long aisle came the chain
     makers who work at the forge, and the pit-brow women from the
     mines,--women whose faces have been blackened by smoke and coal
     dust until they can never be washed white.... To these women, the
     hardest workers in the land, were given the seats of honor, while
     behind them, gladly taking a subordinate place, were many women
     wearing gowns with scarlet and purple hoods, indicating their
     university degrees.

Every public movement--reform, philanthropic, sanitary, educational--now
asks the co-operation of women's organizations. The United States
Government asked the co-operation of the women's clubs to save the
precarious Panama situation. At a moment when social discontent
threatened literally to stop the building of the canal, the Department
of Commerce and Labor employed Miss Helen Varick Boswell, of New York,
to go to the Isthmus and organize the wives and daughters of Government
employees into clubs. The Department knew that the clubs, once
organized, would do the rest. Nor was it disappointed.

The Government asks the co-operation of women in its latest work of
conserving natural resources. At the biennial of the Federation of
Women's Clubs in 1906 Mr. Enos Mills delivered an address on forestry, a
movement which was beginning to engage the attention of the clubs.
Within an hour after he left the platform Mr. Mills had been engaged by
a dozen state presidents to lecture to clubs and federations. As soon
as it reached the Government that the women's clubs were paying fifty
dollars a lecture to learn about forestry work, the Government arranged
that the clubs should have the best authorities in the nation to lecture
on forestry free of all expense.

But the Government is not alone in recognizing the power of women's
organizations. If the Government approves their interest in public
questions, vested interests are beginning to fear it. The president of
the Manufacturers' Association, in his inaugural address, told his
colleagues that their wives and daughters invited some very dangerous
and revolutionary speakers to address their clubs. He warned them that
the women were becoming too friendly toward reforms that the association
frowned upon.

This is indeed true, and women display, in their new-found enthusiasm,
a singularly obstinate spirit. All the legislatures south of the Mason
and Dixon Line cannot make the Southern women believe that Southern
prosperity is dependent upon young children laboring in mills. The women
go on working for child labor and compulsory education laws, unconvinced
by the arguments of the mill owners and the votes of the legislators.
The highest court in the State of New York was powerless to persuade New
York club women that the United States Constitution stands in the way of
a law prohibiting the night work of women. The Court of Appeals declared
the law unconstitutional, and many women at present are toiling at
night. But the club women immediately began fighting for a new law.

The women of every State in the Union are able to work harmoniously
together because they are unhampered with traditions of what the
founders of the Republic intended,--the sacredness of state rights, or
the protective paternalism of Wall Street. The gloriously illogical
sincerity of women is concerned only about the thing itself.

I have left for future consideration women who having definite social
theories have organized themselves for definite objects. This chapter
has purposely been confined to the activities of average women--good
wives and mothers, the eight hundred thousand American women whose
collective opinion is expressed through the General Federation of
Women's Clubs. For the most part they are mature in years, these club
women. Their children are grown. Some are in college and some are
married. I have heard more than one presiding officer at a State
Federation meeting proudly announce from the platform that she had
become a grandmother since the last convention.

The present president of the General Federation, Mrs. Philip N. Moore
of St. Louis, Missouri, is a graduate of Vassar College, and served for
a time as president of the National Society of Collegiate Alumnae. There
are not wanting in the club movement many women who have taken college
and university honors. Club women taken the country over, however, are
not college products. If they had been, the club movement might have
taken on a more cultural and a less practical form. As it was, the women
formed their groups with the direct object of educating themselves and,
being practical women used to work, they readily turned their new
knowledge to practical ends. As quickly as they found out, through
education, what their local communities needed they were filled with a
generous desire to supply those needs. In reality they simply learned
from books and study how to apply their housekeeping lore to municipal
government and the public school system. Nine-tenths of the work they
have undertaken relates to children, the school, and the home. Some of
it seemed radical in the beginning, but none of it has failed, in the
long run, to win the warmest approval of the people.

The eight million women who form the International Council of Women, and
express the collective opinion of women the world over, are not
exceptional types, although they may possess exceptional intelligence.
They are merely good citizens, wives, and mothers. Their program
contains nothing especially radical. And yet, what a revolution would
the world witness were that program carried out? Peace and arbitration;
social purity; public health; woman suffrage; removal of all legal
disabilities of women. This last-named object is perhaps more
revolutionary in its character than the others, because its fulfillment
will disturb the basic theories on which the nations have established
their different forms of government.



Several years ago a woman of wealth and social prominence in Kentucky,
after pondering some time on the inferior position of women in the
United States, wrote a book. In this volume the United States was
compared most unfavorably with the countries of Europe, where the
dignity and importance of women received some measure of recognition.
Women, this author protested, enjoy a larger measure of political power
in England than in America. In England and throughout Europe their
social power is greater. If a man becomes lord mayor of an English city
his wife becomes lady mayoress, and she shares all her husband's
official honors. On the Continent women are often made honorary colonels
of regiments, and take part with the men in military reviews. Women
frequently hold high offices at court, acting as chamberlains,
constables, and the like. The writer closed her last chapter with the
announcement that she meant henceforth to make her home in England,
where women had more than once occupied the throne as absolute monarch
and constitutional ruler.

It is true that in some particulars American women do seem to be at a
disadvantage with European women. With what looks like a higher regard
for women's intelligence, England has bestowed upon them every measure
of suffrage except the Parliamentary franchise. In England, throughout
the Middle Ages, and even down to the present century, women held the
office of sheriff of the county, clerk of the crown, high constable,
chamberlain, and even champion at a coronation,--the champion being a
picturesque figure who rides into the hall and flings his glove to the
nobles, in defense of the king's crown.

In the royal pageants of European history behold the powerful figures of
Maria Theresa, Catherine the Great, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth, Mary of
Scotland, Christina of Sweden, rulers in fact as well as in name; to say
nothing of the long line of women regents in whose hands the state
intrusted its affairs, during the minority of its kings. In the United
States a woman candidate for mayor of a small town would be considered
a joke.

These and other inconsistencies have puzzled many ardent upholders of
American chivalry. In order to understand the position of women in the
United States it is necessary to make a brief survey of the laws under
which European women are governed, and the social theory on which their
apparent advantages are based.

In the first place, the statement that in European countries a woman may
succeed to the throne must be qualified. In three countries only,
England, Spain, and Portugal, are women counted in the line of
succession on terms approaching equality with men. In these three
countries when a monarch dies leaving no sons his eldest daughter
becomes the sovereign. If the ruling monarch die, leaving no children at
all, the oldest daughter--failing sons--of the man who was in his
lifetime in direct line of succession is given preference to male heirs
more remote. Thus Queen Victoria succeeded William IV, she being the
only child of the late king's deceased brother and heir, the Duke of

Similar laws govern the succession in Portugal and Spain, although
dispute on this point has more than once caused civil war in Spain.

In Holland, Greece, Russia, Austria, and a few German states a woman may
succeed to the throne, provided every single male heir to the crown is
dead. Queen Wilhelmina became sovereign in Holland only because the
House of Orange was extinct in the male line, and Holland lost, on
account of the accession of Wilhelmina, the rich and important Duchy of

Luxemburg, in common with the rest of Europe, except the countries
described, lives under what is known as the Salic Law, according to
which a woman may not, in any circumstances, become sovereign.

A word about this Salic Law is necessary, because the tradition of it
permeates the whole atmosphere in which the women of Europe live, move,
and have their legal and social being.

The Salic Law was the code of a barbarous people, so far extinct and
forgotten that it is uncertain just what territory in ancient Gaul they
occupied at the time the code was formulated. Later the Salian Franks,
as the tribe was designated, built on the left bank of the Seine rude
fortresses and a collection of wattled huts which became the ancestor of
the present-day city of Paris.

The Salic Law was a complete code. It governed all matters, civil and
military. It prescribed rules of war; it fixed the salaries of
officials; it designated the exact amount of blood money the family of a
slain man might collect from the family of the slayer; it regu lated
conditions under which individuals might travel from one village to
another; it governed matters of property transfer and inheritance.

The Salian Franks are dust; their might has perished, their annals are
forgotten, their cities are leveled, their mightiest kings sleep in
unmarked graves, their code has passed out of existence, almost indeed
out of the memory of man,--all except one paragraph of one division of
one law. The law related to inheritance of property; the special
division distinguished between real and personal property, and the
paragraph ruled that a woman might inherit movable property, but that
she might not inherit land.

There was not a syllable in the law relating to the inheritance of a
throne. Nevertheless, centuries after the last Salian king was laid in
his barbarous grave a French prince successfully contested with an
English prince the crown of France, his claim resting on that obscure
paragraph in the Salic code. The Hundred Years' War was fought on this
issue, and the final outcome of the war established the Salic Law
permanently in France, and with more or less rigor in most of the
European states.

At the time of the French Revolution, when the "Rights of Man" were
being declared with so much fervor and enthusiasm, when the old laws
were being revised in favor of greater freedom of the individual, the
"Rights of Woman" were actually revised downward. Up to this time the
application of the Salic Law was based on tradition and precedent. Now a
special statute was enacted forever barring women from the sovereignty
of France. "Founded on the pride of the French, who could not bear to be
ruled by their own women folk," as the records are careful to state.

The interpretation of the Salic Law did more, a great deal more, than
exclude women from the throne. It established the principle of the
inherent inferiority of women. The system of laws erected on that
principle were necessarily deeply tinged with contempt for women, and
with fear lest their influence in any way might affect the conduct of
state affairs. That explains why, at the present time, although in most
European countries women are allowed to practice medicine, they are not
allowed to practice law. Medicine may be as learned a profession, but it
affects only human beings. The law, on the other hand, affects the
state. A woman advocate, you can readily imagine, might so influence a
court of justice that the laws of the land might suffer feminization.
From the European point of view this would be most undesirable.

The apparently superior rights possessed by English women were also
bestowed upon them by a vanished system of laws. They have descended
from Feudalism, in which social order the _person_ did not exist. The
social order consisted of _property_ alone, and the claims of property,
that is to say, land, were paramount over the claims of the individual.
Those historic women sheriffs of counties, clerks of crown,
chamberlains, and high constables held their high offices because the
offices were hereditary property in certain titled families, and they
had to belong to the entail, even when a woman was in possession. The
offices were purely titular. No English woman ever acted as high
constable. No English woman ever attended a coronation as king's
champion. The rights and duties of these offices were delegated to a
male relative. Every once in a while, during the Middle Ages, some
strong-minded lady of title demanded the right to administer her office
in person, but she was always sternly put down by a rebuking House of
Lords, sometimes even by the king's majesty himself.

In the same way the voting powers of the women of England are a result
of hereditary privilege. Local affairs in England, until a very recent
period, were administered through the parish, and the only persons
qualified to vote were the property owners of the parish. It was really
property interests and not people who voted. Those women who owned
property, or who were administering property for their minor children,
were entitled to vote, to serve on boards of guardians, and to dispense
the Poor Laws. Out of their right of parish vote has grown their right
of municipal franchise. It carries with it a property qualification, and
the proposed Parliamentary franchise, for which the women of England are
making such a magnificent fight, will also have a property

The real position, legal and social, which women in England and
continental Europe have for centuries occupied, may be gauged from an
examination of the feminist movement in a very enlightened country, say
Germany. The laws of Germany were founded on the Corpus Juris of the
Romans, a stern code which relegates women to the position of chattels.
And chattels they have been in Germany, until very recent years, when
through the intelligent persistence of strong women the chains have
somewhat been loosened.

A generation ago, in 1865, to be exact, a group of women in Leipzig
formed an association which they called the Allgemeinen Deutschen
Frauenbund, which may be Anglicized into General Association of German
Women. The stated objects of the association give a pretty clear idea of
the position of women at that time. The women demanded as their rights,
Education, the Right to Work, Free Choice of Profession. Nothing more,
but these three demands were so revolutionary that all masculine
Germany, and most of feminine Germany, uttered horrified protests.
Needless to say nothing came of the women's demand.

After the Franco-Prussian War the center of the women's revolt naturally
moved to the capital of the new empire, Berlin. From that city, during
the years that followed, so much feminine unrest was radiated that in
1887 the German Woman Suffrage Association was formed, with the demand
for absolute equality with men. Two remarkable women, Minna Cauer and
Anita Augsberg, the latter unmarried and a doctor of laws, were the
moving spirits in the first woman suffrage agitation, which has since
extended throughout the empire until there is hardly a small town
without its suffrage club.

Now the woman suffragist in Germany differs from the American suffragist
in that she is always a member of a political party. She is a silent
member to be sure, but she adheres to her party, because, through
tradition or conviction, she believes in its policies. Usually the
suffragist is a member of the Social Democratic Party, allied to the
International Socialist Party. She is a suffragist because she is a
Socialist, because woman suffrage, and, indeed, the full equalization of
the laws governing men and women are a part of the Socialist platform in
every country in the world. The woman member of the Social Democratic
party is not working primarily for woman suffrage. She is working for a
complete overturning of the present economic system, and she advocates
_universal adult suffrage_ as a means of bringing about the social and
economic changes demanded by the Socialists.

These German Socialist women are often very advanced spirits, who hold
university degrees, who have entered the professions, and are generally
emancipated from strictly conventional lives. Others, in large numbers,
belong to the intellectual proletarian classes. Their American
prototypes are to be found in the Women's Trade Union League, described
in a later chapter.

The other German suffragists are members of the radical, the moderate
(we should say conservative), and the clerical parties. These women are
middle class, average, intelligent wives and mothers. They correspond
fairly well with the women of the General Federation of Clubs in the
United States, and like the American club women they are affiliated with
the International Council of Women. Locally they are working for the
social reforms demanded by the first American suffrage convention, held
in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. They are demanding the higher
education, married women's property rights, free speech, and the right
to choose a trade or profession. They are demanding other rights, from
lack of which the American woman never suffered. The right to attend a
political meeting was until recently denied to German women. Although
they take a far keener and more intelligent interest in national and
local politics than American women as a rule have ever taken, their
presence at political meetings has but yesterday been sanctioned.

The civil responsibility of the father and mother in many European
countries is barbarously unequal. If a marriage exists between the
parents the father is the only parent recognized. He is sole guardian
and authority. When divorce dissolves a marriage the rights of the
father are generally paramount, even when he is the party accused.

On the other hand, if no marriage exists between the parents, if the
child is what is called illegitimate, the mother is alone responsible
for its maintenance. Not only is the father free from all
responsibility, his status as a father is denied by law. Inquiry into
the paternity of the child is in some countries forbidden. The unhappy
mother may have documentary proof that she was betrayed under promise of
marriage, but she is not allowed to produce her proof.

Under the French Code, the substance of which governs all Europe, it is
distinctly a principle that the woman's honor is and ought to be of less
value than a man's honor. Napoleon personally insisted on this
principle, and more than once emphasized his belief that no importance
should be attached to men's share in illegitimacy.

These and other degrading laws the European progressive women are trying
to remove from the Codes. They have their origin in the belief in "The
imprudence, the frailty, and the imbecility" of women, to quote from
this Code Napoleon.

Whatever women's legal disabilities in the United States, their laws
were never based on the principle that women were imprudent, frail, or
imbecile. They placed women at a distinct disadvantage, it is true, but
it was the disadvantage of the minor child and not of the inferior, the
chattel, the property of man, as in Europe.

Laws in the United States were founded on the assumption that women
stood in perpetual need of protection. The law makers carried this to
the absurd extent of assuming that protection was all the right a woman
needed or all she ought to claim. They even pretended that when a woman
entered the complete protection of the married state she no longer stood
in need of an identity apart from her husband. The working out of this
theory in a democracy was far from ideal, as we shall see.



A little girl sat in a corner of her father's law library watching, with
wide, serious eyes, a scene the like of which was common enough a
generation or two ago. The weeping old woman told a halting story of a
dissipated son, a shrewish daughter-in-law, and a state of servitude on
her own part,--a story pitifully sordid in its details. The farm had
come to her from her father's estate. For forty years she had toiled
side by side with her husband, getting a simple, but comfortable,
living from the soil. Then the husband died. Under the will the son
inherited the farm, and everything on it,--house, furniture, barns,
cattle, tools. Even the money in the bank was his. A clause in the will
provided that the son should give his mother a home during her lifetime.

So here she was, after a life of hard work and loving service, shorn of
everything; a pauper, an unpaid servant in the house of another
woman,--her son's wife. Was it true that the law took her home away from
her,--the farm that descended to her from her father, the house she had
lived in since childhood? Could nothing, _nothing_ be done?

The aged judge shook his head, sadly. "You see, Mrs. Grant," he
explained, "the farm has never really been yours since your marriage,
for then it became by law your husband's property, precisely as if he
had bought it. He had a right to leave it to whom he would. No doubt he
did what he thought was for your good. I wish I could help you, but I
cannot. The law is inexorable in these matters."

After the forlorn old woman had gone the lawyer's child went and stood
by her father's chair. "Why couldn't you help her?" she asked. "Why do
you let them take her home away from her?"

Judge Cady opened the sheep-bound book at his elbow and showed the
little girl a paragraph. Turning the pages, he pointed out others for
her to read. Spelling through the ponderous legal phraseology the little
girl learned that a married woman had no existence, in the eyes of the
law, apart from her husband. She could own no property; she could
neither buy nor sell; she could not receive a gift, even from her own
husband. She was, in fact, her husband's chattel. If he beat her she had
no means of punishing, or even restraining him, unless, indeed, she
could prove that her life was endangered. If she ran away from him the
law forced her to return.

Paragraph after paragraph the child read through, and, unseen by her
father, marked faintly with a pencil. So far as she was aware, father,
and father's library of sheep-bound books, were the beginning and the
end of the law, and to her mind the way to get rid of measures which
took women's homes away from them was perfectly simple. That night when
the house was quiet she stole downstairs, scissors in hand, determined
_to cut every one of those laws out of the book_.

The young reformer was restrained, but only temporarily. As Elizabeth
Cady Stanton she lived to do her part toward revising many of the laws
under which women, in her day, suffered, and her successors, the
organized women of the United States, are busy with their scissors,
revising the rest.

Not alone in Russia, Germany, France, and England do the laws governing
men and women need equalizing. In America, paradise of women, the
generally accepted theory that women have "all the rights they want"
does not stand the test of impartial examination.

In America some women have all the rights they want. Your wife and the
wives of the men you associate with every day usually have all the
rights they want, sometimes a few that they do not need at all. Is the
house yours? The furniture yours? The motor yours? The income yours? Are
the children yours? If you are the average fond American husband, you
will return the proud answer: "No, indeed, they are _ours_."

This is quite as it should be, assuming that all wives are as tenderly
cherished, and as well protected as the women who live on your block.
For a whole big army of women there are often serious disadvantages
connected with that word "ours."

In Boston there lived a family of McEwans,--a man, his wife, and several
half-grown children. McEwan was not a very steady man. He drank
sometimes, and his earning capacity was uncertain. Mrs. McEwan was an
energetic, capable, intelligent woman, tolerant of her husband's
failings, ambitious for her children. She took a large house, furnished
it on the installment plan, and filled it with boarders. The boarders
gave the family an income larger than they had ever possessed before,
and McEwan's contributions fell off. He became an unpaying guest
himself. All his earnings, he explained, were going into investments.
The man was, in fact, speculating in mining stocks.

One day McEwan came home with a face of despair. His creditors, he told
his wife, had descended on him, seized his business, and threatened to
take possession of the boarding house.

"But it is mine," protested the woman, with spirit. "I bought every bit
of furniture with the money my boarders paid me. Nobody can touch my
property or my earnings to satisfy a claim on you. I am not liable for
your debts."

One of the boarders was a lawyer, and to him that night she took the
case. "A woman's earnings are her own in Massachusetts, are they not?"
she demanded.

"You are what the law calls a free trader," replied the lawyer, "and
whatever you earn is yours, certainly. That is--of course you are
recorded at the city clerk's office?"

"Why no. Why should I be?"

"The law requires it. Otherwise this property, and even the money your
boarders pay you, are liable to attachment for your husband's debts.
Unless you make a specific declaration that you are in business for
yourself, the law assumes that the business is your husband's."

"If I went to work for a salary, should I have to be recorded in order
to keep my own money?" Mrs. McEwan was growing angry.

"No," replied the lawyer, "not if you were careful to keep your income
and your husband's absolutely separate. If you both paid installments on
a piano the piano would be your husband's, not yours. If you bought a
house together, the house could be seized for his debts. Everything you
buy with your money is yours. Everything you buy with money he gives you
is his. Everything you buy together is his. You could not protect such
property from your husband's creditors, or from his heirs."

Mrs. McEwan's case is mild, her wrongs faint beside those of a woman in
Los Angeles, California. Her husband was a doctor, and she had been,
before her marriage, a trained nurse. The young woman had saved several
hundred dollars, and she put the money into a first payment on a pretty
little cottage. During the first two or three years of the marriage the
doctor's wife, from time to time, attended cases of illness, usually
contributing her earnings toward the payment for the house or into
furniture for the house. In all she paid about a thousand dollars, or
something like one-third of the cost of the house. Then children came,
and her earning days were over.

Unfortunately the domestic affairs of this household became disturbed.
The doctor contracted a drug habit. He became irregular in his conduct
and ended by running away with a dissolute woman. After he had gone his
wife found that the house she lived in, and which she had helped to buy,
had been sold, without her knowledge or consent. The transaction was
perfectly legal. Community property, that is, property held jointly by
husband and wife, is absolutely controlled by the husband in California.
In that State community property may even be given away, without the
wife's knowledge or consent.

It happened not many years ago that one of the most powerful
millionaires in California, in a moment of generosity, conveyed to one
of his sons a very valuable property. Some time afterwards the father
and son quarreled, and the father attempted to get back his property.
His plea in court was that his wife's consent to the transaction had
never been sought; but the court ruled that since the property was owned
in community, the wife's consent did not have to be obtained.

This particular woman happened to be rich enough to stand the experience
of having a large slice of property given away without her knowledge,
but the same law would have applied to the case of a woman who could
not afford it at all.

It is in the case of women wage earners that these laws bear the
peculiar asperity. Down in the cotton-mill districts of the South are
scores of men who never, from one year to the next, do a stroke of work.
They are supposed to be "weakly." Their wives and children work eleven
hours a day (or night) and every pay day the men go to the mills and
collect their wages. The money belongs to them under the law. Even if
the women had the spirit to protest, the protest would be useless. The
right of a man to collect and to spend his wife's earnings is protected
in many States in the chivalric South. In Texas, for example, a husband
is entitled to his wife's earnings even _though he has deserted her_.

I do not know that this occurs very often in Texas. Probably not, unless
among low-class Negroes. In all likelihood if a Texas woman should
appeal to her employer, and tell him that her husband had abandoned her,
he would refuse to give the man her wages. Should the husband be in a
position to invoke the law, he could claim his wife's earnings,

The Kentucky lady who chose England for her future home, had she known
it, selected the country to which most American women owe their legal
disabilities. American law, except in Louisiana and Florida, is founded
on English common law, and English common law was developed at a period
when men were of much greater importance in the state than women. The
state was a military organization, and every man was a fighter, a
king's defender. Women were valuable only because defenders of kings
had to have mothers.

English common law provided that every married woman must be supported
in as much comfort as her husband's estate warranted. The mothers of the
nation must be fed, clothed, and sheltered. What more could they
possibly ask? In return for permanent board and clothes, the woman was
required to give her husband all of her property, real and personal.
What use had she for property? Did she need it to support herself? In
case of war and pillage could she defend it?

Husband and wife were one--and that one was the man. He was so much the
one that the woman had literally no existence in the eyes of the law.
She not only did not possess any property; she could possess none. Her
husband could not give her any, because there could be no contract
between a married pair. A contract implies at least two people, and
husband and wife were one. The husband could, if he chose, establish a
trusteeship, and thus give his wife the free use of her own. But you can
easily imagine that he did not very often do it.

A man could, also, devise property to his wife by will. Often this was
done, but too often the sons were made heirs, and the wife was left to
what tender mercies they owned. If a man died intestate the wife merely
shared with other heirs. She had no preference.

Under the old English common law, moreover, not only the property, but
also the services of a married woman belonged to her husband. If he
chose to rent out her services, or if she offered to work outside the
home, it followed logically that her wages belonged to him. What use had
she for wages?

On the other hand, every man was held responsible for the support of his
wife. He was responsible for her debts, as long as they were the
necessities of life. He was also responsible for her conduct. Being
propertyless, she could not be held to account for wrongs committed. If
she stole, or destroyed property, or injured the person of another, if
she committed any kind of a misdemeanor in the presence of her husband,
and that also meant if he were in her neighborhood at the time, the law
held him responsible. He should have restrained her.

This was supposed to be a decided advantage to the woman. Whenever a
rebellious woman or group of women voiced their objection to the system
which robbed them of every shred of independence they were always
reminded that the system at the same time relieved them of every shred
of responsibility, even, to an extent, of moral responsibility. "So
great a favorite," comments Blackstone, "is the female sex under the
laws of England."

You may well imagine that, in these circumstances, husbands were
interested that their wives should be very good. The law supported them
by permitting "moderate correction." A married woman might be kept in
what Blackstone calls "reasonable restraint" by her husband. But only
with a stick no larger than his thumb.

The husbandly stick was never imported into the United States. Even the
dour Puritans forbade its use. The very first modification of the
English common law, in its application to American women, was made in
1650, when the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony decreed that a
husband beating his wife, or, for that matter, a wife beating her
husband, should be fined ten pounds, or endure a public whipping.

The Pilgrim Fathers and the other early colonists in America brought
with them the system of English common law under which they and their
ancestors had for centuries been governed. From time to time, as
conditions made them necessary, new laws were enacted and put into
force. In all cases not specifically covered by these new laws, the old
English common law was applied. It did not occur to any one that women
would ever need special laws. The Pilgrim Fathers and their successors,
the Puritans, simply assumed that here, as in the England they had left
behind, woman's place was in the home, where she was protected,
supported, and controlled.

But in the new world woman's place in the home assumed an importance
much greater than it had formerly possessed. Labor was scarce,
manufacturing and trading were undeveloped. Woman's special activities
were urgently needed. Woman's hands helped to raise the roof-tree, her
skill and industry, to a very large extent, furnished the house. She
spun and wove, cured meat, dried corn, tanned skins, made shoes, dipped
candles, and was, in a word, almost the only manufacturer in the
country. But this did not raise her from her position as an inferior.
Woman owned neither her tools nor her raw materials. These her husband
provided. In consequence, husband and wife being one, that one, in
America, as in England, was the husband.

This explanation is necessary in order to understand why the legal
position of most American women to-day is that of inferiors, or, at
best, of minor children.

It is necessary also, in order to understand why, except in matters of
law, American women are treated with such extraordinary consideration
and indulgence. As long as pioneer conditions lasted women were valuable
because of the need of their labor, their special activities. Also, for
a very long period, women were scarce, and they were highly prized not
alone for their labor, but because their society was so desirable. In
other words, pioneer conditions gave woman a better standing in the new
world than she had in the old, and she was treated with an altogether
new consideration and regard.

In England no one thought very badly of a man who was moderately abusive
of his wife. In America, violence against women was, from the first, an
unbearable idea. Laws protecting maid servants, dependent women, and, as
we have seen, even wives, were very early enacted in New England.

But although woman was more dearly prized in the new country than in the
old, no new legislation was made for her benefit. Her legal status, or
rather her absence of legal status apart from her husband, remained
exactly as it had been under the English common law.

No legislature in the United States has deliberately made laws placing
women at a disadvantage with men. Whatever laws are unfair and
oppressive to women have just happened--just grown up like weeds out of
neglected soil.

Let me illustrate. No lawmaker in New Mexico ever introduced a bill into
the legislature making men liable for their wives' torts or petty
misdemeanors. Yet in New Mexico, at this very minute, a wife is so
completely her husband's property that he is responsible for her
behavior. If she should rob her neighbor's clothesline, or wreck a
chicken yard, her unfortunate husband would have to stand trial. Simply
because in New Mexico married women are still living under laws that
were evolved in another civilization, long before New Mexico was dreamed
of as a State.

Nowhere else in the United States are women allowed to shelter their
weak moral natures behind the stern morality of their husbands, but in
more than one State the husband's responsibility for his wife's acts is
assumed. In Massachusetts, for one State, if a woman owned a saloon and
sold beer on Sunday, she would be liable to arrest, and so also would
her husband, provided he were in the house when the beer was sold. Both
would probably be fined. Simply because it was once the law that a
married woman had no separate existence apart from her husband, this
absurd law, or others as absurd, remain on the statute books of almost
every State in the Union.

The ascent of woman, which began with the abolishment of corporeal
punishment of wives, proceeded very slowly. Most American women married,
and most American wives were kindly treated. At least public opinion
demanded that they be treated with kindness. Long before any other
modification of her legal status was gained, a woman subjected to
cruelty at the hands of her lawful spouse was at liberty to seek police

The reason why police protection was so seldom sought is plain enough.
Imagine a woman complaining of a husband who would be certain to beat
her again for revenge, and to whom she was bound irrevocably by laws
stronger even than the laws on the statute books. Remember that the only
right she had was the right to be supported, and if she left her
husband's house she left her only means of living. She could hardly
support herself, for few avenues of industry were open to women. She was
literally a pauper, and when there is nowhere else to lay his head, even
the most miserable pauper thinks twice before he runs away from the
poorhouse. Besides, the woman who left her husband had to give up her
children. They too were the husband's property.

There were some women who hesitated before they consented to pauperize
themselves by marrying. Widows were especially wary, if old stories are
to be trusted. A story is told in the New York University Law School of
a woman in Connecticut who took with her, as a part of her wedding
outfit, a very handsome mahogany bureau, bequeathed her by her
grandfather. After a few years of marriage the husband suddenly died,
leaving no will. The home and all it contained were sold at auction. The
widow was permitted to buy certain objects of furniture, and among them
was her cherished bureau. Where the poor woman found the money with
which to buy is not revealed. In time this woman married again, and
again her husband died without a will. Again there was an auction, and
again the widow purchased her beloved heirloom. It seems possible that
this time she had saved money in anticipation of the necessity.

A little later, for she was still young and attractive, a suitor
appeared, offering his heart and "all his worldly goods." "No, I thank
you," replied the sorely tried creature, "I prefer to keep my bureau."

The first struggle made by women in their own behalf was against this
condition of marital slavery. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott,
Lydia Maria Child, and others of that brave band of rebellious women,
were active for years, addressing legislative committees in New York and
Massachusetts, circulating petitions, writing to newspapers, agitating
everywhere in favor of married women's property rights. Finally it began
to dawn on the minds of men that there might be a certain public
advantage, as well as private justice, attaching to separate ownership
by married women of their own property.

In 1839 the Massachusetts State Legislature passed a cautious measure
giving married women qualified property rights. It was not until 1848
that a really effective Married Women's Property Law was secured, by
action of the New York State Assembly. The law served as a model in many
of the new Western States just then framing their laws.

These New York legislators, and the Western legislators who first
granted property rights to married women, were actuated less by a sense
of justice towards women than by enlightened selfishness. The effect of
so much freedom on women themselves was a matter for grave conjecture.
It was not suggested by any of the American debaters, as it was later on
the floors of the English Parliament, that women, if they controlled
their own property, would undoubtedly squander it on men whom they
preferred to their husbands. But it was prophesied that women once in
possession of money would desert their husbands by regiments,--which
speaks none too flatteringly of the husbands of that day.

Men of property stood for the Married Women's Property Act, because they
perceived plainly that their own wealth, devised to daughters who could
not control it, might easily be gambled away, or wasted through
improvidence, or diverted to the use of strangers. In other words, they
knew that their property, when daughters inherited it, became the
property of their sons-in-law. They had no guarantee that their own
grandchildren would ever have the use of it, unless it was controlled by
their mothers.

It was the women's clubs and women's organizations in America, as it was
the Women's Councils in Europe, that actively began the agitation
against women's legal disabilities. The National Woman Suffrage
Association, oldest of all women's organizations in the United States,
has been calling attention to the unequal laws, and demanding their
abolishment, for two generations.

Practically all of the state federations of women's clubs have
legislative committees, and it is usually the business of these
committees to codify the laws of their respective States which apply
directly to women. In some cases a woman lawyer is made chairman, and
the work is done under her direction. Sometimes, as in Texas, a well
known and friendly man lawyer is retained for the task. Almost
invariably the report of the legislative committee contains disagreeable
surprises. American women have been so accustomed to their privileges
that they have taken their rights for granted, and are usually
astonished when they find how limited their rights actually are.

There are some States in the Union where women are on terms of something
like equality with men. There is one State to which all intelligent
women look with a sort of envious, admiring, questioning curiosity,
Colorado, which is literally the woman's paradise. In Colorado it would
be difficult to find even the smallest inequality between men and women.
They vote on equal terms, and if any woman deserves to go to the
legislature, and succeeds in convincing a large enough public of the
fact, nothing stands in the way of her election. One woman, Mrs. Alma
Lafferty, is a member of the present legislature, and she has had
several predecessors.

But Colorado women have a larger influence still in legislative
matters. To guard their interests they have a Legislative Committee of
the State Federation of Women's Clubs, consisting of thirty to forty
carefully chosen women.

This committee has permanent headquarters in Denver during every session
of the legislature, and every bill which directly affects women and
children, before reaching the floor of either house, is submitted for
approval to the committee.

Miss Jane Addams has declared, and Miss Addams is pretty good authority,
that the laws governing women and children in Colorado are superior to
those of any other State. Women receive equal pay for equal work in
Colorado. They are permitted to hold any office. They are co-guardians
of their children, and the education of children has been placed almost
entirely in the hands of women. This does not mean that Colorado has
weakened its schools by barring men from the teaching profession. It
means that women are superintendents of schools in many counties, and
that one woman was, for more than ten years, State superintendent of

Contrast Colorado with Louisiana, possibly the last State in the Union a
well-informed woman would choose for a residence. The laws of Louisiana
were based, not on the English common law, but on the Code Napoleon,
which regards women merely as a working, breeding, domestic animal.

"There is one thing that is not _French_," thundered the great Napoleon,
closing a conference on his famous code, "and that is that a woman can
do as she pleases."


The framers of Louisiana's laws were particular to guard against too
great a freedom of action on the part of its women. Toward the end of
Mrs. Jefferson Davis's life she added a codicil to her will, giving to a
certain chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy a number of very
valuable relics of her husband, and of the short-lived Confederate
Government. Her action was made public, and it was then revealed that
two women had signed the document as witnesses. Instantly Mrs. Davis's
attention was called to the fact that in Louisiana, where she was then
living, no woman may witness a document. Women's signatures are

In Louisiana your disabilities actually begin when you become an engaged
girl. From that happy moment on you are under the dominance of a man.
Your wedding presents are not yours, but his. If you felt like giving a
duplicate pickle-fork to your mother, you could not legally do so, and
after you were married, if your husband wanted that pickle-fork, he
could get it. Your clothing, your dowry, become community property as
soon as the marriage ceremony is over, and community property in
Louisiana is controlled absolutely by the husband. Every dollar a woman
earns there is at her husband's disposal. Without her husband's consent
a Louisiana woman may not go into a court of law, even though she may be
in business for herself and the action sought is in defense of her

Nor does the Louisiana woman fare any better as a mother. Then, in fact,
her position is nothing short of humiliating. During her husband's
lifetime he is sole guardian of their children. At his death she may
become their guardian, but if she marries a second time--and the law
permits her to remarry, provided she waits ten months--she retains her
children only by the formal consent of her first husband's family. If
they dislike her, or disapprove of her second marriage, they may demand
the custody of the children.

It is true that many of these absurd laws in Louisiana are not now often
enforced. It is also true that in Louisiana and other states few men are
so unjust to their wives as to take advantage of unequal property
rights. Laws always lag behind the sense of justice which lives in man.
But the point is that unequal laws still remain on our statute books,
and they may be, and sometimes are, enforced.

Between these two extremes, Colorado and Louisiana, women have the other
forty-six States to choose. None of them offers perfect equality. Even
in Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah--the three States besides Colorado where
women vote--women are in such a minority that their votes are powerless
to remove all their disabilities. Very rarely have club women even so
much felicity as the New York State Federation, whose legislative
chairman, Miss Emilie Bullowa, reported that she was unable to find a
single unimportant inequality in the New York laws governing the
property rights of women.

In most of the older States the property rights of married women are now
fairly guaranteed, but the proud boast that in America no woman is the
slave of her husband will have to be modified when it is known that in
at least seventeen States these rights are still denied.

The husband absolutely controls his wife's property and her earnings in
Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, California, Arizona, North Dakota, and
Idaho. He has virtual control--that is to say, the wife's rights are
merely provisional--in Alabama, New Mexico, and Missouri.

Women to control their own business property must be registered as
traders on their own account in these States: Georgia, Montana, Nevada,
Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia.

Nor are women everywhere permitted to work on equal terms with men.

[Illustration: MISS EMILIE BULLOWA.]

There is a current belief, often expressed, that in the United States
every avenue of industry is open to women on equal terms with men. This
is not quite true. In some States a married woman may not engage in any
business without permission from the courts. In Texas, Louisiana, and
Georgia this is the case. In Wyoming, where women vote, but where they
are in such minority that their votes count for little, a married woman
must satisfy the court that she is under the necessity of earning her

If you are a woman, married or unmarried, and wish to practice law, you
are barred from seven of the United States. The legal profession is
closed to women in Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Delaware,
Tennessee, and South Carolina.

In some States they discourage women from aspiring to the learned
professions by refusing them the advantages of higher education which
they provide for their brothers.

Four state universities close their doors to women, in spite of the
fact that women's taxes help support the universities. These States are
Georgia, Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. The last-named admits
women to post-graduate courses.

You can hold no kind of an elective office, you cannot be even a county
superintendent of schools in Alabama or Arkansas, if you are a woman. In
Alabama, indeed, you may not be a minister of the gospel, a doctor of
medicine, or a notary public. Florida likewise will have nothing to do
with a woman doctor.

Only a few women want to hold office or engage in professional work.
Every woman hopes to be a mother. What then is the legal status of the
American mother? When the club women began the study of their position
before the law they were amazed to find, in all but ten of the States
and territories, that they had absolutely no control over the destinies
of their own children. In ten States only, and in the District of
Columbia, are women co-guardians with their husbands of their children.

In Pennsylvania if a woman supports her children, or has money to
contribute to their support, she has joint guardianship. Under somewhat
similar circumstances Rhode Island women have the same right.

In all the other States and territories children belong to their
fathers. They can be given away, or willed away, from the mother. That
this almost never happens is due largely to the fact that, as a rule, no
one except the mother of a child is especially keen to possess it.

It is due also in large measure to the fact that courts of justice are
growing reluctant to administer such archaic laws.

The famous Tillman case is an example. Senator Ben Tillman of South
Carolina has one son,--a dissipated, ill-tempered, and altogether
disreputable man, whose wife, after several miserable years of married
life, left him, taking with her their two little girls. South Carolina
allows no divorce for any cause. The sanctity of the marriage tie is
held so lightly in South Carolina that the law permits it to be abused
at will by the veriest brute or libertine. Mrs. Tillman could not
divorce her husband, so she took her children and went to live quietly
at her parent's home in the city of Washington.

One day the father of the children, young Tillman, appeared at that
home, and in a fit of drunken resentment against his wife, kidnapped the
children. He could not care for the children, probably had no wish to
have them near him, but he took them back to South Carolina, and _gave_
them to his parents, made a present of a woman's flesh and blood and
heart to people who hated her and whom she hated in return.

Under the laws of South Carolina, under the printed statutes, young
Tillman had a perfect right to do this thing, and his father, a United
States Senator, upheld him in his act. Young Mrs. Tillman, however,
showed so little respect for the statutes that she sued her husband and
his parents to recover her babies. The judge before whom the suit was
brought was in a dilemma. There was the law--but also there was justice
and common sense. To the everlasting honor of that South Carolina judge,
justice and common sense triumphed, and he ruled that _the law was

There are other hardships in this law denying to mothers the right of
co-guardianship of their children. Two names signed to a child's working
papers is a pretty good thing sometimes, for it often happens that
selfish and lazy fathers are anxious to put their children to work,
when the mothers know they are far too young. A woman in Scranton,
Pennsylvania, told me, with tears filling her eyes, that her children
had been taken by their father to the silk mills as soon as they were
tall enough to suit a not too exacting foreman. "What could I say about
it, when he went and got the papers?" she sighed.

The father--not the mother--controls the services of his children. He
can collect their wages, and he does. Very, very often he squanders the
money they earn, and no one may interfere.

A family of girls in Fall River, Massachusetts, were met every pay day
at the doors of the mill by their father, who exacted of each one her
pay envelope, unopened. It was his regular day for getting drunk and
indulging in an orgy of gambling. Often more than half of the girls'
wages would have vanished before night. Twice the entire amount was
wasted in an hour. This kept on until the girls passed their childhood
and were mature enough to rebel successfully.

It is the father and not the mother that may claim the potential
services of a child.

Many times have these unjust laws been protested against. In every State
in the Union where they exist they have been protested against by
organized groups of intelligent women. But their protests have been
received with apathy, and, in some instances, with contempt by
legislators. Only last year a determined fight was made by the women of
California for a law giving them equal guardianship of their children.
The women's bill was lost in the California Legislature, and lost by a
large majority.

What arguments did the California legislators use against the proposed
measure? Identically the same that were made in Massachusetts and New
York a quarter of a century ago. If women had the guardianship of their
children, would anything prevent them from taking the children and
leaving home? What would become of the sanctity of the home, with its
lawful head shorn of his paternal dignity? In California a husband is
head of the family in very fact, or at least a law of the State says so.

At one time the law which made the husband the head of the home
guaranteed to the family support by the husband. It does not do that
now. There are laws on the statute books of many States obliging the
wife to support her husband if he is disabled, and the children, if the
husband defaults. There are no laws compelling the husband to support
his wife. The husband is under an assumed obligation to support his
family, but there exists no means of forcing him to do his duty. Family
desertion has become one of the commonest and one of the most baffling
of modern social problems. Everybody is appalled by its prevalence, but
nobody seems to know what to do about it. The Legal Aid Society of New
York City reports about three new cases of family desertion for every
day in the year. Other agencies in other cities report a state of
affairs quite as serious.

Laws have been passed in most States making family desertion a
misdemeanor, and in New York a recent law has made it a felony.
Unfortunately there has been devised no machinery to enforce these laws,
so they are practically non-existent. It is true that if the deserting
husband is arrested he may be sent to jail or to the rock pile.

But that does not cure him nor support his family. Mostly he is not
arrested. He has only to take himself out of the reach of the local
authorities. In New York a deserting husband, though he is counted a
felon, needs only to cross the river to New Jersey to be reasonably
safe. Imagine the State of New York spending good money to chase a man
whom it does not want as a citizen, and whom it can only punish by
sending to jail for a short period. The State is better off without such
a man. To bring him back would not even benefit his deserted family.

Women, far more law abiding than men, insist that a system which evolved
out of feudal conditions, and has for its very basis the assumption of
the weakness, ignorance, and dependence of women, has no place in
twentieth century civilization.

American women are no longer weak, ignorant, dependent. The present
social order, in which military force is subordinated to industry and
commerce, narrows the gulf between them, and places men and women
physically on much the same plane. As for women's intellectual ability
to decide their own legal status, they are, taken the country over,
rather better educated than men. There are more girls than boys in the
high schools of the United States; more girls than boys in the higher
grammar grades. Fewer women than men are numbered among illiterate. As
for the great middle class of women, it is obvious that they are better
read than their men. Their specific knowledge of affairs may be less,
but their general intelligence is not less than men's.

Increasingly women are ceasing to depend on men for physical support.
Increasingly even married women are beginning to think of themselves as
independent human beings. Their work of bearing and rearing children, of
managing the household, begins to assume a new dignity, a real value,
in their eyes.

In New Zealand at the present time statutes are proposed which shall
determine exactly the share a wife may legally claim in her husband's
income. American women may not need such a law, but they insist that
they need something to take the place of that one which in eleven States
makes it possible for a husband to claim all of his wife's income.



The big elevator, crowded with shoppers to the point of actual
discomfort, contained only one man. He wore a white-duck uniform, and
recited rapidly and monotonously, as the car shot upward: "Corsets,
millinery, muslin underwear, shirt-waists, coats and suits, infants'
wear, and ladies' shoes, second floor; no ma'am, carpets and rugs on the
third floor; this car don't go to the restaurant; take the other side;
groceries, harness, sporting goods, musical instruments, phonographs,
men's shoes, trunks, traveling bags, and toys, fifth floor."

Buying and selling, serving and being served--women. On every floor, in
every aisle, at every counter, women. In the vast restaurant, which
covers several acres, women. Waiting their turn at the long line of
telephone booths, women. Capably busy at the switch boards, women. Down
in the basement buying and selling bargains in marked-down summer
frocks, women. Up under the roof, posting ledgers, auditing accounts,
attending to all the complex bookkeeping of a great metropolitan
department store, women. Behind most of the counters on all the floors
between, women. At every cashier's desk, at the wrappers' desks, running
back and forth with parcels and change, short-skirted women. Filling the
aisles, passing and repassing, a constantly arriving and departing
throng of shoppers, women. Simply a moving, seeking, hurrying mass of
femininity, in the midst of which the occasional man shopper, man clerk,
and man supervisor, looks lost and out of place.

To you, perhaps, the statement that six million women in the United
States are working outside of the home for wages is a simple, unanalyzed
fact. You grasp it as an intellectual abstraction, without much
appreciation of its human significance. The mere reading of statistics
does not help you to realize the changed status of women, and of
society. You need to see the thing with your own eyes.

Standing on the corner of the Bowery and Grand Street, in New York, when
the Third Avenue trains overhead are roaring their way uptown packed
with homeward-bound humanity, or on the corner of State and Madison
streets, in Chicago, or on the corner of Front and Lehigh streets, in
Philadelphia; pausing at the hour of six at the junction of any city's
great industrial arteries, you get a full realization of the change. Of
the pushing, jostling, clamoring mob, which the sidewalks are much too
narrow to contain, observe the preponderance of girls. From factory,
office, and department store they come, thousands and tens of thousands
of girls. Above the roar of the elevated, the harsh clang of the
electric cars, the clatter of drays and wagons, the shouting of
hucksters, the laughter and oaths of men, their voices float, a shrill,
triumphant treble in the orchestra of toil.

You may get another vivid, yet subtle, realization of the
interdependence of women and modern industry if you manage to penetrate
into the operating-room of a telephone exchange. Any hour will do. Any
day in the week. There are no nights, nor Sundays, nor holidays in a
telephone exchange. The city could not get along for one single minute
in one single hour of the twenty-four without the telephone girl. Her
hands move quickly over the face of the switch board, picking up long,
silk-wound wires, reaching high, plugging one after another the holes of
the switch board. The wires cross and recross, until the switch board is
like a spider web, and in the tangle of lines under the hands of the
telephone girl are enmeshed the business affairs of a city.

What would happen if this army of women was suddenly withdrawn from the
telephone exchanges? Men could not take their places. That experiment
has been tried more than once, and it has always failed.

Having seen how well women serve industry, go back to the department
store and see how they dominate it also.

The department store apparently exists for women. The architect who
designed the building studied her necessities. The makers of store
furniture planned counters, shelves, and seats to suit her stature.
Buyers of goods know that their jobs are forfeit unless they can guess
what her taste in gowns and hats is going to be six months hence.

WOMEN'S DEMAND ON INDUSTRY Woman dominates the department store for the
plain reason that she supports it. Whoever earns the income, and that
point has been somewhat in question lately, there is no doubt at all as
to who spends it. She does. Hence, she is able to control the conditions
under which this business is conducted.

You can see for yourself that this is so. Walk through any large
department store and observe how much valuable space is devoted to
making women customers comfortable. There is always a drawing-room with
easy-chairs and couches; plenty of little desks with handsome stationery
where the customer may write notes; here, and in the retiring-room
adjoining, are uniformed maids to offer service. But these things are
not all that the women who support industry demand of the men in power.
They demand that industry be carried on under conditions favorable to
the health and comfort of the workers.

Not until the development of the department store were women able to
observe at close range the conduct of modern business. Not unnaturally
it was in the department store that they began one of the most ambitious
of their present-day activities,--that of humanizing industry.

It was just twenty years ago that New York City was treated to a huge
joke. It was such a joke that even the miserable ones with whom it was
concerned were obliged to smile. An obscure group of women, calling
themselves the Working Women's Society, came out with the announcement
that they proposed to form the women clerks of the city into a labor

These women said that the girls in the department stores were receiving
wages lower than the sweat-shop standard. They said that a foreign woman
in a downtown garment shop could earn seven dollars a week, whereas an
American girl in a fashionable store received about four dollars and a

They also charged that the city ordinance providing seats for saleswomen
was habitually violated, and that the girls were forced to stand from
ten to fourteen hours a day. They said that sanitary conditions in the
cloak rooms and lunch rooms of some of the stores were such as to
endanger health and life. They said that the whole situation was so bad
that no clerk endured it for a longer period than five years. Mostly
they were used up in two years. They proposed a labor union of retail
clerks as the only possible resource. Their effort failed.

The trades union idea at that time had not reached the girl behind the
counter. As a matter of fact it has not reached her yet, and it probably
never will. The department-store clerk considers herself a higher social
being than the ordinary working-girl, and in a way she is justified. The
exceptionally intelligent department-store clerk has one chance in a
thousand of rising to the well-paid, semi-professional post of buyer.
Also the exceptionally attractive girl has possibly one chance in five
thousand of marrying a millionaire. It is a long chance now, and it was
a longer chance a dozen years ago, because there were fewer millionaires
then than now, but it served well enough to cause the failure of the
trades union plan.

There is one thing that never fails, however, and that is a righteous
protest. Out of the protest of that little, obscure group of working
women in New York City was born a movement which has spread beyond the
Atlantic Ocean, which has effected legislation in many States of the
Union, which has even determined an extremely important legal decision
in the Supreme Court of the United States.

A group of rich and influential women, prominent in many philanthropic
efforts, became interested in the Working Women's Society. They
investigated the charges brought against the department stores, and what
they discovered made them resolve that conditions must be changed.

In May, 1890, the late Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell, Mrs. Frederick
Nathan, and others, called a large mass meeting in Chickering Hall. Mrs.
Nathan had a constructive plan for raising the standard in shop
conditions, especially those affecting women employees.

If women would simply withdraw their patronage from the stores where,
during the Christmas season, women and children toiled long hours at
night without any extra compensation, sooner or later the night work
would cease. A few stores, said Mrs. Nathan, maintained a standard
above the average. It was within the power of the women of New York to
raise all the others to that standard, and afterwards it might be
possible to go farther and establish a standard higher than the present

"We do not desire to blacklist any firm," declared Mrs. Nathan, "but we
can _whitelist_ those firms which treat their employees humanely. We can
make and publish a list of all the shops where employees receive fair
treatment, and we can agree to patronize only those shops. By acting
openly and publishing our White List we shall be able to create an
immense public opinion in favor of just employers."

Thus was the Consumers' League of New York ushered into existence. Eight
months after the Chickering Hall meeting the committee appointed to
co-operate with the Working Women's Society in preparing its list of
fair firms had finished its work and made its report. The new League was
formally organized on January 1, 1891.

[Illustration: Mrs. Frederick Nathan]


The first White List issued in New York contained only eight firm names.
The number was disappointingly small, even to those who knew the
conditions. Still more disappointing was the indifference of the other
firms to their outcast position. Far from evincing a desire to earn a
place on the White List, they cast aspersions on a "parcel of women" who
were trying to "undermine business credit," and scouted the very idea of
an organized feminine conscience.

"Wait until the women want Easter bonnets," sneered one merchant. "Do
you think they will pass up anything good because the store is not on
their White List?"

Clearly something stronger than moral suasion was called for. Even as
far back as 1891 a few women had begun to doubt the efficacy of that
indirect influence, supposed to be woman's strongest weapon. What was
the astonishment of the merchants when the League framed, and caused to
be introduced into the New York Assembly, a bill known as the Mercantile
Employers' Bill, to regulate the employment of women and children in
mercantile establishments, and to place retail stores, from the
smallest to the largest, under the inspection of the State Factory

The bill was promptly strangled, but the next year, and the next, and
still the next, it obstinately reappeared. Finally, in 1896, four years
after it was first introduced, the bill struggled through the lower
House. In spite of powerful commercial influences the bill was reported
in the Senate, and some of the senators became warmly interested in it.
A commission was appointed to make an official investigation into
conditions of working women in New York City.

The findings of this Rheinhard Commission, published afterwards in two
large volumes, were sensational enough. Merchants reluctantly testified
to employing grown women at a salary of _thirty-three cents a day_. They
confessed to employing little girls of eleven and twelve years, in
defiance of the child-labor law. They declared that pasteboard and
wooden stock boxes were good enough seats for saleswomen; that they
should not expect to sit down in business hours anyhow. They defended,
on what they called economic grounds, their long hours and uncompensated
overtime. They defended their systems of fines, which sometimes took
away from a girl almost the entire amount of her weekly salary. They
threatened, if a ten-hour law for women under twenty-one years old were
passed, to employ older women. Thus thousands of young and helpless
girls would be thrown out of employment into the hands of charity.

The Senate heard the report of the Rheinhard Commission, and in spite of
the merchants' protests the women's bill was passed without a dissenting

The most important provision of the bill was the ten-hour limit which it
placed on the work of women under twenty-one. The overwhelming majority
of department-store clerks are girls under twenty-one. The bill also
provided seats for saleswomen, and specified the number of
seats,--one to every three clerks. It forbade the employment of
children, except those holding working certificates from the
authorities. These, and other minor provisions, affected all retail
stores, as far as the law was obeyed.

As a matter of fact the Consumers' League's bill carried a "joker" which
made its full enforcement practically impossible. The matter of
inspection of stores was given over to the local boards of health,
supposedly experts in matters of health and sanitation, but, as it
proved, ignorant of industrial conditions. In New York City, after a
year of this inadequate inspection, political forces were brought to
bear, and then there were no store inspectors.

Year after year, for twelve years, the Consumers' League tried to
persuade the legislature that department and other retail stores needed
inspection by the State Factory Department. A little more than a year
ago they succeeded. After the bill placing all retail stores under
factory inspection was passed, a committee from the Merchants'
Association went before Governor Hughes and appealed to him to veto what
they declared was a vicious and wholly superfluous measure. Governor
Hughes, however, signed the bill.

In the first three months of its enforcement over twelve hundred
infractions of the Mercantile Law were reported in Greater New York. No
less than nine hundred and twenty-three under-age children were taken
out of their places as cash girls, stock girls, and wrappers, and were
sent back to their homes or to school. The contention of the Con sumers'
League that retail stores needed regulation seems to have been

To the business man capital and labor are both abstractions. To women
capital may be an abstraction, but labor is a purely human proposition,
a thing of flesh and blood. The department-store owners who so bitterly
fought the Mercantile Law, and for years afterwards fought its
enforcement, were not monsters of cruelty. They were simply business
men, with the business man's contracted vision. They could think only
in terms of money profit and money loss.

In spite of this radical difference in the point of view, women have
succeeded, in a measure, in controlling the business policy of the
stores supported by their patronage.

The White List would be immensely larger if the Consumers' League would
concede the matter of uncompensated overtime at the Christmas season.
Hundreds of stores fill every condition of the standard except this one.
The League stands firm on the point, and up to the present so do the
stores. Only the long, slow process of public education will remove the
custom whereby _thousands of young girls and women are compelled every
holiday season to give their employers from thirty to forty hours of
uncompensated labor_.

No one has ever tried to compute the amount of unpaid overtime extorted
in the business departments of nearly all city stores during three to
five months of every winter. The customer, by declining to purchase
after a certain hour, is able to release the weary saleswoman at six
o'clock. She is not able to release the equally weary girls who toil in
the bookkeeping and auditing departments.

That, in these days of adding and tabulating machines, accounting in
most stores is still done by cheap hand labor, is a statement which
strains credulity. Merely from the standpoint of business economy it
seems absurd. But it is a fact easily verified.

I tested it by obtaining employment in the auditing department of one of
the largest and most respectable stores in New York. In this store, and,
according to the best authorities, in most other stores, the accounting
force is made up of girls not long out of grammar school, ignorant and
incapable--but cheap. They work slowly, and as each day's sales are
posted and audited before the close of the day following, the business
force has to work until nine and ten o'clock several nights in the week.
In some cases they work every night.

Only the enlightening power of education of employers, education of
public opinion, can be expected to overcome this blight, and the
Consumers' League, realizing this, is preparing the way for education.

The Consumers' League began with a purely benevolent motive, and in
this early philanthropic stage it gained immediate popularity. City
after city, State after State, formed Consumers' Leagues, until, in
1899, a National League, with branches in twenty-two States, was
organized. The National League, far from being a philanthropic society,
has be come a scientific association for the study of industrial

When the original Consumers' League undertook its first piece of
legislation in behalf of women workers the members knew that they were
right, but they had very few reasons to offer in defense of their
claim. The New York League and all of the others have been collecting
reasons ever since. To-day they have a comprehensive and systematized
collection of reasons why women should not work long hours; why they
should not work at night; why manufacturing should not be carried on in
tenements; why all home wage-earning should be forbidden; why the speed
of machines should be regulated by law; why pure-food laws should be
extended; why minimum wage rates should be established.

In the headquarters of the National League in New York City a group of
trained experts work constantly, collecting and recording a vast body of
facts concerning the human side of industry. It is ammunition which
tells. One single blast of it, fired in the direction of a laundry in
Portland, Oregon, two years ago, performed the wonderful feat of blowing
a large hole through the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the
United States.

There was a law in Oregon which decreed that the working day of women in
factories and laundries should be ten hours long. The law was constantly
violated, especially in the steam laundries of Portland. One night a
factory inspector walked into the laundry of one Curt Muller, and found
working there, long after closing time, one Mrs. Gotcher. The inspector
promptly sent Mrs. Gotcher home and arrested Mr. Muller.

The next day in court Mr. Muller was fined ten dollars. Instead of
paying the fine he appealed, backed up in his action by the other
laundrymen of Portland, on the ground that the ten-hour law for women
workers was unconstitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment to the
Constitution guarantees to every adult member of the community the right
freely to contract. A man or a woman may contract with an employer to
work as many hours a day, or a night, for whatever wages, in whatever
dangerous or unhealthful or menacing conditions, _unless_ "there is fair
ground to say that there is material danger to the public health or
safety, or to the health and safety of the employee, or to the general
welfare...." This is the legal decision on which most protective
legislation in the United States has been based.

Several years ago, in Illinois, a law providing an eight-hour day for
women was declared unconstitutional because nobody's health or safety
was endangered; and on the same grounds the same fate met a New York
law forbidding all-night employment of women.

So Mr. Curt Muller and the laundrymen of Portland, Oregon, had reason to
believe that they could attack the Oregon law. The case was appealed,
and appealed again, by the laundrymen, and finally reached the Supreme
Court of the United States. Then the Consumers' League took a hand.

The brief for the State of Oregon, "defendant in error," was prepared by
Louis D. Brandeis, of Boston, assisted by Josephine Goldmark, one of the
most effective workers in the League's New York headquarters. This brief
is probably one of the most remarkable legal documents in existence. It
consists of one hundred and twelve printed pages, of which a few
paragraphs were written by the attorney for the State. All the rest was
contributed, under Miss Goldmark's direction, from the Consumers'
League's wonderful collection of reasons why women workers should be

The League's reply to the Oregon laundrymen who asked leave to work
their women employees far into the night was, "The World's Experience
upon Which the Legislation Limiting the Hours of Labor for Women is
Based." It is simply a mass of testimony taken from hearings before the
English Parliament, before state legislatures, state labor boards; from
the reports of factory inspectors in many countries; from reports of
industrial commissions in the United States and elsewhere; from medical
books; from reports of boards of health.

REASONS FOR PROTECTING WOMEN WORKERS The brief included a short and
interesting chapter, containing a number of things the League had
collected on the subject of laundries. Supreme Court judges cannot be
expected to know that laundry work is classed by experts among the
dangerous trades. That washing clothes, from a simple home or backyard
occupation, has been transformed into a highly-organized factory trade
full of complicated and often extremely dangerous machinery; that the
atmosphere of a steam laundry is more conducive to tuberculosis and the
other occupational diseases than cotton mills; that the work in
laundries, being irregular, is conducive to a general low state of
morals; that, on the whole, women should not be required to spend more
time than necessary in laundries; all this was set forth.

Medical testimony showed the physical differences between men and
women; the lesser power of women to endure long hours of standing; the
heightened susceptibility of women to industrial poisons--lead, naphtha,
and the like. A long chapter of testimony on the effect of child-bearing
in communities where the women had toiled long hours before marriage, or
afterwards, was included.

The testimony of factory inspectors, of industrial experts, of employers
in England, Germany, France, America, revealed the bad effect of long
hours on women's safety, both physical and moral. It revealed the good
effect, on the individual health, home life, and general welfare, of
short hours of labor.

Nor was the business aspect of the case neglected. That people
accomplish as much in an eight-hour day as in a twelve-hour day has
actually been demonstrated. The brief stated, for one instance, the
experience of a bicycle factory in Massachusetts.

In this place young women were employed to sort the ball bearings which
went into the machines. They did this by touch, and no girl was of use
to the firm unless her touch was very sensitive and very sure. The head
of this firm became convinced that the work done late in the afternoon
was of inferior quality, and he tried the experiment of cutting the
hours from ten to nine. The work was done on piece wages, and the girls
at first protested against the nine-hour day, fearing that their pay
envelopes would suffer. To their astonishment they earned as much in
nine hours as they had in ten. In time the employer cut the working day
down to eight hours and a half, and in addition gave the girls
ten-minute rests twice a day. Still they earned their full wages, and
they continued to earn full wages after the day became eight hours
long. The employer testified before the United States Industrial
Commission of 1900 that he believed he could successfully shorten the
day to seven hours and a half and get the same amount of work

What can you do against testimony like that? The Consumers' League
convinced the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Oregon
ten-hour law was upheld.

The importance of this decision cannot be overestimated. On it hangs the
validity of nearly all the laws which have been passed in the United
States for the protection of women workers. If the Oregon law had been
declared unconstitutional, laws in twenty States, or practically all
the States where women work in factories, would have been in perpetual
danger, and the United States might easily have sunk to a position
occupied now by no leading country in Europe.

Great Britain has had protective legislation for women workers since
1844. In 1847 the labor of women in English textile mills was limited to
ten hours a day, the period we are now worrying about, as being possibly
contrary to our Constitution. France, within the past five years, has
established a ten-hour day, broken by one hour of rest. Switzerland,
Germany, Holland, Austria, Italy, limit the hours of women's labor. In
several countries there are special provisions giving extra time off to
women who have household responsibilities. What would our
Constitution-bound law makers say to such a proposition, if any one had
the hardihood to suggest it?

If this law had not been upheld by the United States Supreme Court the
women of no State could have hoped to secure further legislation for
women workers. As it is, women in many States are preparing to establish
what is now known as "The Oregon Standard," that is, a ten-hour day for
all working women.

Nothing in connection with the woman movement is more significant,
certainly nothing was more unexpected, than the voluntary abandonment,
on the part of women, of class prejudice and class distinctions. Where
formerly the interest of the leisured woman in her wage-earning sisters
was of a sentimental or philanthropic character, it has become practical
and democratic.

The Young Women's Christian Association has had an industrial
department, which up to a recent period concerned itself merely with the
spiritual welfare of working girls. Prayer meetings in factories, clubs,
and classes in the Association headquarters, working-girls' boarding
homes, and other philanthropic efforts were the limits of the
Association's activities. The entire policy has changed of late, and
under the capable direction of Miss Annie Marian MacLean, of Brooklyn,
New York, the industrial department of the Association is doing
scientific investigation of labor conditions of women.

In a cracker factory I once saw a paid worker in the Young Women's
Christian Association pause above a young girl lying on the floor,
crimson with fever, and apparently in the throes of a serious illness.
With angelic pity on her face the Association worker stooped and
slipped a tract into the sick girl's hand. The kind of industrial
secretary the Association now employs would send for an ambulance and
see that the girl had the best of hospital care. She would inquire
whether the girl's illness was caused by the conditions under which she
worked, and she would know if it were possible to have those conditions

WOMEN'S CLUBS STUDYING LABOR PROBLEMS Nearly every state federation of
women's clubs has its industrial committee, and many large clubs have a
corresponding department. It is these industrial sections of the women's
clubs which are such a thorn in the flesh of Mr. John Kirby, Jr., the
new president of the National Manufacturers' Association. In his
inaugural address Mr. Kirby warned his colleagues that women's clubs
were not the ladylike, innocuous institutions that too-confiding man
supposed them to be. In those clubs, he declared, their own wives and
daughters were listening to addresses by the worst enemies of the
Manufacturers' Association, the labor leaders. By which he meant that
the club women were inviting trade-union men and women to present the
worker's side of industrial subjects. "Soon," exclaimed Mr. Kirby, "we
shall have to fight the women as well as the unions."

The richest and most aristocratic woman's club in the country is the
Colony Club of New York. The Colony Club was organized by a number of
women from the exclusive circles of New York society, after the manner
of men's clubs. The women built a magnificent clubhouse on Madison
Avenue, furnished it with every luxury, including a wonderful
roof-garden. For a time the Colony Club appeared to be nothing more
than a beautiful toy which its members played with. But soon it began to
develop into a sort of a woman's forum, where all sorts of social topics
were discussed. Visiting women of distinction, artists, writers,
lecturers, were entertained there.

Last year the club inaugurated a Wednesday afternoon course in
industrial economics. The women did not invite lecturers from Columbia
University to address them. They asked John Mitchell and many lesser
lights of the labor world. They wanted to learn, at first hand, the
facts concerning conditions of industry. Most of them are stockholders
in mills, factories, mines, or business establishments. Many own real
estate on which factories stand.

"It is not fair," they have openly declared, "that we should enjoy
wealth and luxury at the cost of illness, suffering, and death. We do
not want wealth on such terms."

The Colony Club members, and the women who form the Auxiliary to the
National Civic Federation, have for their object improvement in the
working and living conditions of wage earners in industries and in
governmental institutions. A few conscientious employers have spent a
part of their profits to make their employees comfortable. They have
given them the best sanitary conditions, good air, strong light, and
comfortable seats. They have provided rest rooms, lunch rooms, vacation
houses, and the like.

No one should belittle such efforts on the part of employers. Equally,
no one should regard them as a solution of the industrial problem. Nor
should they be used as a substitute for justice.

Too often this so-called welfare work has been clumsily managed,
untactfully administered. Too often it has been instituted, not to
benefit the workers, but to advertise the business. Too often its real
object was a desire to play the philanthropist's role, to exact
obsequience from the wage earner.

[Illustration: MRS. J. BORDEN HARRIMAN President of the Colony Club, New
York, the most exclusive Women's Club in the country]

I know a corset factory which makes a feature in its advertising of the
perfect sanitary condition of its works; when visitors are expected, the
girls are required to stop work and clean the rooms. Since they work on
a piece-work scale, the "perfect sanitary conditions" exist at their
expense. In a department store I know, employees are required to sign a
printed expression of gratitude for overtime pay or an extra holiday.
This kind of welfare work simply alienates employees from their
employers. It always fails.

It seems to the women who have studied these things that proper
sanitary conditions, lunch rooms, comfortable seats, provision for
rest, vacations with pay, and the like are no more than the wage
earner's due. They are a part of the laborer's hire, and should be
guaranteed by law, exactly as wages are guaranteed. An employer deserves
gratitude for overtime pay no more than for fire escapes.

Testimony gathered from all sources by the Consumers' League, women's
clubs, and women's labor organizations has proved beyond doubt that good
working conditions, reasonable hours of work, and living wages vastly
increase the efficiency of the workers, and thus increase the profits of
the employers.

The New York Telephone Company does not set itself up to be a
benevolent institution. Its directors know that its profits depend on
the excellence of its service. There is one exchange in the Borough of
Brooklyn which handles a large part of the Long Island traffic. This
traffic is very heavy in summer on account of the number of summer
resorts along the coast. In the fall and winter the traffic is very
light. Six months in the year the operators at this exchange work only
half the day, yet the company keeps them on full salary the year round.
"We cannot afford to do anything else," explains the traffic manager.
"We cannot afford operators who would be content with half wages."


The old-time dry-goods merchant sincerely believed that his business
would suffer if he provided seats for his saleswomen. He believed that
he would go into bankruptcy if he allowed his women clerks human
working conditions. Then came the Consumers' League and mercantile laws,
and a new pressure of public opinion, and the dry-goods merchant found
out that a clerk in good physical condition sells more goods than one
that is exhausted and uncomfortable.

The fact is that welfare work, carefully shorn of its name, has proved
itself to be such good business policy that in future all intelligent
employers will advocate it; public opinion will demand it; laws will
provide for it.

It used to be the invariable custom in stores--it is so still in a
few--to lay off many clerks during the dull seasons. Now the best stores
find that they can better afford to give all their employees vacations
with pay. A clerk coming home after a vacation can sell goods, even in
dull times. More and more employers are coming to appreciate the money
value of the Saturday half-holiday in summer. Hearn, in New York, closes
his department store all day Saturday during July and August. The store
sells more goods in five days than it previously sold in six.

department store which has demonstrated that it is profitable to pay
higher wages than its competitors, and that it pays to allow the
employees to fix the terms of their own employment. This is the Filene
store in Boston, which has developed within the past ten years from a
conservative, old-fashioned dry-goods business into an extremely
original and interesting experiment station in commercial economics.

The entire policy of the Filene management is bent on developing to the
highest possible point the efficiency of each individual clerk. The best
possible material is sought. No girl under sixteen is employed, and no
girl of any age who has not graduated with credit from the grammar
schools. There are a number of college-bred men and women in the Filene


Good wages are paid, even to beginners, and experienced employees are
rewarded, not according to a fixed rate of payment, but according to
earning capacity. Taken throughout the store, wages, plus commissions,
which are allowed in all departments, average about two dollars a week
higher than in other department stores in Boston.

No irresponsible, automatic employee can develop high efficiency. She
does not want to become efficient; she wants merely to receive a pay
envelope at the end of the week. In order to develop responsibility and
initiative in their employees the Filenes have put them on a
self-governing basis. The workers do not literally make their own rules,
but the vote of the majority can change any rule made by the firm. The
firm furnishes its employees with a printed book of rules, in which the
policy of the store is set forth. If the employees object to any of the
rules, or any part of the policy, they can vote a change.

The medium through which the clerks express their opinions and desires
is the Filene Co-operative Association, of which every clerk and every
employee in the place is a member. No dues are exacted, as is the custom
in the usual employees' association. The executive body, called the
Store Council, and all other officers are elected by the members. All
matters of grievance, all subjects of controversy, are referred to the
Store Council, which, as often as occasion demands, calls a meeting of
the entire association after business hours.

For example: Christmas happens on a Friday. The firm decides to keep the
store open on the following day--Saturday. There is an expression of
dissatisfaction from a number of clerks. A meeting of the association is
called, and a vote taken as to whether the majority want the extra
holiday or not; whether the majority are willing to lose the
commissions on a day's sales, for, of course, salaries continue. The
vote reveals that the majority want the holiday. The Store Council so
reports to the firm, and the firm must grant the holiday.

All matters of difficulty arising between employers and employed, in the
Filene store, are settled not by the firm, but by the Arbitration Board
of Employees, also elected by popular vote. All disagreements as to
wages, position, promotion, all questions of personal issue between
saleswomen and aislemen, or others in authority, are referred to the
Board of Arbitration, and the board's decision is final. There is no
tyranny of the buyer, no arbitrary authority of the head of a
department. Every clerk knows that her tenure is secure as long as she
is an efficient saleswoman.

Surely it is not too much to hope that, in a future not too far
distant, all women who earn their bread will serve a system of industry
adjusted by law to human standards. In enlightened America the courts,
presided over by men to whom manual labor is known only in theory, have
persistently ruled that the _Constitution forbade the State to make laws
protecting women workers_. It has seemed to most of our courts and most
of our judges that the State fulfilled its whole duty to its women
citizens when it guaranteed them the right freely to contract--even
though they consented, or their poverty consented, to contracts which
involved irreparable harm to themselves, the community, and future
generations. The women of this country have done nothing more important
than to educate the judiciary of the United States out of and beyond
this terrible delusion.



The decision of the United States Supreme Court, establishing the
legality of restricted hours of labor for Oregon working women, was
received with especial satisfaction in the State of Illinois. The
Illinois working women, or that thriving minority of them organized in
labor unions, had been waiting sixteen years for a favorable opportunity
to get an eight-hour day for themselves. Sixteen years ago the Illinois
State Legislature gave the working women such a law, and two years later
the Illinois Supreme Court took it away from them, on the ground that it
was unconstitutional.

The action of the Illinois Supreme Court was by no means without
precedent. Many similar decisions had been handed down in other States,
until it had become almost a principle of American law that protective
legislation for working women was invalid.

The process of reasoning by which learned judges reach the conclusion
that an eight-hour day for men may be decreed without depriving anybody
of his constitutional rights, and at the same time rule that women would
be outrageously wronged by having their working hours limited, may
appear obscure.

The explanation is, after all, simple. The learned judges are men, and
they know something--not much, but still something--about the men of the
working classes. They know, for example, something about the conditions
under which coal miners work, and they can see that it is contrary to
public interests that men should toil underground, at arduous labor,
twelve hours a day. Accidents result with painful frequency, and these
are bad things,--bad for miners and mine owners alike. They are bad for
the whole community. Therefore the regulation of miners' hours of labor
comes legitimately under the police powers of the law.

The learned judges, I say this with all due respect, do not know
anything about working women. Their own words prove it. The texts of
their decisions, denying the constitutionality of protective measures,
are amazing in the ignorance they display,--ignorance of industrial
conditions surrounding women; ignorance of the physical effects of
certain kinds of labor on young girls; ignorance of the effect of
women's arduous toil on the birth rate; ignorance of moral conditions in
trades which involve night work; ignorance of the injury to the home
resulting from the sweated labor of tenement women. In brief, the
learned judges, when they write opinions involving the health, the
happiness, the very lives of women workers, might be writing about the
inhabitants of another planet, so little knowledge do they display of
the real facts.

We have seen how the women of the Consumers' League taught the United
States Supreme Court something about working women; showed them a few of
the calamities resulting from the unrestricted labor of women and
immature girls. The Supreme Court's decision forever abolished the old
fallacy that the American Constitution _forbids_ protective legislation
for women workers. It remains for women's organizations in the various
States to educate local courts up to the knowledge that community
interest _demands_ protective legislation.

Following the decision of the Supreme Court in the Oregon case, which
flatly contradicted the decision of the Illinois Supreme Court, the
working women of Illinois began their educational campaign. They had
now, for the first time, a fighting chance to secure the restoration of
their shortened work day. The women of fifteen organized trades in the
city of Chicago determined to take that chance.

The women first appealed to the Industrial Commission, appointed early
in 1908 by Governor Dineen, to investigate the need of protective
legislation for workers, men and women alike.

The women were given a courteous hearing, but were told frankly that
limited hours of work for women was not one of protective measures to be
recommended by the Commission.

The Waitresses' Union, Local No. 484, of Chicago, entered the lists, led
by a remarkable young woman, Elizabeth Maloney, financial secretary of
the union. Miss Maloney and her associates drafted and introduced into
the Illinois Legislature a bill providing an eight-hour working day for
every woman in the State, working in shop, factory, retail store,
laundry, hotel, or restaurant, and providing also ample machinery for
enforcing the measure.

The "Girls' Bill," as it immediately became known, was the most hotly
contested measure passed by the Illinois Legislature during the
session. Over five hundred manufacturers appeared at the public hearing
on the bill to protest against it. One man brought a number of meek and
tired women employees, who, he declared, were opposed to having their
working day made shorter. Another presented a petition signed by his
women employees, appealing against being prevented from working eleven
hours a day!

Nine working girls appeared in support of the bill, and after learned
counsel for the Manufacturers' Association had argued against the
measure, two of the girls were allowed to speak. The Manufacturers'
Association presented the business aspect of the question, the girls
confined themselves to the human side. Agnes Nestor, secretary of the
Glove Makers' Union of the United States and Canada, was one of the two
girls who spoke. Miss Nestor, whose eyes are blue, whose manners are
gentle, and whose best weight is ninety-five pounds, had to stand on a
chair that the law makers might see her when she made her plea:
Elizabeth Maloney, of the Waitresses' Union, was the other speaker.

They described details in the daily lives of working women not generally
known except to the workers themselves. Among these was the piece-work
system, which too often means a system whereby the utmost possible speed
is extorted from the toiler, in order that she may earn a living wage.
The legislators were asked to imagine themselves operating a machine
whose speed was gauged up to nine thousand stitches a minute; to
consider how many stitches the operator's hand must guide in a week, a
month, a year, in order to earn a living; working thus eleven, twelve
hours a day, knowing that the end was nervous breakdown, and decrease
of earning power.

"I am a waitress," said Miss Maloney, "and I work ten hours a day. In
that time a waitress who is tolerably busy _walks_ ten miles, and the
dishes she carries back and forth aggregate in weight fifteen hundred to
two thousand pounds. Don't you think eight hours a day is enough for a
girl to walk?"

Only one thing stood in the way of the passage of the bill after that
day. The doubt of its constitutionality proved an obstacle too grave
for the friends of the workers to overcome. It was decided to
substitute a ten-hour bill, an exact duplicate of the "Oregon Standard"
established by the Supreme Court of the United States. The principle of
limitation upon the hours of women's work once established in Illinois,
the workers could proceed with their fight for an eight-hour day.

The manufacturers lost their fight, and the ten-hour bill became a law
of the State of Illinois. The Manufacturers' Association, through the
W.C. Ritchie Paper Box Manufactory, of Chicago, immediately brought suit
to test the constitutionality of the law. Two Ritchie employees, Anna
Kusserow and Dora Windeguth, made appeal to the Illinois courts. Their
appeal declared that they could not make enough paper boxes in ten hours
to earn their bread, and that their constitutional rights freely to
contract, as well as their human rights, had been taken away from them
by the ten-hour law.

There was a terrible confession, on the part of the employers, involved
in this protest against the ten-hour day, a confession of the wretched
state of women's wages in the State of Illinois. If women of mature
years--one of the petitioners had been an expert box maker for over
thirty years--are unable, in a day of ten hours, to earn enough to keep
body and soul together, is it not proved that women workers are in no
position freely to contract? For who, of her own free will, would
contract to work ten hours a day for less than the price of life?

There was sitting in the Circuit Court of Illinois at that time Judge
R.S. Tuthill. When Judge Tuthill, in old age, reviews the events of his
career, I think he will not remember with pride that he was blind to the
real meaning of that petition of Anna Kusserow and Dora Windeguth. For
Judge Tuthill issued an injunction against the State Factory Department,
forbidding them to enforce the ten-hour law.

Immediately a number of women's organizations joined hands with the
women's trade unions in the fight to save the bill. When it came up in
the December term of the Illinois Supreme Court, Louis D. Brandeis of
Boston, the same able jurist who had argued the Oregon case, was on
hand. This time his brief was a book of six hundred and ten printed
pages, over which Miss Pauline Goldmark, of the National Consumers'
League, and a large corps of trained investigators and students had
toiled for many months. The World's Experience Against the Illinois
Circuit Court, this document might well have been called. It was simply
a digest of the evidence of governmental commissions, laboratories, and
bodies of scientific research, on the effects of overwork, and
especially of overtime work, on girls and women, and through them on
the succeeding generation. Incidentally the brief contained three
pages of law.

The most striking part of the argument contained in the brief was the
testimony of physicians on the toxin of fatigue.

"Medical Science has demonstrated," says this most important paragraph,
"that while fatigue is a normal phenomenon ... excessive fatigue or
exhaustion is abnormal.... It has discovered that fatigue is due not
only to actual poisoning, but to a specific poison or toxin of fatigue,
entirely analogous in chemical and physical nature to other bacterial
toxins, such as the diphtheria toxin. It has been shown that when
artificially injected into animals in large amounts the fatigue toxin
causes death. The fatigue toxin in normal quantities is said to be
counteracted by an antidote or antitoxin, also generated in the body.
But as soon as fatigue becomes abnormal the antitoxin is not produced
fast enough to counteract the poison of the toxin."

The Supreme Court of the State of Illinois decided that the American
Constitution was never intended to shield manufacturers in their
willingness to poison women under pretense of giving them work. The
ten-hour law was sustained.

That the "Girls' Bill" passed, or that it was even introduced, was due
in large measure to an organization of women, more militant and more
democratic than any other in the United States. This is the Women's
Trade Union League. Formed in New York about seven years ago, the
League consists of women members of labor unions, a few men in organized
trades, and many women outside the ranks of wage earners. Some of these
latter are women of wealth, who are believers in the trade-union
principle, but more are women who work in the professional
ranks,--teachers, lawyers, physicians, writers, artists, settlement
workers. These are the first professional workers, men or women, who
ever asked for and were given affiliation with the American Federation
of Labor. They are the first people, outside the ranks of wage earners,
to appear in Labor Day parades.

The object of the League, which now has branches in five cities,--New
York, Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and Cleveland,--is to educate women
wage earners in the doctrine of trade unionism. The League trains and
supports organizers among all classes of workers. As quickly as a group
in any trade seems ready for organizing the League helps them. It
raises funds to assist women in their trade struggles. It acts as
arbitrator between employer and wage earners in case of shop disputes.

The Women's Tracle Union League reaches not only women in factory
trades, but it has succeeded in organizing women who until lately
believed themselves to be a grade above this social level. One hundred
and fifty dressmakers in New York City belong to a union. Seventy
stenographers have organized in the same city. The Teachers' Federation
of Chicago is a labor union, and although it was formed before the
Women's Trade Union League came into existence, it is now affiliated.
The women telegraphers all over the United States are well organized.

The businesslike, resourceful, and fearless policy of the League was
brilliantly demonstrated during the famous strike of the shirt-waist
makers in New York and Philadelphia in the winter of 1910. The story of
this strike will bear retelling.

On the evening of November 22, 1909, there was a great mass meeting of
workers held at Cooper Union in New York. Samuel Gompers, President of
the American Federation of Labor, presided, and the stage was well
filled with members of the Women's Trade Union League. The meeting had
been called by the League in conjunction with Shirt-Waist Makers' Union,
Local 25, to consider the grievances of shirt-waist makers in general,
and especially of the shirt-waist makers in the Triangle factory, who
had been, for more than two months, on strike.

The story of the strike, the causes that led up to it, and the bitter
injustice which followed it were rehearsed in a dozen speeches. It was
shown that for four to five dollars a week the girl shirt-waist makers
worked from eight in the morning until half-past five in the evening
two days in the week; from eight in the morning until nine at night
four days in the week; and from eight in the morning until noon one day
in the week--Sunday.

The shirt-waist makers in the Triangle factory, in hope of bettering
their conditions, had formed a union, and had informed their employers
of their action. The employers promptly locked them out of the shop, and
the girls declared a strike.

The strike was more than two months old when the Cooper Union meeting
was held, and the employers showed no signs of giving in. It was agreed
that a general strike of shirt-waist makers ought to be declared. But
the union was weak, there were no funds, and most of the shirt-waist
makers were women and unused to the idea of solidarity in action. Could
they stand together in an industrial struggle which promised to be long
and bitter?

President Gompers was plainly fearful that they could not.

Suddenly a very small, very young, very intense Jewish girl, known to
her associates as Clara Lemlich, sprang to her feet, and, with the
assistance of two young men, climbed to the high platform. Flinging up
her arms with a dramatic gesture she poured out a flood of speech,
entirely unintelligible to the presiding Gompers, and to the members of
the Women's Trade Union League. The Yiddish-speaking majority in the
audience understood, however, and the others quickly caught the spirit
of her impassioned plea.

The vast audience rose as one man, and a great roar arose. "Yes, we
will all strike!"

"And will you keep the faith?" cried the girl on the platform. "Will you
swear by the old Jewish oath of our fathers?"

Two thousand Jewish hands were thrust in air, and two thousand Jewish
throats uttered the oath: "If I turn traitor to the cause I now pledge,
may this hand wither and drop off from this arm I now raise."

Clara Lemlich's part in the work was accomplished. Within a few days
forty thousand shirt-waist makers were on strike.

The Women's Trade Union League, under the direction of Miss Helen Marot,
secretary, at once took hold of the strike.

There were two things to be done at once. The forty thousand had to be
enrolled in the union, and those manufacturers who were willing to
accept the terms of the strikers had to be "signed up." Clinton Hall,
one of the largest buildings on the lower East Side, was secured, and
for several weeks the rooms and hallways of the building and the street
outside were crowded almost to the limit of safety with men and women
strikers, anxious and perspiring "bosses," and busy, active associates
of the Women's Trade Union League.

The immediate business needs of the organization being satisfied the
League members undertook the work of picketing the shops. Picketing, if
this activity has not been revealed to you, consists in patrolling the
neighborhood of the factories during the hours when the strike breakers
are going to and from their nefarious business, and importuning them to
join the strike.

Peaceful picketing is legal. The law permits a striker to speak to the
girl who has taken her place, permits her to present her cause in her
most persuasive fashion, but if she lays her hand, ever so gently on the
other's arm or shoulder, this constitutes technical violence.

Up to the time when the League began picketing there had been a little
of this technical, and possibly an occasional act of real, violence.
After the League took a hand there was none. Each group of union girls
who went forth to picket was accompanied by one or more League members.
Some of these amateur pickets were girls fresh from college, and among
these were Elsie Cole, the brilliant daughter of Albany's Superintendent
of Schools, Inez Milholland, the beautiful and cherished daughter of a
millionaire father, leader of her class, of 1909, in Vassar College,
Elizabeth Dutcher and Violet Pike, both prominent in the Association of
Collegiate Alumnae. These young women went out day after day with girl
strikers, endured the insults and threats of the police, suffered arrest
on more than one occasion, and faced the scorn and indignation of
magistrates who--well, who did not understand.

The strike received an immense amount of publicity, and organizations of
women other than the Women's Trade Union League began to take an
interest in it. They sent for Miss Marot, Miss Cole, Miss Gertrude
Barnum, and other women known to be familiar with the industrial world
of women, and begged for enlightenment on the subject of the strike.
They particularly asked to hear the story from the striking women in

The exclusive Colony Club, to which only women of the highest social
eminence are eligible, was called together by Miss Anne Morgan and
several others, including Mrs. Egerton Winthrop, wife of the president
of the New York Board of Education, to hear the story from the strikers'
own lips. The Colony Club was swept into the shirt-waist strike. More
than thirteen hundred dollars was collected in a few minutes. A dozen
women promised influence and personal service in behalf of the strikers.

A week later Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont, mother of the Duchess of Marlborough,
leader of a large Woman Suffrage Association, engaged the Hippodrome,
and packed it to the roof with ten thousand interested spectators.
Something like five thousand dollars was donated by this meeting.

At the beginning of the strike fully five hundred waist houses were
involved. Many of these settled within a few days on the basis of
increased pay, a fifty-two-hour working week, and recognition of the
union. Others settled later, and under the influence of the "uptown
scum," as the employers' association gallantly termed the Women's Trade
Union League, the Colony Club, and the Suffragists, still others
reluctantly gave in. Late in January all except about one hundred out of
the five hundred had settled with the union, and only about three
thousand of the workers were still out of work.

Women have been called the scabs of the labor world. That they would
ever become trade unionists, ever evolve the class consciousness of the
intelligent proletarian men, was deemed an impossible dream. Above all,
that their progress towards industrial emancipation would ever be helped
along by the wives and daughters of the employing classes was
unthinkable. That the releasing of one class of women from household
labor by sending another class of women into the factory, there to
perform their historic tasks of cooking, sewing, and laundry work, was
to result in the humanizing of industry, no mind ever prophesied.

Yet these things are coming. The scabs of the labor world are becoming
the co-workers instead of the competitors of men. The women of the
leisure classes, almost as fast as their eyes are opened to the
situation, espouse the cause of their working sisters. The woman in the
factory is preparing to make over that factory or to close it.

The history of a recent strike, in a carpet mill in Roxbury,
Massachusetts, is a perfect history, in miniature, of the progress of
the working women.

That particular mill is very old and very well known. When it was
established, more than a generation ago, the owner was a man who knew
every one of his employees by name, was especially considerate of the
women operatives, and was loved and respected by every one. Hours of
labor were long, but the work was done in a leisurely fashion, and wages
were good enough to compensate for the long day's labor.

The original owner died, and in time the new firm changed to a
corporation. The manager knew only his office force and possibly a few
floor superintendents and foremen. The rest of the force were "hands."

The whole state of the industry was altered. New and complicated
machinery was introduced. The shortened work day was a hundred times
more fatiguing to the workers because of the increased speed and
nerve-racking noise and jar of the machinery. Other grievances
developed. The quality of the yarn furnished the weavers was often so
bad that they spent hours of unpaid labor mending a broken warp or
manipulating a rotten shuttle full of yarn. Wages, fixed according to
the piece system, declined, it is said, at least one-fourth. Women who
had formerly earned thirteen dollars a week were reduced to seven and
eight dollars.

The women formed a union and struck. Some of them had been in the mills
as long as forty years, but they walked out with the girls.

There you have the story of women's realization of themselves as a
group. Next you encounter the realization of the sisterhood of women.
The Boston Branch of the Women's Trade Union League, through its
secretary, Mabel Gillespie, Radcliffe graduate, joined the strikers.
Backed up by the Boston Central Labor Union, and the United Textile
Workers of Fall River, the strikers fought their fight during ten weeks
of anxiety and deprivation.

The employers were firm in their determination to go out of business
before treating with the strikers as a group. A hand, mind you, exists
as an individual, a very humble individual, but one to be received and
conferred with. Hands, considered collectively, have no just right to
exist. An employers' association is a necessity of business life. A
labor union is an insult to capital.

This was the situation at the end of ten weeks. One day a motor car
stopped in front of the offices of the mills and a lady emerged. Mrs.
Glendower Evans, conservative, cultured, one might say Back Bay
personified, had come to Roxbury to see the carpet manufacturer. Her
powers of persuasion, plus her social position and her commercial
connections, were sufficient to wring consent from the firm to receive
John Golden, president of the United Textile Workers.

John Golden, intelligent, honest, a fine type of workingman, educated
in the English school of unionism, held two conferences with the firm.
He was able to make the employers see the whole situation in an entirely
new light. They were men of probity; they wanted to be fair; and when
they saw the human side of the struggle they surrendered. When they
perceived the justice of the collective bargain, the advantages to both
sides of a labor organization honestly conducted, they consented to
recognize the union. And the women went back, their group unbroken.

Thus are women working, women of all classes, to humanize the factory.
From the outside they are working to educate the legislatures and the
judiciary. They are lending moral and financial support to the women of
the toiling masses in their struggle to make over the factory from the
inside. Together they are impressing the men of the working world, law
makers and judges, with the justice of protecting the mothers of the

Now that the greatest stumbling block to industrial protective
legislation has been removed, we may hope to see a change in legal
decisions handed down in our courts. The educational process is not
yet complete. Not every judge possesses the prophetic mind of the
late Justice Brewer, who wrote the decision in the Oregon Case. Not
every court has learned that healthy men and women are infinitely more
valuable to a nation than mere property. But in time they will learn.

In distant New Zealand, not long ago, there was a match factory in which
a number of women worked for low wages. After fruitless appeals to the
owner for better wages the workers resorted to force. They did not
strike. In New Zealand you do not have to strike, because in that
country a substitute for the strike is provided by law. To this
substitute, a Court of Arbitration, the women took their grievance. The
employer in his answer declared, just as employers in this country might
have done, that his business would not stand an increase in wages. He
explained that the match industry was newly established in New Zealand,
and that, until it was on a secure basis, factory owners could not
afford to pay high wages.

The judge ordered an inquiry. In this country it would have been an
inquiry into the state of the match industry. There it was an inquiry
into the cost of living in the town where the match factory was located.
And then the judge summoned the factory owner to the Court of
Arbitration, and this is what he said to the man:

"It is impossible for these girls to live decently or healthfully on the
wages you are now paying. It is of the utmost importance that they
should have wholesome and healthful conditions of life. The souls and
bodies of the young women of New Zealand are of more importance than
your profits, and if you cannot pay living wages it will be better for
the community for you to close your factory. _It would be better to
send the whole match industry to the bottom of the ocean, and go back to
flints and firesticks, than to drive young girls into the gutter._ My
award is that you pay what they ask."

Does that sound like justice to you? It does to me; it does to the eight
million women in the world who have learned to think in human terms.



At the threshold of that quarter of old New York called Greenwich
Village stands Jefferson Market Court. Almost concealed behind the
towering structure of the Sixth Avenue Elevated, the building by day is
rather inconspicuous. But when night falls, swallowing up the
neighborhood of tangled streets and obscure alleyways, Jefferson Market
assumes prominence. High up in the square brick tower an illuminated
clock seems perpetually to be hurrying its pointing hands toward
midnight. From many windows, barred for the most part, streams an
intense white light. Above an iron-guarded door at the side of the
building floats a great globe of light, and beneath its glare, through
the iron-guarded door, there passes, every week-day night in the year, a
long procession of prodigals.

The guarded door seldom admits any one as important, so to speak, as a
criminal. The criminal's case waits for day. The Night Court in
Jefferson Market sits in judgment only on the small fry caught in the
dragnet of the police. Tramps, vagrants, drunkards, brawlers, disturbers
of the peace, speeding chauffeurs, licenseless peddlers, youths caught
red-handed shooting craps or playing ball in the streets,--these are the
men with whom the Night Court deals. But it is not the men we have come
to see.

[Illustration: MISS MAUDE E. MINER]

The women of the Night Court. Prodigal daughters! Between December,
1908, and December, 1909, no less than five thousand of them passed
through the guarded door, under the blaze of the electric lights. There
is never an hour, from nine at night until three in the morning, when
the prisoners' bench in Jefferson Market Court is without its full quota
of women. Old--prematurely old, and young--pitifully young; white and
brown; fair and faded; sad and cynical; starved and prosper ous;
rag-draped and satin-bedecked; together they wait their turn at

Quietly moving back and forth before the prisoners' bench you see a
woman, tall, graceful, black-gowned. She is the salaried probation
officer, modern substitute for the old-time volunteer mission worker.
The probation officer's serious blue eyes burn with no missionary zeal.
There is no spark of sentimental pity in the keen gaze she turns on each
new arrival.

When the bench is full of women the judge turns to her to inquire:
"Anybody there you want, Miss Miner?"

Miss Miner usually shakes her head. She diagnoses her cases like a
physician, and she wastes no time on incurables.

Once in a while, perhaps several times in the course of a night, Miss
Miner touches a girl on the arm. At once the girl rises and follows the
probation officer into an adjoining room. If she is what she appears,
young in evil, if she has a story which rings true, a story of poverty
and misfortune, rather than of depravity, she goes not back to the
prisoners' bench. When her turn at judgment comes Miss Miner stands
beside her, and in a low voice meant only for the judge, she tells the
facts. The girl weeps as she listens. To hear one's troubles told is
sometimes more terrible than to endure them.

Court adjourns at three in the morning, and this girl, with the
others--if others have been claimed by the probation officer--goes out
into the empty street, under the light of the tall tower, whose clock
has begun all over again its monotonous race toward midnight. No
policeman accompanies the group. The girls are under no manner of
duress. They have promised to go home with Miss Miner, and they go. The
night's adventure, entered into with dread, with callous indifference,
or with thoughtless mirth, ends in a quiet bedroom and a pillow wet with


Waverley House, as Miss Miner's home is known, has sheltered, during the
past year, over three hundred girls. Out of that number one hundred and
nineteen have returned to their homes, or are earning a living at useful

One hundred and nineteen saved out of five thousand prodigals! In point
of numbers this is a melancholy showing, but in comparison with other
efforts at rescue work it is decidedly encouraging.

Nothing quite like Waverley House has appeared in other American cities,
but it is a type of detention home for girls which is developing
logically out of the probation system. Delinquent girls under sixteen
are now considered, in all enlightened communities, subjects for the
Juvenile Court. They are hardly ever associated with older delinquents.
But a girl over sixteen is likely to be committed to prison, and may be
locked in cells with criminal and abandoned women of the lowest order.
Waverley House is the first practical protest against this stupid and
evil-encouraging policy.

The house, which stands a few blocks distant from the Night Court, was
established and is maintained by the Probation Association of New York,
consisting of the probation officers in many of the city courts, and of
men and women interested in philanthropy and social reform. The District
Attorney of New York County, Charles S. Whitman, is president of the
Association, Maude E. Miner is its secretary, Mrs. Russell Sage, Miss
Anne Morgan, Miss Mary Dreier, president of the New York Women's Trade
Union League, Mrs. Richard Aldrich, formerly president of the Women's
Municipal League, Andrew Carnegie, Edward T. Devine, head of New York's
organized charities, Homer Folks, and Fulton Cutting are among the
supporters of Waverley House. Miss Stella Miner is the capable and
sympathetic superintendent of the house.

The place is in no sense a reformatory. It is an experiment station, a
laboratory where the gravest and most baffling of all the diseases which
beset society is being studied. Girls arrested for moral delinquency and
paroled to probation officers are taken to Waverley House, where they
remain, under closest study and searching inquiry, until the best means
of disposing of them is devised. Some are sent to their homes, some to
hospitals, some to institutions, some placed on long probation.

Maude E. Miner, who declined a chair of mathematics in a woman's college
to work in the Night Court, is one of an increasing number of women who
are attempting a great task. They are trying to solve a problem which
has baffled the minds of the wisest since civilization dawned. They have
set themselves to combat an evil fate which every year overtakes
countless thousands of young girls, dragging them down to misery,
disease, and death. At the magnitude of the effort these women have
undertaken one stands appalled. Will they ever reach the heart of the
problem? Can they ever hope to do more than reclaim a few individuals?
This much did the missionaries before them.

"We could reclaim fully seventy-five per cent," declares Miss Miner, "if
only we could find a way to begin nearer the beginning."

To begin the reform of any evil at the beginning, or near the beginning,
instead of near the end is now regarded as an economy of effort. That is
what educators are trying to do with juvenile delinquency; what
physicians are doing with disease; what philanthropists are beginning to
do with poverty.

Hardly any one has suggested that the social evil might have a cause,
and that it might be possible to attack it at its source. Yet that any
large number of girls enter upon such a horrible career, willingly,
voluntarily, is unbelievable to one who knows anything of the facts.
There must be strong forces at work on these girls, forces they find
themselves entirely powerless to resist.

Miss Miner and her fellow probation officers are the visible signs of a
very important movement among women to discover what these forces are.
Meager, indeed, are the facts at hand. We have had, and we still have,
in cities east and west, committees and societies and law and order
leagues earnestly engaged in "stamping out" the evil. It is like trying
to stamp out a fire constantly fed with inflammables and fanned by a
strong gale. The protests of most of these leagues amount to little
more than vain clamor against a thing which is not even distantly

The _personnel_ of these agencies organized to "stamp out" the evil
differs little in the various cities. It is largely if not wholly
masculine in character, and the evil is usually dealt with from the
point of view of religion and morals. Women, when they appear in the
matter at all, figure as missionaries, "prison angels," and the like. As
evangelists to sinners women have been permitted to associate with their
fallen sisters without losing caste. Likewise, when elderly enough, they
have been allowed to serve on governing boards of "homes" and
"refuges." Their activities were limited to rescue work. They might
extend a hand to a repentant Magdalene. A Phryne they must not even be
aware of. In other words, this evil as a subject of investigation and
intelligent discussion among women was absolutely prohibited. It has
ever been their Great Taboo.

Nevertheless, when eight million women, in practically every civilized
country in the world, organized themselves into an International Council
of Women, and began their remarkable survey of the social order in which
they live, one of their first acts was to break the Great Taboo.


At early congresses of the International Council Miss Sadie American,
Mrs. Kate Waller Barrett, Mrs. Elizabeth Grannis, among American
delegates, Miss Elizabeth Janes of England, Miss Elizabeth Gad of
Denmark, Dr. Agnes Bluhm of Germany, and others interested in the moral
welfare of girls, urged upon the Council action against the "White
Slave" traffic. No extensive argument was required to convince the
members of the Council that the "White Slave" traffic and the whole
subject of the moral degradation of women was a social phenomenon too
long neglected by women.

These women declared with refreshing candor that it was about time that
the social evil was dealt with intelligently, and if it was to be dealt
with intelligently women must do the work. The fussy old gentlemen with
white side whiskers and silk-stocking reformers and the other well
meaning amateurs, who are engaged in "stamping out" the evil, deserve to
be set aside. In their places the women propose to install social
experts who shall deal scientifically with the problem.

The double standard of morals, accepted in fact if not in principle, in
every community, and so rigidly applied that good women are actually
forbidden to have any knowledge of their fallen sisters, was for the
first time repudiated by a body of organized women. The arguments on
which the double standard of morals is based was, for the first time,
seriously scrutinized by women of intelligence and social importance.
The desirability of the descent of property in legal paternal line
seemed to these women a good enough reason for applying a rigid standard
of morals to women. But they found reasons infinitely greater why the
same rigid standard should be applied to men.

The International Council of Women and women's organizations in every
country number among their members and delegates women physicians, and
through these physicians they have been able to consider the social evil
from an altogether new point of view. Certain very ugly facts, which
touch the home and which intimately concern motherhood and the welfare
of children, were brought forth--facts concerning infantile blindness,
almost one-third of which is caused by excesses on the part of the
fathers; facts concerning certain forms of ill health in married women,
and the increase of sterility due to the spread of specific diseases
among men. The horrible results to innocent women and children of these
maladies, and their frightful prevalence,--seventy-five per cent of city
men, according to reliable authority, being affected,--aroused in the
women a sentiment of indignation and revolt. The International Council
of Women put itself on record as protesting against the responsibility
laid upon women, the unassisted task of preserving the purity of the

In the United States, women's clubs, women's societies, women's medical
associations, special committees of women in many cities have
courageously undertaken the study of this problem, intending by means of
investigation and publicity to lay bare its sources and seek its remedy.

The sources of the evil are about the only phase of the problem which
has never been adequately examined. It is true that we have suspected
that the unsteady and ill-adjusted economic position of women furnished
some explanation for its existence, but even now our information is
vague and unsatisfactory.

A number of years ago, in 1888 to be exact, the Massachusetts Bureau of
Labor Statistics made an interesting investigation. This was an effort
to determine how far the entrance of women into the industrial world,
usually under the disadvantage of low wages, was contributing to
profligacy. The bureau gathered statistics of the previous occupations
of nearly four thousand fallen women in twenty-eight American cities.

Of these unfortunates over eight hundred had worked in low-waged trades
such as paper-box making, millinery, laundry work, rope and cordage
making, cigar and cigarette making, candy packing, textile factory and
shoe factory work.

About five hundred women had been garment workers, dressmakers, and
seamstresses, but how far these were skilled or unskilled was not

The department store, at that time little more than a sweat shop so far
as wages and long hours of work were concerned, contributed one hundred
and sixteen recruits to the list.

On the whole, these groups were what the investigators had expected to

There were two other large groups of prodigals, and these were entirely
unexpected by the investigators. Of the 3,866 girls examined 1,236, or
nearly thirty-two per cent, reported no previous occupation. The next
largest group, 1,115, or nearly thirty per cent, had been domestic
servants. The largest group of all had gone straight from their homes
into lives of evil. A group nearly as large had gone directly from that
occupation which is constantly urged upon women as the safest and most
suitable means of earning their living--housework.

Now you may, if you want to drop the thing out of your mind as something
too disagreeable to think about, infer from this that at least sixty-two
per cent of those 3,866 women deserved their fate. Some of them were too
lazy to work, and the rest preferred a life of soiled luxury to one of
honest toil in somebody's nice kitchen. Apparently this was the view
taken by the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics, because it never
carried the investigation any farther. It never tried to find out _why_
so many girls left their homes to enter evil lives. It never tried to
find out _why_ housework was a trade dangerous to morals.

Fortunately it did occur to the women's organizations to examine the
facts a little more carefully. In this article I am going to take you
over some of the ground they have covered and show you where their
investigations have led them.

South Chicago is a fairly good place to begin. Its ugliness and
forlornness can be matched in the factory section of almost any large
city. South Chicago is dominated by its steel mills,--enormous drab
structures, whose every crevice leaks quivering heat and whose towering
chimneys belch forth unceasingly a pall of ashes and black smoke. The
steel workers and their families live as a rule in two and three family
houses, built of wood, generally unpainted, and always dismally
utilitarian as to architectural details.

In South Chicago, four years ago, there was not such a thing as a park,
or a playground, or a recreation center. One lone social settlement was
just seeking a home for itself. There were public schools, quite
imposing buildings. But these were closed and locked and shuttered for
the day as soon as the classes were dismissed.

In a certain neighborhood of South Chicago there lived a number of young
girls, healthy, high-spirited, and full of that joy of life which always
must be fed--if not with wholesome food, then husks. For parents these
girls had fathers who worked twelve hours a day in the steel mills and
came home at night half dead from lack of rest and sleep; and mothers
who toiled equally long hours in the kitchen or over the washtub and
were too weary to know or care what the girls did after school. For
social opportunity the girls had "going downtown." Perhaps you know
what that means. It means trooping up and down the main street in lively
groups, lingering near a saloon where a phonograph is bawling forth a
cheerful air, visiting a nickel theater, or looking on at a street
accident or a fight.

About this time the panic of 1907 descended suddenly on South Chicago
and turned out of the steel mills hundreds of boys and men. Some of
these were mere lads, sixteen to eighteen years old. They, too, went
"downtown." There was no other place for them to go.

As a plain matter of cause and effect, what kind of a moral situation
would you expect to evolve out of these materials?

Eventually a woman probation officer descended on the neighborhood. Many
of the girls whom she rescued from conditions not to be described in
these pages were so young that their cases were tried in the Juvenile
Court. Most of them went to rescue homes, reformatories, or hospitals.
Some slipped away permanently, in all human probability to join the
never-ceasing procession of prodigals.

This is what "no previous occupation" really means in nine cases out of
ten. It means that the girl lived in a home which was no home at all,
according to the ideals of you who read these pages.

Sometimes it was a cellar where the family slept on rags. Sometimes it
was an attic where ten or twelve people herded in a space not large
enough for four. Some of these homes were never warm in winter. In some
there was hardly any furniture. But we need not turn to these extreme
cases in order to show that in many thousands of American homes virtue
and innocence are lost because no facilities for preserving them are

Annie Donnelly's case will serve as further illustration. Annie
Donnelly's father was a sober, decent man of forty, who drove a cab from
twelve to fifteen hours every day in the year, Sundays and holidays
included. Before the cab drivers' strike, a year or two ago, Donnelly's
wages were fifteen dollars a week, and the family lived in a four-room
tenement, for which they paid $5.50 a week. You pay rent weekly to a
tenement landlord. Since the strike wages are fourteen dollars a week
for cab drivers, and this fall the Donnelly rent went up fifty cents a

The Donnelly tenement was a very desirable one, having but a single
dark, windowless room, instead of two or three, like most New York
tenements. There were three children younger than Annie, who was
fourteen. The family of five made a fairly tight fit in four rooms.
Nevertheless, when the rent went up to six dollars Mrs. Donnelly took a
lodger. She had to or move and, remember, this was a desirable tenement
because it had only one dark room.

One day the lodger asked Annie if she did not want to go to a dance.
Annie did want to, but she knew very well that her mother would not
allow her to go. Once a year the entire family, including the baby,
attended the annual ball of the Coachman's Union, but that was another
thing. Annie was too young for dances her mother declared.

The Donnellys paid for and occupied three rooms, but they really lived
in one room, the others being too filled with beds to be habitable
except at night. The kitchen, the one living-room, was uncomfortably
crowded at meal times. At no time was there any privacy. It was
impossible for Annie to receive her girl friends in her home. Every bit
of her social life had to be lived out of the house.

When the weather was warm she often stayed in the street, walking about
with the other girls or sitting on a friend's doorstep, until ten or
even eleven o'clock at night. Every one does the same in a crowded city
neighborhood. There comes a time in a girl's life when this sort of
thing becomes monotonous. The time came when Annie found sitting on the
doorstep and talking about nothing in particular entirely unbearable. So
one balmy, inviting spring night she slipped away and went with the
lodger to a dance.

The dance hall occupied a big, low-ceiled basement room in a building
which was a combination of saloon and tenement house. In one of the
front windows of the basement room was hung a gaudy placard: "The Johnny
Sullivan Social Club."

The lodger paid no admission, but he deposited ten cents for a hat
check, after which they went in. About thirty couples were swinging in a
waltz, their forms indistinctly seen through the clouds of dust which
followed them in broken swirls through air so thick that the electric
lights were dimmed. Somewhere in the obscurity a piano did its noisiest
best with a popular waltz tune.

In a few minutes Annie forgot her timidity, forgot the dust and the heat
and the odor of stale beer, and was conscious only that the music was
piercing, sweet, and that she was swinging in blissful time to it. When
the waltz tune came to an end at last the dancers stopped, gasping with
the heat, and swaying with the giddiness of the dance.

"Come along," said the lodger, "and have a beer." When Annie shook her
head he exclaimed: "Aw, yuh have to. The Sullivans gets the room rent
free, but the fellers upstairs has bar privileges, and yuh have to buy
a beer off of 'em oncet in a while. They've gotta get something out of

I do not know whether Annie yielded then or later. But ultimately she
learned to drink beer for the benefit of philanthropists who furnish
dance halls rent free, and also to quench a thirst rendered unbearable
by heat and dust. They seldom open the windows in these places.
Sometimes they even nail the windows down. A well-ventilated room means
poor business at the bar.

Annie Donnelly became a dance-hall _habitué_. Not because she was
viciously inclined; not because she was abnormal; but because she was
decidedly normal in all her instincts and desires.

Besides, it is easy to get the dance-hall habit. At almost every dance
invitations to other dances are distributed with a lavish hand. These
invitations, on cheap printed cards, are scattered broadcast over chairs
and benches, on the floors, and even on the bar itself. They are locally
known as "throw-aways." Here are a few specimens, from which you may
form an idea of the quality of dance halls, and the kind of
people--almost the only kind of people--who offer pleasure to the
starved hearts of girls like Annie Donnelly. These are actual
invitations picked up in an East Side dance hall by the head worker of
the New York College Settlement:

     "_Second annual reception and ball, given by Jibo and Jack, at New
     Starlight Hall, 143 Suffolk Street, December 25. Music by our
     favorite. Gents ticket 25 cents, Ladies 15 cents._"

     "_Don't miss the ball given by Joe the Greaser, and Sam Rosenstock,
     at Odd Fellows' Hall, January 29th._"

     "_See the Devil Dance at the Reception and Ball given by Max Pascal
     and Little Whity, at Tutonia Hall, Tuesday evening, November

     _ "Reception and Ball given by two well known friends, Max Turk and
     Sam Lande, better known as Mechuch, at Appollo Hall, Chrystmas
     night. Floor manager, Young Louis. Ticket admit one 25 cents._"

In addition to these private affairs which are arranged purely for the
profit of "Jibo and Jack" and their kind, men who make a living in this
and in yet more unspeakable ways, there are hundreds of saloon dance
halls, not only in New York, but in other cities. These are simply
annexes to drinking places, and people are not welcome there unless they
drink. No admission is charged.

There are also numberless dancing academies. Dancing lessons are given
four nights in the week, as a rule, and the dancing public buys
admission the other three nights and on Sunday afternoons. Some dancing
academies, even in tenement house quarters, are reputable institutions,
but to most of them the lowest of the low, both men and women, resort.
There, as in the dance halls, the "White Slaver" plies his trade, and
the destroyer of womanliness lays his nets.

Annie Donnelly soon learned the ways of all these places. She learned to
"spiel." You spiel by holding hands with your partner at arms' length,
and whirling round and round at the highest possible speed. The girl's
skirts are blown immodestly high, which is a detail. The effect of the
spiel is a species of drunkenness which creates an instant demand for
liquor, and a temporary recklessness of the possible results of strong

Annie also learned to dance what is known as the "half time," or the
"part time" waltz. This is a dance accompanied by a swaying and
contorting of the hips, most indecent in its suggestion. It is really a
very primitive form of the dance, and probably goes back to the pagan
harvest and bacchic festivals. You may see traces of it in certain crude
peasant dances in out-of-the-way corners of Europe. Now they teach it to
immigrant girls in New York dancing academies and dance halls, and tell
the girls that it is the _American_ fashion of waltzing.

Annie Donnelly's destruction was accomplished in less than a year. It
was the more rapid because of the really superior character of her home.
There was nothing the matter with that home except that it was too
crowded for the family to stay in it. Father and mother were
respectable, hard-working people, and after Annie's first real
misadventure, into which she fell almost unwittingly, she was afraid to
go home.

The dance hall, as we have permitted it to exist, practically
unregulated, has become a veritable forcing house of vice and crime in
every city in the United States. It is a straight chute down which,
every year, thousands of girls descend to the way of the prodigal. No
one has counted their number. All we know of the unclassed is that they
exist, apparently in ever-increasing masses.

It was estimated in Chicago, not long ago, that there were about six
thousand unfortunate women known to the police, and something like
twenty thousand who managed to avoid actual collision with the law. That
is, the latter lived quietly and plied their trade on the street so
unostentatiously that they were seldom arrested. How many of these
unfortunates reached the streets through the dance hall is impossible to
know--we only know that it constantly recruits the ranks of the

[Illustration: A DANCE HALL]

The dance hall may be in the rear of a saloon, or over a saloon; it may
occupy a vacant store building, or a large loft. Somewhere in its
immediate vicinity there is a saloon. A dance lasts about five minutes,
and the interval between dances is from ten to twenty minutes. Waiters
circle among the dancers, importuning them to drink. The dance hall
without a bar, or some source of liquid supply, does not often exist,
except as it has been established by social workers to offset the
influence of the commercial dance hall.

Some dance halls are small and wretchedly lighted. Others are large and
pretentious. Some of them have direct connections with Raines Law hotels
and their prototypes. Of hardly a single dance hall can a good word be
said. They are almost entirely in the hands of the element lowest in
society, in business, and in politics.

From the old-fashioned German family picnic park to Coney Island in New
York, Revere Beach in Boston, The White City in Chicago, Savin Rock in
New Haven, and their like, is a far cry.

Some of these summer parks try to keep their amusements clean and
decent, and some, notably Euclid Park, Cleveland, succeed. But drink and
often worse evils are characteristic of most of them. There are parts
of Coney Island where no beer is sold, where the vaudeville and the
moving pictures are clean and wholesome, where dancing is orderly. But
the nearest side street has its "tough joint." The same thing is true of
the big summer resorts of other cities.

The dance hall, both winter and summer types, have had a deteriorating
effect upon the old-fashioned dancing academy. Formerly these were
respectable establishments where people paid for dancing lessons. Now
they are a _mélange_ of dancing classes and public entertainments. The
dancing masters, unable to compete with the dance hall proprietors, have
been obliged to transfer many of the dance hall features to their

Oddly enough it is rather an unusual thing for a girl to be escorted to
a dance in any kind of a dance hall. The girls go alone, with a friend,
or with a group of girls. The exceptional girl, who is attended by a
man, must dance with him, or if she accepts another part ner, she must
ask his permission. An escort is deemed a somewhat doubtful advantage.
Those who go unattended are always sure of partners. Often they meet
"fellows" they know, or have seen on the streets. Introductions are not
necessary. Even if a girl is unacquainted with any "fellows," if she
possesses slight attractions, she is still sure of partners.

The amount of money spent by working girls for dance-hall admissions is
considerable. A girl receiving six or seven dollars a week in wages
thinks nothing of reserving from fifty cents to a dollar for dancing.

In going about among the dance halls one is struck with the number of
black-gowned girls. The black gown might almost be called the mark of
the dance-hall _habitué_, the girl who is dance mad and who spends all
her evenings going from one resort to another. She wears black because
light evening gowns soil too rapidly for a meager purse to renew.

An indispensable feature of the dancing academy is the "spieler." This
is a young man whose strongest recommendation is that he is a skilled
and untiring dancer. The business of the spieler is to look after the
wall-flowers. He seeks the girl who sits alone against the wall; he
dances with her and brings other partners to her. It would not do for a
place to get the reputation of slowness. The girls go back to those
dance halls where they have had the best time.

The spieler is not uncommonly a worthless fellow; sometimes he is a
sinister creature, who lives on the earnings of unfortunate girls. The
dance hall, and especially the dancing academy, because of the youth of
many of its patrons, is a rich harvest field for men of this type.

Beginning with the saloon dance hall, unquestionably the most brutally
evil type, and ending with the dancing academy, where some pretense of
chaperonage is made, the dance hall is a vicious institution. It is
vicious because it takes the most natural of all human instincts, the
desire of men and women to associate together, and distorts that
instinct into evil. The boy and girl of the tenement-dwelling classes,
especially where the foreign element is strong, do not share their
pleasures in the normal, healthy fashion of other young people. The
position of the women of this class is not very high. Men do not treat
her as an equal. They woo her for a wife. In the same manner the boy
does not play with the girl. The relations between young people very
readily degenerate. The dance hall, with its curse of drink, its lack of
chaperonage and of reasonable discipline, helps this along its downward

Sadie Greenbaum, as I will call her, was an exceptionally attractive
young Jewish girl of fifteen when I first knew her. Although not
remarkably bright in school she was industrious, and aspired to be a
stenographer. She was not destined to realize her ambition. As soon as
she finished grammar school she was served, so to speak, with her
working papers. The family needed additional income, not to meet actual
living expenses, for the Greenbaums were not acutely poor, but in order
that the only son of the family might go to college. Max was seventeen,
a selfish, overbearing prig of a boy, fully persuaded of his superiority
over his mother and sisters, and entirely willing that the family should
toil unceasingly for his advancement.

Sadie accepted the situation meekly, and sought work in a muslin
underwear factory. At eighteen she was earning seven dollars a week as a
skilled operator on a tucking machine. She sat down to her work every
morning at eight o'clock, and for four hours watched with straining eyes
a tucking foot which carried eight needles and gathered long strips of
muslin into eight fine tucks, at the rate of four thousand stitches a
minute. The needles, mere flickering flashes of white light above the
cloth, had to be watched incessantly lest a thread break and spoil the
continuity of a tuck. When you are on piece wages you do not relish
stopping the machine and doing over a yard or two of work.

So Sadie watched the needle assiduously, and ignored the fact that her
head ached pretty regularly, and she was generally too weary when lunch
time came to enjoy the black bread and pickles which, with a cup of
strong tea, made her noon meal. After lunch she again sat down to her
machine and watched the needles gallop over the cloth.

At the end of each year Sadie Greenbaum had produced for the good of the
community _four miles_ of tucked muslin. In return, the community had
rendered her back something less than three hundred dollars, for the
muslin underwear trade has its dull seasons, and you do not earn seven
dollars every week in the year.

Each week Sadie handed her pay envelope unopened to her mother. The
mother bought all Sadie's clothes and gave her food and shelter.
Consequently, Sadie's unceasing vigil of the needle paid for her
existence and purchased also the proud consciousness of an older brother
who would one day own a doctor's buggy and a social position.

The one joy of this girl's life, in fact all the real life she lived,
was dancing. Regularly every Saturday night Sadie and a girl friend,
Rosie by name, put on their best clothes and betook themselves to
Silver's Casino, a huge dance hall with small rooms adjoining, where
food and much drink were to be had.

There was a good floor at Silver's and a brass band to dance to. It was
great! The girls never lacked partners, and they made some very
agreeable acquaintances.

In the dressing room, between dances, all the girls exchanged
conversation, views on fashions, confidences about the young men and
other gossip. Some of the girls were nice and some, it must be admitted,
were "tough." What was the difference? The tough girls, with their
daring humor, their cigarettes, their easy manners, and their amazingly
smart clothes, furnished a sort of spice to the affair.

Sadie and Rosie sometimes discussed the tough girls, and the
conversation nearly always ended with one remarking: "Well, if they
don't get anything else out of livin', look at the clothes they put on
their backs."

Perhaps you can understand that longing for pretty gowns, perhaps you
can even sympathize with it. Of course, if you have a number of other
resources, you can keep the dress hunger in its proper place. But if you
have nothing in your existence but a machine--at which you toil for
others' benefit;

Sadie and Rosie continued to spend their Saturday evenings and their
Sunday evenings at Silver's Casino. At first they went home together
promptly at midnight. After midnight these casino dance halls change
their character. Often professional "pace makers" are introduced, men
and women of the lowest class, who are paid to inspire the other dancers
to lewd conduct. These wretched people are immodestly clothed, and they
perform immodest or very tough dances. They are usually known as
"Twisters," a descriptive title. When they make their appearance the
self-respecting dancers go home, and a much looser element comes in. The
pace becomes a rapid one. Manners are free, talk is coarse, laughter is
incessant. The bar does a lively business. The dancing and the revels go
on until daylight.

The first time Sadie and Rosie allowed themselves to be persuaded to
stay at Silver's after midnight they were rather horrified by the
abandoned character of the dancing, the reckless drinking, and the
fighting which resulted in several men being thrown out. The second time
they were not quite so horrified, but they decided not to stay so late
another time. Then came a great social event, the annual "mask and
shadow dance" of a local political organization. Sadie and Rosie

A "mask and shadow dance" is as important a function to girls of Sadie's
and Rosie's class as a cotillion is to girls of your class. Such affairs
are possible only in large dance halls, and to do them impressively
costs the proprietor some money. The guests rent costumes and masks and
appear in very gala fashion indeed. They dance in the rays of all kinds
of colored lights thrown upon them from upper galleries. During part of
a waltz the dancers are bathed in rose-colored lights, which change
suddenly to purple, a blue, or a green. Some very weird effects are
made, the lights being so manipulated that the dancers' shadows are
thrown, greatly magnified, on walls and floor. At intervals a rain of
bright-colored confetti pours down from above. The scene becomes
bacchanalian. Color, light, music, confetti, the dance, together
combine to produce an intense and voluptuous intoxication which the
revelers deepen with drink.

The events of the latter part of that night were very vague in Sadie's
memory when she awoke late the next morning. She remembered that she had
tolerated familiarities which had been foreign to her experience
heretofore, and that she had been led home by some friendly soul, at
daylight, almost helpless from liquor.

Frightened, haunted by half-ashamed memories of that dance, Sadie
spoiled a good bit of her work on Monday morning. The forewoman
descended on her with a torrent of coarse abuse, whereupon Sadie rose
suddenly from her machine, and in a burst of hysterical profanity and
tears rushed out of the factory, vowing never to return. There was only
one course, she decided, for her to take, and she took it.

"Sadie, why did you do it?" wailed Rosie the next time they met.

"It's better than the factory," said Sadie.

Tucking muslin underwear is dull work, but it is, in most ways, a more
agreeable task than icing cakes in a St. Louis biscuit factory. All day
Edna M---- stood over a tank filled with thick chocolate icing. The
table beside Edna's tank was kept constantly supplied with freshly baked
"lady-fingers," and these in delicate handfuls Edna seized and plunged
into the hot ooze of the chocolate. Her arms, up to the elbows, went
into the black stuff, over and over again all day. At noon, over their
lunch, the girls talked of their recreations, their clothes, their

Edna had not very much to contribute to the girls' stories of gayety and
adventure. She led a quieter existence than most of the other girls,
although her leanings were toward lively pleasures. She was engaged to a
young man who worked in a foundry and who was steady and perhaps rather
too serious. He was very jealous of Edna and exacted a stern degree of
fidelity of her.

Before her engagement Edna had gone to a decent dancing school and
dearly loved the dance. Now she was not permitted to dance with any one
but her prospective husband. The bright talk at the noon hour made Edna
feel that she was a very poor sport.

The young man's work in the foundry alternated weekly between day and
night duty. It occurred to Edna that her young man could not possibly
know what she did with those evenings he remained in the foundry. If she
chose to go with a group of girls to a dance hall, what harm? The long
years of married life stretched themselves out somewhat drably to Edna.
She decided to have a good time beforehand.

This girl from now on literally lived a double life. Evenings of the
weeks her young man was free from the foundry, she spent at home with
him, placidly playing cards, reading aloud, or talking. On the other
evenings she danced, madly, incessantly. Her mother thought she spent
the evenings with her girl friends. The dancing, plus the deceit, soon
had its effect on Edna. She began to visit livelier and livelier
resorts, curious to see all phases of pleasure.

Suspicion entered into the mind of her affianced. He questioned her;
she lied, and he was unconvinced. A night or two later the young man
stayed away from the foundry and followed Edna to a suburban resort. She
went, as usual, with a group of girls, but their men were waiting for
them near the door of the open-air dancing pavilion. Standing just
outside, the angry lover watched the girl "spiel" round and round with a
man of doubtful respectability. Soon she joined a noisy, beer-drinking
group at one of the tables, and her behavior grew more and more
reckless. Finally, amid laughter, she and another girl performed a
suggestive dance together.

Walking swiftly up to her, the outraged foundryman grasped her by the
shoulder, called her a name she did not yet deserve, and threw her
violently to the floor. A terrific fight followed, and the police soon
cleared the place.

Edna did not dare go home. An over-rigid standard of morals, an
over-repressive policy, an over-righteous judgment, plus a mother
ignorant of the facts of life, plus a girl's longing for joy--the sum of
these equaled ruin in Edna's case.



Annie, Sadie, Edna, thousands of girls like them, girls of whom almost
identical stories might be told, help to swell the long procession of
prodigals every succeeding year. They joined that procession ignorantly
because they thirsted for pleasure. Their days were without interest,
their minds were unfurnished with any resources. At fourteen most of
them left public school. Reading and writing are about as much
intellectual accomplishments as the school gives them, and the work
waiting for them in factory, mill, or department store is rarely of a
character to increase their intelligence.

Ask a girl, "Why do you go to the dance hall? Why don't you stay home
evenings?" Nine times in ten her answer will be: "What should I do with
myself, sitting home and twirling my fingers?"

If you suggest reading, she will reply: "You can't be reading all the
time." In other words, there is no intellectual impulse, but instead an
instinct for action.

The crowded tenement, the city slum, an oppressive system of ill-paid
labor, these are evils which a gradually developing social conscience
must one day eliminate. Their tenure will not be disturbed to-day,
to-morrow, or next day. Their evil influence can be offset, in some
measure, by a recognition on the part of the community of a debt,--a
debt to youth.

The joy of life, inherent in every young creature, including the young
human creature, seeks expression in play, in merriment, and will not be

The oldest, the most persistent, the most attractive, the most
satisfying expression of the joy of life is the dance. Other forms of
recreation come in for brief periods, but their vogue is always
transitory. The roller skating craze, for example, waxed, waned, and
disappeared. Moving pictures and the nickelodeon have had their day, and
are now passing. The charm, the passion, the lure of the dance remains
perennial. It never wholly disappears. It always returns.

In New York City alone there are three hundred saloon dance halls. Three
hundred dens of evil where every night in the year gallons of liquid
damnation are forced down the throats of unwilling drinkers! Where
the bodies and souls of thousands of girls are annually destroyed,
because the young are irresistibly drawn toward joy, and because we, all
of us, good people, busy people, indifferent people, unseeing people,
have permitted joy to become commercialized, have turned it into a
commodity to be used for money profit by the worst elements in society.
Could a more inverted scheme of things have been devised in a madhouse?

New York is by no means unique. Every city has its dance hall problem;
every small town its girl and boy problem; every country-side its
tragedy of the girl who, for relief from monotony, goes to the city and
never returns.

It is strange that nowhere, until lately, in city, town, or country, has
it occurred to any one that the community owed anything to this
insatiable thirst for joy.

Consider, for instance, the age-long indifference of the oldest of all
guardians of virtue, the Christian Church. To the demand for joy the
evangelical church has returned the stern reply: "To play cards, to go
to the theater, above all, to dance, is wicked." The Methodist Church,
for one, has this baleful theory written in its book of discipline, and
persistent efforts on the part of enlightened clergy and lay members
have utterly failed to expurgate it. The Catholic, Episcopalian, and
Lutheran churches utter no such strictures, but in effect they defend
the theory that joy, if not in itself an evil, at least is no necessity
of life.

To meet the growing social discontent, the increasing indifference to
old forms of religion, the open dissatisfaction with religious
organizations which had degenerated into clubs for rich men, there was
developed some years ago in America the "institutional church." This was
an honest effort to give to church members, and to those likely to
become church members, opportunity for social and intellectual
diversion. Parish houses and settlements were established, and these
were furnished with splendid gymnasiums, club rooms, committee rooms,
auditoriums for concerts and lectures, kitchens for cooking lessons, and
provision besides for basketry, sewing, and embroidery classes. These
are all good, and so are the numberless reading, debating, and study
clubs good, as far as they go. But what a pitifully short way they go!
They have built up congregations somewhat, but they have made not the
slightest impression on the big social problem. The reason is plain. The
appeal of the institutional church is too intellectual. It reaches only
that portion of the masses who stand least in need of social

To this accusation the church, man instituted and man controlled since
the beginning of the Christian Era, replies that it does all that can
be done for the uplift of humanity. That the church seems to be losing
its hold on the masses of people is attributed to a general drift of
degenerate humanity towards atheism and unbelief.

The people, the great world of people,--what a field for the church to
work in, if it only chose! The great obstacle is that the church
(leaving out the institutional church), on Sunday a vital, living force,
is content to exist all the other days in the week merely as a building.
Six days and more than half six evenings in the week the churches stand
empty and deserted. Simply from the point of view of material economy
this waste in church property, reduced to dollars and cents, would
appear deplorable. From the point of view of social economy, reduced to
terms of humanity, the waste is heartbreaking.

What would happen if something should loose those churches, or, at any
rate, their big Sunday-school rooms and their ample basements from this
icy exclusiveness, this week-day aloofness from humanity? Can you
picture them at night, streaming with light, gay with music, filled with
dancing crowds? not crowds from homes of wealth and comfort, but crowds
from streets and byways; crowds for which, at present, the underworld
spreads its nets? The great mass of the people, packed in dreary
tenements, slaves of machinery by day, slaves of their own starved souls
by night, must go somewhere for relaxation and forgetfulness. What would
happen if the church should invite them, not to pray but to play?

Some of the results might be a decrease in vice, in drinking, gambling,
and misery. At least we may infer as much from the success of the
occasional experiments which have been tried. We have a few examples to
prove that human nature is not the low, brutish thing it has too often
been described. It does not invariably choose wrong ways, but, on the
contrary, when a choice between right ways and wrong ways is presented,
the right is almost always preferred.

A year ago in Chicago there was witnessed a spectacle which, for utter
brutality and blindness of heart, I hope never to see duplicated.
Chicago had for some time been in the midst of a vigorous crusade
against organized vice. Too long neglected by the authorities and the
public, the so-called levee districts of the city had fallen into the
hands of grafting police officials, who, working with the lowest of
degraded of men, had created an open and most brazen vice syndicate.
Without going into details, it is enough to say that conditions finally
became so scandalous that all Chicago rose in horror and rebellion. The
police department was thoroughly overhauled, and a new chief appointed
who undertook in all earnestness to suppress the worst features of the
system. He had no new weapons it is true, and he probably had no
notion that he could make any impression on the evil of prostitution.
But he might have restored external decency and order, and he might
possibly have prepared the way for some scientific examination of the
problem. But a thing happened: one of those shocking blunders we too
often let happen. The efforts of the chief of police were set back,
because of that blunder, no one can tell how far. A new hysteria of vice
and disorder dates from the hour the blunder was made.

In October of 1909 "Gypsy" Smith, a noted evangelical preacher of the
itinerant order, was holding revival meetings in an armory on the South
Side of Chicago. With mistaken zeal this man announced that he was going
down into the South Side Levee and with one effort would reclaim every
one of the wretched inhabitants. He invited his immense congregation to
follow him there, and assist in the greatest crusade against vice the
world had ever seen.

In Chicago, as in other cities, no procession or parade is allowed to
march without permission from police headquarters. To the sorrow of all
those who believed that reform had really begun, Chief of Police Steward
issued a permit to "Gypsy" Smith. It is probable that the chief feared
the effect of a refusal. To lift up the fallen has ever been one of the
functions of religious bodies. Before issuing the permit, it is said
that he used all his powers of persuasion against the parade.

By orders from headquarters every house in the district was closed,
shuttered, and pitch dark on the night of the parade. Every door was
locked, and the most complete silence reigned within. It was into a
city of silence that the procession of nearly five thousand men, women,
and young people of both sexes marched on that October midnight. In the
glare of red fire and flaming torches, to the confused blare of many
Salvation Army brass bands, the quavering of hymn tunes, including the
classic, "Where Is My Wandering Boy To-night," and the constant
explosion of photographers' flashlights, the long procession stumbled
and jostled its way through streets that gave back for answer darkness
and silence.

But afterwards! The affair had been widely advertised, and it drew a
throng of spectators, not only from every quarter of the city, but from
every suburb and surrounding country town. Young men brought their
sweethearts, their sisters, to see the "show." As "Gypsy" Smith's
procession wound its noisy way out of the district, and back into the
armory, this great mob of people surged into the streets pruriently
eager to watch the awakening of the levee. It came. Lights flashed up in
almost every house. The women appeared at the windows and even in the
street. Saloon doors were flung open. The sound of pianos and
phonographs rose above the clamor of the mob. Pandemonium broke loose as
the crowds flung themselves into the saloons and other resorts. The
police had to beat people back from the doors with their clubs. A riot,
an orgy, impossible to describe, impossible to forget, ensued. Many of
those who took part in it had never been in such a district before.

This horrible scene somehow typified to my mind the whole blind,
chaotic, senseless attitude which society has preserved toward the most
baffling of all its problems. Nothing done to prevent the evil, because
no one knew what to do. After the evil was an established fact, after
the hearts of the victims were thoroughly hardened, after the last hope
of return had perished, then a "vice crusade"--led by a man!

Another scene witnessed about the same time seems to me to typify the
new attitude which society--led by women--is assuming towards its
problem. It was in the large kindergarten room of one of the oldest of
Chicago's social centers,--the Ely Bates Settlement. A group of little
Italian girls, peasant clad in the red and green colors of their native
land, swung around the room at a lively pace singing the familiar "Santa
Lucia." As the song ended the children suddenly broke into the maddest
of dances, a tarantella. Led by a graceful young girl, one of the
settlement workers, they danced with the joyous abandon of youthful
spirits untrammeled, ending the dance with a chorus of happy laughter.

This was only one group of many hundreds in every quarter of
Chicago,--in schools, settlements, kindergartens, and other
centers,--who were rehearsing for the third of the annual play
festivals given out of doors each year in Chicago. The festivals are
held in the most spacious of the seventeen wonderful public gardens and
playgrounds established of late throughout the city. Lasting all day,
this annual carnival of play is shared by school children, working girls
and boys, and young men and women. In the morning the children play and
perform their costume dances. In the afternoon the fields are given up
to athletic sports of older children, and in the evening young men and
women, of all nationalities, many wearing their old-world peasant
dresses, revive the plays and the dances of their native lands. Tens of
thousands view the beautiful spectacle, which each year excites more
interest and assumes an added importance in the civic life of Chicago.

Each of the large parks in Chicago's system is provided with a municipal
dance hall, spacious buildings with perfect floors, good light, and
ventilation. Any group of young people are at liberty to secure a hall,
rent free, for dancing parties. The city imposes only one
condition,--that the dances be chaperoned by park supervisors.
Beautifully decorated with growing plants from the park greenhouses
these municipal dance halls are scenes of gayety almost every night in
the year. Park restaurants in connection with the halls furnish good
food at low prices. Of course no liquor is sold. Nobody wants it. This
is proved by the fact that saloon dance halls in the neighborhood of the
parks have been deserted by their old patrons.

Women have recognized the debt to youth and the joy of life, and they
are preparing to pay it.

In this latest form of social service they have entered a battlefield
where the powers of righteousness have ever fought a losing fight. Men
have grappled with the social evil without success. They have labored
to discover a substitute for the saloon, and they have failed. They have
tried to suppress the dance hall and they have failed. They have made
laws against evil resorts, and they have sent agents of the police to
enforce their laws, but to no effect.

The failure of the men does not dishearten or discourage the women who
have taken up the work. They believe that they have discovered an
altogether new way in which to fight the social evil.

They propose to turn against it its own most powerful weapons. The joy
of life is to be fed with proper food instead of poison. Girls and young
men are to be offered a chance to escape the nets stretched for them by
the underworld. In many cities women's clubs and women's societies are
establishing on a small scale amusement and recreation centers for young
people. In New York Miss Virginia Potter, niece of the late Bishop
Potter, and Miss Potter's colleagues in the Association of Working
Girls' Clubs, have opened a public dance hall. The use of the large
gymnasium of the Manhattan Trade School for Girls was secured, and every
Saturday evening, from eight until eleven, young men and women come in
and dance to excellent music, under the instruction, if they need it,
of a skilled dancing-master. A small fee is charged, partly to defray
expenses, and partly to attract a class of people who disdain
philanthropy and settlements. The experiment is new, but it is
undoubtedly successful. As many as two hundred couples have been
admitted in an evening. In half a dozen cities women's clubs and women's
committees are at work on this matter of establishing amusement and
recreation centers for young people. In New York a Committee on
Amusement and Vacation Resources of Working Girls has for its president
a social worker of many years, Mrs. Charles M. Israels. Associated with
the committee are many other well-known social economists,--women of
wealth and influence who have given years to the service of working
girls. The committee began its work by a scientific investigation into
the dance halls of New York, the summer parks and picnic grounds in the
outlying districts, and of the summer excursion boats which ply up and
down the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. The revelations made by
this investigation, carried on under the supervision of Miss Julia
Schoenfeld, were terrible enough. They were made to appear still more
terrible when it was known that men of the highest social and commercial
standing were profiting hugely from the most vicious forms of
amusement. A state senator is one of the largest stockholders in Coney
Island resorts of bad character. An ex-governor of the State controls a
popular excursion boat, on which staterooms are rented by the hour, for
immoral purposes no one can possibly doubt. The women of the committee
submitted the findings of their investigators to the managers of these
amusement places and to the directors of the steamboat lines, and in
many instances reforms have been promised. The point is that a committee
of women had to finance an investigation to show these business men the
conditions which were adding to their wealth, and into which they had
never even inquired.

Another investigation made by the committee revealed the meagerness of
the provision made by churches, settlements, and business establishments
for working girls' vacations. There are, in round numbers, four hundred
thousand working women in Greater New York. Of these, something like
three hundred thousand are unmarried girls between the ages of fourteen
and thirty. In all, only 6,874 of these young toilers, who earn on an
average six dollars a week, are provided with vacation outings. They are
usually given vacations, with or without pay, but they spend the idle
time at Coney Island, on excursion boats, or in the dance hall.

Of the 1,257 churches and synagogues of New York, only six report
organized vacation work for girls and women. Of the twenty or more large
department stores, employing thousands of women, only three have
vacation houses in the country. Of the hundred or more social
settlements in New York only fifteen provide summer homes. There are
several vacation societies which do good work with limited resources,
but they are able to care for comparatively few. We have heard much of
fresh air work for children, and we can afford to hear more. But that
the fresh air work for young girls and women who toil long hours in
factory and shop must be extended, this committee's investigation
definitely establishes.

The first practical work of the committee, after the investigation of
amusement and recreation places, was a bill introduced into the State
Legislature providing for the licensing and regulation of public dancing
academies, prohibiting the sale of liquor in such establishments, and
holding the proprietor responsible for indecent dancing and improper

Against the bitter opposition of the dancing academy proprietors the
bill became a law and went into effect in September, 1909. Almost
immediately it was challenged on constitutional grounds. The committee
promptly introduced another bill, this one to regulate dance halls.
This bill, which passed the legislature and is now a law, aims to wipe
out the saloon dance hall absolutely, and so to regulate the sale of
liquor in all dancing places that the drink evil will be cut down to a
minimum. The license fee of fifty dollars a year will eliminate the
lowest, cheapest resorts, and a rigid system of inspection will not only
go far towards preserving good order, but will do away with the
wretchedly dirty, ill-smelling, unsanitary fire traps in which many
halls are located. The dance-hall proprietor who encourages or even
tolerates "tough" dancing, or who admits to the floor "White Slavers,"
procurers, or persons of open immorality, will be liable to forfeiture
of his license.

The committee has done more than try to reform existing dance halls. It
has taken steps to establish, in neighborhoods where evil resorts
abound, attractive dance halls, where a decent standard of conduct is
combined with all the best features of the evil places--good floors,
lively music, bright lights. Two corporations have been organized for
the maintenance, in various parts of the city, of model dance halls, and
one hall has already been opened. The patrons of the model dance hall do
not know that it is a social experiment paid for by a committee of
women. It is run exactly like any public dancing place, only in an
orderly fashion.

Every extension of use of public places, schools, parks, piers, as
recreation places for young people between fifteen and twenty is
encouraged and supported by the committee. Already two public schools
have organized dancing classes, and several settlements have thrown open
their dances to the public where formerly they were attended only by
settlement club members.

By helping working girls to find cheap vacation homes in the country,
and by establishing vacation banks to help the girls save for their
summer outings, the committee hopes to discourage some of the haphazard
picnic park dissipation. In summer many trades are slack, girls are
idle, and out of sheer boredom they hang around the parks seeking
amusement. It is only a theory, perhaps, but Mrs. Israels and the others
on her committee believe that if many of these girls knew that a country
vacation were within the possibilities, they would gladly save money
towards it. At present the vacation facilities of working girls in large
cities are small. In New York, where at least three hundred thousand
girls and women earn their bread, only about six thousand are helped to
summer vacations in the country. What these women are doing now on a
small scale, experimentally, will soon be adopted, as their children's
playgrounds, their kindergartens, their vacation schools, and other
enterprises have been adopted, by the municipalities. Their probation
officers, long paid out of club treasuries, have already been
transferred to many cities, east and west. Soon municipal dance halls,
municipal athletic grounds, municipal amusement and recreation centers
for all ages and all classes will be provided.

Already New York is preparing for such a campaign. The newly-appointed
Parks Commissioner, Charles B. Stover, looking over his office force,
dismissed one secretary whose function seemed largely ornamental, and
diverted his salary of four thousand dollars to recreation purposes for
young people. Commissioner Stover desires the appointment of a city
officer who shall be a Supervisor of Recreations, a man or a woman whose
entire time shall be devoted to discovering where recreation parks,
dancing pavilions, music, and other forms of pleasure are needed, and
how they may be made to do the most good. A neighborhood that thirsts
for concerts ought to have them. A community that desires to dance
deserves a dance hall. In the long run, how infinitely better, how much
more economical for the city to furnish these recreations, normally and
decently conducted, than to bear the consequences of an order of things
like the present one. The new order must come. It is the only way yet
pointed out by which we may hope to close those other avenues, where the
joy of youth is turned into a cup of trembling, and the dancing feet of
girlhood are led into mires of shame.



According to the findings of the Massachusetts State Bureau of Labor
Statistics, whose investigation into previous occupation of fallen women
was described in a former chapter, domestic service is a dangerous
trade. Of the 3,966 unfortunates who came under the examination of the
Bureau's investigators, 1,115, or nearly thirty per cent, had been in
domestic service. No other single industry furnished anything like this

From time to time reformatories and institutions dealing with delinquent
women and girls examine the industrial status of their charges, always
with results which agree with or even exceed the Massachusetts
statistics. Bedford Reformatory, one of the two New York State
institutions for delinquent women, in an examination of a group of one
thousand women, found four hundred and thirty general houseworkers,
twenty-four chamber-maids, thirteen nursemaids, eight cooks, and
thirty-six waitresses. As some of the waitresses may have been
restaurant workers, we will eliminate them. Even so, it will be seen
that four hundred and seventy-five--nearly half of the Bedford
women--had been servants.

In 1908 the Albion House of Refuge, New York, admitted one hundred and
sixty-eight girls. Of these ninety-two were domestics, one was a lady's
maid, and nine were nursemaids.

Of one hundred and twenty-seven girls in the Industrial School at
Rochester, New York, in 1909, only fifty-one were wage earners. Of that
number twenty-nine had worked in private homes as domestics. Bedford
Reformatory receives mostly city girls; Albion and Rochester are
supplied from small cities and country towns. It appears that domestic
service is a dangerous trade in small communities as well as in large

On the face of it, the facts are wonderfully puzzling. Domestic service
is constantly urged upon women as the safest, healthiest, most normal
profession in which they can possibly engage. Assuredly it seems to
possess certain unique advantages. Domestic service is the only field of
industry where the demand for workers permanently exceeds the supply.
The nature of the work is essentially suited, by habit, tradition, and
long experiment, to women. It offers economic independence within the
shelter of the home.

Lastly, housework pays extremely well. A girl totally ignorant of the
art of cooking, of any household art, one whose function is to clean,
scrub, and assist her employer to prepare meals, can readily command ten
dollars a month, with board. The same efficiency, or lack of efficiency,
in a factory or department store would be worth about ten dollars a
month, without board. The wages of a competent houseworker, in any part
of the country, average over eighteen dollars a month. Add to this about
thirty dollars a month represented by food, lodging, light, and fire,
and you will see that the competent houseworker's yearly income amounts
to five hundred and seventy-six dollars. This is a higher average than
the school-teacher or the stenographer receives; it is almost double the
average wage of the shop girl, or the factory girl. It is, in fact,
about as high as the usual income of the American workingman.

It is true that the social position of the domestic worker is lower than
that of the teacher, stenographer, or factory worker. This undoubtedly
affects the attractiveness of domestic service as a profession. But the
lower social position is in itself no explanation of the high rate of
immorality. At least there are no figures to prove that the rate of
morality rises or falls with the social status of the individual.

In the contemplation of what is known as the "servant problem," I think
we have been less scientific and more superficial than in any other
social or industrial problem. For the increasing dearth of domestic
workers, for the lowered standard of efficiency, for the startling
amount of immorality alleged to belong to the class, we have given every
explanation except the right one.

At the bottom of the "servant problem" lies the fact that it exists in
the privacy of the home. Now, we have reached a point of social
consciousness where we allow that it is right to intrude some homes and
ask questions for the good of the community. "How many children have
you?" "Are they all in school?" "Does your husband drink?" We have not
yet reached the point of sending agents to inquire: "How many servants
do you keep; what are their hours of work, and what kind of sleeping
accommodations do you furnish them?"

Some intelligent inquiry has been made into surface conditions. The
Sociological Department of Vassar College, under Professor Lucy Maynard
Salmon, during the years 1889 and 1890, made an exhaustive study of
wages, hours of work, difficulties, advantages, and disadvantages of
domestic service. Professor Salmon's book, "Domestic Service," giving
the results of the inquiry, is a classic on the subject. It deals,
however, almost entirely with the ethical side of the problem, the
social relation between mistress and maid. The relation between the
worker and the industry is hardly examined at all.

A later inquiry into the servant problem was conducted in 1903, in half
a dozen cities, by organizations of women which associated themselves
for the purpose, under the name of the Intermunicipal Committee on
Household Research.

The Woman's Municipal League of New York, the Educational and Industrial
Union of Boston, the Housekeepers' Alliance, and the Civic Club of
Philadelphia were the moving elements in the investigation. Co-operating
with them were the College Settlements Association and the
Association of Collegiate Alumnae, which together established a
scholar ship for the research. This research was most ably conducted by
Miss Frances Kellor, a Vassar graduate, and nine assistant workers, all
of whom were college women. The report of the investigation was
published a year later in the volume "Out of Work."[1]

This investigation by organizations of educated and expert women was the
first survey ever made of domestic service _as an industry_, the first
scientific study of domestic workers _as an industrial group_. It was
the first intelligent attempt to review housework as if it were a trade.

The most important conclusion of the investigators was that housework,
domestic service, although carried on as a trade, is really no trade at
all. The domestic worker is no more a part of modern industry than the
Italian woman who finishes "pants" in a tenement, or the child who stays
from school to fasten hooks and eyes on paper cards.

Do not let us make a mistake concerning the underlying cause of the
servant problem. Let us face the truth that we have two institutions
which are back numbers in twentieth century civilization: two left-overs
from a past-and-gone domestic system of industry. One of these is the
tenement sweat shop, where women combine, or try to combine,
manufacturing and housekeeping. The other is the private kitchen--the
home--where the last stand of conservatism and tradition, the last
lingering remnant of hand labor, continues to exist.

No woman who is free enough, strong enough, intelligent enough to seek
work in a factory or shop, is ever found in a sweat shop or seen
carrying bundles of coats to finish at home.

Exactly for the same reason the average American working woman shuns
housework as a means of livelihood. You will find in every community a
few women of intelligence who are naturally so domestic in their tastes
and inclinations that they shrink from any work outside the home. Such
women do adhere to domestic service, but, broadly speaking, you behold
in the servant group merely the siftings of the real industrial class.

In a tentative, halting sort of fashion we are learning to humanize the
factory and shop. Factory workers, mill hands, department store clerks,
have been granted legislation in almost every State of the Union,
regulating hours of work, sanitary conditions, ventilation, and in some
cases they have been given protection from dangerous machinery. In
department stores they have been granted even certain special comforts,
such as seats on which to rest while not actually working.

Of course, we have done no more than make a beginning in this matter of
humanizing the factory and the shop. But we have made a beginning, and
the movement toward securing better and juster and healthier conditions
for workers in all the industries is bound to continue. So long as
manufacturing was carried on in the home, no such protective legislation
as workers now enjoy was dreamed of. We had to wait until the workers
came together in large groups before we could see their conditions and
understand their needs.

Housework, because it is performed in isolation, because it is purely
individual labor, has never been classed among the industries. It has
rather been looked upon as a normal feminine function, a form of healthy
exercise. No one has ever suggested to legislators that sweeping and
beating rugs might be included among the dusty trades; that bending over
steaming washtubs, and almost immediately afterwards going out into
frosty air to hang the clothes, might be harmful to throat and lungs;
that remaining within doors days at a time, as houseworkers almost
invariably do, reacts on nerves and the entire physical structure; that
steady service, if not actual labor, from six in the morning until nine
and ten at night makes excessive demands on mind and body.

Such conditions exist because the workers are too weak, too inefficient,
too unintelligent to change them. Yet the demand for servants so far
exceeds the supply that they are in a position, theoretically, to
dictate the terms of their own employment. If they elected to demand
pianos and private baths they could get them; that is, if instead of
remaining isolated individuals they could form themselves into an
industrial class, like plumbers, or bricklayers, or carpenters. Even as
isolated individuals they are able to command a better money wage than
more efficient workers, which proves how great is the need for their

The housekeeper clings to her archaic kitchen, firmly believing that if
she gave it up, tried to replace it by any form of co-operative living,
the pillars of society would crumble and the home pass out of existence.
Yet so strong is her instinctive repugnance to the medieval system on
which her household is conducted, that she shuns it, runs away from it
whenever she can. Housekeeping as a business is a dark mystery to her.
The mass of women in the United States probably hold, almost as an
article of religion, the theory that woman's place is in the home. But
the woman who can organize and manage a home as her husband manages his
business, systematically, profitably, professionally--well, how many
such women do you know?

It would seem as if in the newer generations, the average housekeeper is
not in the professional class at all. Usually she lacks professional
training. If she was brought up in a well-to-do home where there were
several servants, she knows literally nothing of cooking, or of any
department of housekeeping. Even when she has had some instruction in
household tasks, she almost never connects cooking with chemistry, food
with dietetics, cleanliness with sanitation, buying with bookkeeping.
She is an amateur. And she takes into her household to do work she
herself is incapable of doing, another amateur, a woman who might, in
many cases, do well under a capable commander, but who is hopelessly at
sea when expected to evolve a system of housekeeping all by herself.

This irregular state of affairs in what should be a carefully studied,
well-organized industry is reflected in the conditions commonly meted
out to domestics. Take housing conditions, for example. Some
housekeepers provide their servants with good beds; of course, not quite
as good as other members of the household enjoy, but good enough. Some
set aside pleasant, warm, well-furnished rooms for the servants. But
Miss Kellor's investigators reported that it was common to find the only
unheated room in a house or apartment set aside for the servant. They
found great numbers of servants' rooms in basements, having no sunlight
or heat.

At one home, where an investigator applied for a "place," the
housekeeper complained that her last maid was untidy. Then she showed
the applicant to the servant's room. This was a little den partitioned
off from the coal bin!

In another place, the maid was required to sleep on an ironing board
placed over the bathtub. In still another, the maid spent her night of
rest on a mattress laid over the wash tubs in a basement. A bed for two
servants, consisting of a thin mattress on the dining-room table, was
also found.

Unventilated closets, rooms opening off from the kitchen, small and
windowless, are very commonly provided in city flats. Even in spacious
country homes the servants' rooms are considered matters of little

"One woman," writes Miss Kellor, "planned her new three-story house with
the attic windows so high that no one could see out of them. When the
architect remonstrated she said: 'Oh, those are for the maids; I don't
expect them to spend their time looking out.'"

I remember a young girl who waited on table at a woman's hotel where I
made my home. One morning I sent this girl for more cream for my coffee.
She was gone some time and I spoke to her a little impatiently when she
returned. She was silent for a moment, then she said: "Do you know that
every time you send me to the pantry it means a walk of three and a half
blocks? This dining-room and the kitchens and pantries are a block
apart, and are separated by three flights of stairs. I have counted the
distance there and back, and it is more than three blocks."

"But, Kittie," I said to her, "why do you work in a hotel, if it's like
that? Why don't you take a place in a private family?"

"I've tried that," said the girl. "I had a place with the ----family,"
mentioning an historic name. "They had sickness in the family, and they
stopped in town all summer. My room was up in the attic, with only a
skylight for ventilation. During the day, except for the time I spent
sitting on the area steps after nine o'clock, I was waiting on the cook
in a hot kitchen. They let me out of the house once every two weeks.
Here I have some freedom, at least."

I have told this story to dozens of domestics, many of them from homes
of wealth, and they agree that it is a common case. It is very rare,
these girls say, to find a mistress who is willing to allow her maids to
leave the house except on their days out. They concede certain hours of
rest, it is true, but those hours must be spent within doors. "Why, if
you went out I should be sure to need you," is the usual explanation.

Imagine a factory girl or a stenographer being required to remain after
hours on the chance of being needed for extra work.

There is an aspect to this phase of the servant question which is
generally overlooked by employers. This is an isolation from human
intercourse to be found in no other industry. When the household employs
only one servant the isolation is absolute. The girl is marooned, within
full sight of others' happy life. Even when kindness is her portion she
is an outsider from the family circle. Important as her function is in
the life of the household, she is socially the lowest unit in it.

During the course of a great strike of mill operatives in Fall River,
Massachusetts, a few years ago, a considerable group of weaver and
spinner girls were induced, by members of the Women's Trade Union
League, to take up domestic service until the close of the strike. As
the girls were in acute financial distress they agreed to try the
experiment. These were mostly American or English girls, some of them
above the average of intelligence and good sense.

Housework with its great variety of tasks made severe draughts on the
strength of girls accustomed to using one set of muscles. The long hours
and the confinement of domestic service affected nerves adjusted to a
legal fifty-eight-hour week.

But the girls' real objection to housework was its loneliness. Hardly a
single house in Boston, or the surrounding suburbs, where the girls
found places, was provided with a servants' sitting room. There was
absolutely no provision made for callers. For a servant is supposed not
to have friends except on her days out. On those occasions she is
assumed to meet her friends on the street.

In England people recognize the fact that they have a servant class.
Every house of any pretentions provides a servants' hall.

In the United States a sitting room for servants, even in millionaires'
homes, is a rarity.

More than this, in many city households, especially in apartment
households, the servants are prohibited from receiving their friends
even in the kitchen. "Are we allowed to receive men visitors in the
house?" chorused a group of girls, questioned in a fashionable
employment agency. "Mostly our friends are not allowed to step inside
the areaway while we are putting on our hats to go out."

There is no escaping the conclusion that a large part of the social
evil, or that branch of it recruited every year from domestic service,
is traceable to American methods of dealing with servants. The domestic,
belonging, as a rule, to a weak and inefficient class, is literally
driven into paths where only strength and efficiency could possibly
protect her from evil.

Servants share, in common with all other human beings, the necessity for
human intercourse. They must have associates, friends, companions. If
they cannot meet them in their homes they must seek them outside.

Walk through the large parks in any city, late in the evening, and
observe the couples who occupy obscurely placed benches. You pity them
for their immodest behavior in a public place. But most of them have no
other place to meet. And it is not difficult to comprehend that
clandestine appointments in dark corners as a rule do not conduce to
proper behavior. Most of the women you see on park benches are domestic
servants. Some of them, it is safe to assume, work in New York's
Fifth Avenue, or in mansions on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive.


The social opportunity of the domestic worker is limited to the park
bench, the cheap theater, the summer excursion boat, and the dance hall.
Hardly ever does a settlement club admit a domestic to membership;
rarely does a working girls' society or a Young Women's Christian
Association circle bid her welcome. The Girls' Friendly Association of
the Protestant Episcopal Church is a notable exception to this rule.

In a large New England city, not long ago, a member of the Woman's Club
proposed to establish a club especially for domestics, since no other
class of women seemed willing to associate with them. The proposal was
voted down. "For," said the women, "if they had a clubroom they would be
sure to invite men, and immorality might result."

But there is no direct connection between a clubroom and immorality,
whereas the park bench after dark and the dance hall and its almost
invariable accompaniment of strong drink are positive dangers.

The housekeeper simply does not realize that her domestics are _girls_,
exactly like other girls. They need social intercourse, they need
laughter and dancing and healthy pleasure just as other girls need them,
as much as the young ladies of the household need them.

Perhaps they need them even more. The girl upstairs has mental resources
which the girl downstairs lacks. The girl upstairs has the protection
of family, friends, social position. The last is of greatest importance,
because the woman without a social position has ever been regarded by a
large class of men as fair game. The domestic worker sometimes finds
this out within the shelter, the supposed shelter, of her employer's


Tolstoy's terrible story "Resurrection" has for its central anecdote in
the opening chapter a court-room scene in which a judge is called upon
to sentence to prison a woman for whose downfall he had, years before,
been responsible. A somewhat similar story in real life, with a happier
ending, was told me by the head of a woman's reformatory. This official
received a visit from a lawyer, who told her with much emotion that he
had, several days before, been present when a young girl was sentenced
to a term in a reformatory.

"She lived in my home," said the man. "I believe that she was a good
girl up to that time. My wife died, my home was given up, and of course
I forgot that poor girl. She never made any claim on me. When I saw her
there in court, among the dregs of humanity, her face showing what her
life had become, I wanted to shoot myself. Now she is here, with a
chance to get back her health and a right state of mind. Will you help
me to make amends?"

The head of the reformatory rather doubted the man's sincerity at first.
She feared that his repentance was superficial. She refused to allow
him to see or to communicate with the girl, but she wrote him regularly
of her progress. Several times in the course of the year the man visited
the reformatory, and at the end of that period he was allowed to see the
girl. This institution happens to be one of the few where a rational and
a humane system of outdoor work is in vogue. The girl, who a year back
had been almost a physical wreck from drugs and the life of the streets,
was again strong, healthy, and sane. The two forgave each other and were

If the position of the domestic, while living in the shelter of a
family, is sometimes precarious, her situation, when out of a job, is
often actually perilous.

If a girl has a home she goes to that home, and regards her temporary
period of unemployment as a pleasant vacation. But in most cases, in
cities, at any rate, few girls have homes of which they can avail

"In no city," says Miss Kellor's report, "are adequate provisions made
for such homeless women, and their predicament is peculiarly acute, for
their friends are often household workers who cannot extend the
hospitality of their rooms."

I think I hear a chorus of protesting voices: "We don't have anything
to do with the servant class you are describing. Our girls are
respectable. They meet their friends at church. They come to us from
reputable employment offices, which would not deal with them if they
were not all right."

Are you sure you know this? What, after all, do you really know about
your servants? What do you know about the employment office that sent
her to you? What do you know of the world inhabited by servants and the
people who deal in servants? Can you not imagine that it might be
different from the one you live in so safely and comfortably?

Are you willing to know the facts about the world, the underworld, from
which the girl who cooks your food and takes care of your children is
drawn? Do you care to know how a domestic spends the time between
places, how she gets to your kitchen or nursery, the kind of homes she
may have been in before she came to you? Make a little descent into that
underworld with a girl whose experience is matched with those of many

Nellie B---- was an Irish girl, strong, pretty of face, and joyful of
temperament. The quiet Indiana town where she earned her living as a
cook offered Nellie so little diversion that she determined to go to
Chicago to live. She gave up her place, and with a month's wages in her
pocket went to the city.

It was late in the afternoon when her train reached the station. Nellie
alighted, bewildered and lonely. She had the address of an employment
agency, furnished her by an acquaintance. Nellie slept that night, or
rather tossed sleepless in the agency lodging house, on a dirty bed
occupied by two women besides herself. In all her life she had never
been inside such a filthy room, or heard such frightful conversation.
Therefore next morning she gladly paid her exorbitant bill of one dollar
and seventy-five cents, besides a fee of two dollars and a half for
obtaining employment, and accepted the first place offered her.

The house she was taken to seemed to be conducted rather strangely.
Meals were at unusual hours, and the household consisted largely of
young women who received many men callers. For about a week Nellie did
her work unmolested. At the end of the week her mistress presented her
with a low-necked satin dress and asked her if she would not like to
assist in entertaining the men. Simple-minded Nellie had to have the
nature of the entertaining explained to her, and she had great
difficulty in leaving the house after she had declined the offer. She
had hardly any money left, and the woman refused to pay her for her
week's work.

Nellie knew of no other employment agency, so she was obliged to return
to the one she left. When she reproached the agent for sending her to a
disreputable house he shrugged his shoulders and replied: "Well, I send
girls where they're wanted. If they don't like the place they can

The fact is, they cannot always leave when they want to. Miss Kellor's
investigators found an office in Chicago which sent girls to a resort in
Wisconsin which was represented as a summer hotel. This notorious place
was surrounded by a high stockade which rendered escape impossible.

The investigators found offices in other cities which operate
disreputable houses in summer places. To these the proprietors send the
handsomest of their applicants for honest work.

Three girls sent to a house of this kind found themselves prisoners. One
girl made such a disturbance by screaming and crying that the proprietor
literally kicked her out of the house. The investigators for the
Intermunicipal Committee on Household Research saw this girl in a
hospital, insane and dying from the treatment she had received. Another
of the three escaped from the place. She, too, was discovered in a state
of dementia. The fate of the third girl is obscure.


Not all employment agencies cater to this trade. Not all would consent
to be accessory to women's degradation. But the employment agency
business, taken by and large, is disorganized, haphazard, out of date.
It is operated on a system founded in lies and extortion. The offices
want fees--fees from servants and fees from employers. They encourage
servants to change their employment as often as possible. Often a firm
will send a girl to a place, and a week or two later will send her word
that they have a better job for her. Sometimes they arrange with her to
leave her place after a certain period, promising her an easier position
or a better wage. They favor the girl who changes often. "You're a nice
kind of a customer!" jeered one proprietor to a girl who boasted that
she had been in a family for five years. The girl was a _customer_ to
him, and she was nothing more.

To his profitable customer the agent is often very accommodating. If she
lacks references he writes her flattering ones, or loans her a reference
written by some woman of prominence. References, indeed, are often
handed around like passports among Russian revolutionists.

Many of these unpleasant facts were brought to light in the course of
the investigation made by the Intermunicipal Committee on Household
Research. The result of their report was a model employment agency law,
passed by the New York State Legislature, providing for a strict
licensing system, rigid forms of contract, regulation of fees, and
inspection by special officers of the Bureau of Licenses. The law
applies only to cities of the first class, and unfortunately has never
been very well enforced. Perhaps it has not been possible to enforce it.

In all the cities examined by the Intermunicipal Committee on Household
Research the investigators found the majority of employment agencies in
close connection with the homes of the agents. In New York, of three
hundred and thirteen offices visited, one hundred and twenty were in
tenements, one hundred and seven in apartment houses, thirty-nine in
residences and only forty-nine in business buildings. In
Philadelphia, only three per cent of employment agencies were found
in business buildings. Chicago made a little better showing, with
nineteen per cent in business houses. The difficulty of properly
regulating a business which is carried on in the privacy of a home is
apparent. When an agency is in a business building it usually has
conspicuous signs, and often the rooms are well equipped with desks,
comfortable chairs, and other office furnishings. But the majority of
agencies are of another description. Those dealing with immigrant girls
are sometimes filthy rooms in some rear tenement, reached through a
saloon or a barber shop facing the street. Often the other tenants of
the building are fortune tellers, palmists, "trance mediums," and like

A large number of these agencies operate lodging houses for their
patrons. There is hardly a good word to say for most of these, except
that they are absolutely necessary. Dirty, unsanitary, miserable as they
usually are, if they were closed by law, hundreds, perhaps thousands of
domestics temporarily out of work, would be turned into the streets.
Many are unfamiliar with the cities they live in. Many more are barred
from hotels on account of small means. Often a girl finding it
impossible to bring herself to lie down on the wretched beds provided by
these lodging houses, leaves her luggage and goes out, not to return
until morning. She spends the night in dance halls and other resorts.

According to Miss Kellor's report this description of employment
agencies and lodging houses attached to them applies to about
seventy-five per cent of all offices in the four cities examined. For
greater accuracy the investigators made a brief survey of conditions in
cities, such as St. Louis, New Haven, and Columbus, Ohio. The
differences were slight, showing that the employment agency problem is
much the same east and west.

Domestic servants have their industrial ups and downs like other
workers. Sometimes they are able to pay the fees required in a
high-class employment office, while at other times they are obliged to
have recourse to the cheaper places, where standards of honesty, and
perhaps also, of propriety, are low. Domestic workers are the nomads of
industry. Their lives are like their work,--impermanent, detached from
others', unobserved.

It is for the housekeepers of America to consider the plain facts
concerning domestic service. Some of the conditions they can change.
Others they cannot. No one can alter the economic status of the kitchen.
Like the sweat shop, it must ultimately disappear.

What system of housekeeping will take the place of the present system
cannot precisely be foretold. We know that the whole trend of things
everywhere is toward co-operation. Within the past ten years think how
much cooking has gone into the factory, how much washing into the steam
laundry, how much sewing into the shop. As the cost of living increases,
more and more co-operation will be necessary, especially for those of
moderate income. At the present time millions of city dwellers have
given up living in their own houses, or even in rented houses. They
cannot afford to maintain individual homes, but must live in apartment
houses, where the expenses of heat, and other expenses, notably water,
hall, and janitor service, are reduced to a minimum because shared by
all the tenants. There may come a time when the private kitchen will be
a luxury of the very rich.

For a time, however, the private kitchen and the servant in the kitchen
will remain. That is one servant problem. But the housekeeper still has
another "servant problem," and I have tried to make it clear that this
problem pretty closely involves the morals of the community.

Now this matter of community morals has begun to interest women
profoundly. In many of their organizations women are studying and
endeavoring to understand the causes of evil. They are securing the
appointment of educated women as probation officers in the courts which
deal with delinquent women and girls. Sincerely they are working toward
a better understanding of the problem of the prodigal daughter.

Since about one-third of all these prodigals are recruited from the
ranks of domestic workers it is possible for the housekeepers of the
country to play an important part in this work. Every woman in the
United States who employs one servant has a contribution to make to the
movement. The power to humanize domestic service in her own household is
in every woman's hand.

Loneliness, social isolation, the ban of social inferiority,--these
cruel and unreasonable restrictions placed upon an entire class of
working women are out of tune with democracy. The right of the domestic
worker to regular hours of labor, to freedom after her work is done, to
a place to receive her friends, must be recognized. The self-respect of
the servant must in all ways be encouraged.

Above all, the right of the domestic worker to social opportunity must
be admitted. It must be provided for.

Yonkers, New York, a large town on the Hudson River, points out one way
toward this end. In Yonkers there has been established a Women's
Institute for the exclusive use of domestics. It has an employment
agency and supports classes in domestic science for those girls who wish
to become more expert workers. There are club rooms and recreation
parlors where the girls receive and meet their friends--including their
men friends. A group of liberal-minded women established this unique
institution, which is well patronized by the superior class of domestic
workers in Yonkers. The dues are small, and members are allowed to share
club privileges with friends. It is not unusual for employers to present
their domestics with membership cards. It cannot be said that the
Women's Institute has solved the servant problem for Yonkers, but many
women testify to its happy effects on their own individual problems.

The Committee on Amusements and Vacation Resources of Working Girls in
New York is collecting a long list of farmhouses and village homes in
the mountains and near the sea where working girls, and this includes
domestics, may spend their vacations for very little money.

Every summer, as families leave the city for country and seaside,
domestics are thrown out of employment. A department in the Women's Club
can examine vacation possibilities for domestics. The clubs can also
deal with the employment agency. Some women's organizations have already
taken hold of this department. The Women's Educational and Industrial
Union of Boston conducts a very large and flourishing employment agency.
Women's clubs can study the laws of their own community in regard to
public employment agencies. They can investigate homes for immigrant
girls and boarding-houses for working women.

Preventive work is better than reform measures, but both are necessary
in dealing with this problem. Women have still much work to do in
securing reformatories for women. New York is the first State to
establish such reformatories for adult women. Private philanthropy has
offered refuges and semipenal institutions. The State stands aloof.

Even in New York public officials are strangely skeptical of the
possibilities of reform. Last year the courts of New York City sent
three thousand delinquent women to the workhouse on Blackwell's
Island,--a place notorious for the low state of its _morale_. They sent
only seventeen women to Bedford Reformatory, where a healthy routine of
outdoor work, and a most effective system administered by a scientific
penologist does wonders with its inmates. Nothing but the will and the
organized effort of women will ever solve the most terrible of all
problems, or remove from society the reproach of ruined womanhood which
blackens it now.


Note 1: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1904.



Although Woman Suffrage has been for a number of years a part of the
program of the International Council of Women, the American Branch,
represented by the General Federation of Women's Clubs, at first
displayed little interest in the subject. Although many of the club
women were strong suffragists, there were many others, notably women
from the Southern States, who were violently opposed to suffrage. Early
in the club movement it was agreed that suffrage, being a subject on
which there was an apparently hopeless difference of opinion, was not a
proper subject for club consideration.

The position of the women in regard to suffrage was precisely that of
the early labor unions toward politics. The unions, fearing that the
labor leaders would use the men for their own political advancement,
resolved that no question of politics should ever enter into their

In the same way the club women feared that even a discussion of Woman
Suffrage in their state and national federation meetings would result in
their movement becoming purely political. They wanted to keep it a
non-partisan benevolent and social affair.


Somehow, in what mysterious manner no one can precisely tell, the
reserve of the club women towards the suffrage question began some years
ago to break down. At the St. Louis Biennial of 1904 part of a morning
session was given up to the suffrage organizations. Several remarkable
speeches in favor of the suffrage were made, and there is no doubt that
a very deep impression was made, even upon those women openly opposed to
the movement. Six years later, at the biennial meeting held in
Cincinnati, Ohio, in June, 1910, an entire evening was given up to an
exhaustive discussion of both sides of the question.

Dating from that evening a stranger visiting the convention might almost
have thought that the sole object of the gathering was a discussion of
the right of women to the ballot. Women floated through the corridors of
the hotel talking suffrage. They talked suffrage in little groups in the
dining-room, they discussed it in the street cars going to and from the

The local suffrage clubs had planned a banquet to the visiting
suffragists and had calculated a maximum of one hundred and fifty
applications for tickets.

Three days before the banquet they had had nearly three hundred
applications, and when the hour for the banquet arrived every available
seat, the room's limit of three hundred and seventy-five, was occupied.
Outside were women offering ten dollars a plate and clamoring for the
privilege of merely listening to the after-dinner speakers. Something
must have happened in the course of those eight years to make such an
astounding change in the attitude of the club women.

The fact is that until the club women had been at work at practical
things for a long period of years, they did not realize the social value
of their own activities. They thought of their work as benevolent and
philanthropic. That they were performing community service, _citizens_'
service, they did not remotely dream. There is nothing surprising in
their _naïveté_. It is a fact that in this country, although every one
knows that women own property, pay taxes, successfully manage their own
business affairs, and do an astonishing amount of community work as
well, no one ever thinks of them as citizens.

American men are accustomed to women in almost all trades and
professions. It doesn't astonish a New Yorker to see a hospital
ambulance tearing down the street with a white-clad woman surgeon on the
back seat. A woman lawyer, architect, editor, manufacturer, excites no
particular notice. In the Western States men are beginning to elect
women county treasurers, county superintendents of schools, and in
Chicago, second largest city in the country, a Board of Education,
overwhelmingly masculine, recently appointed a woman City Superintendent
of Schools.

Yet to the vast majority of American men women do not look like

As for the majority of American women they have always until recently
thought of themselves as a class,--a favored and protected class. They
cherished a sentimental kind of delusion that the American man was only
too anxious to give them everything that their hearts desired. When they
got out into the world of action, when they began to ask for something
more substantial than bonbons, the club women found that the American
man was not so very generous after all.

A typical instance occurred down in Georgia. A few years ago the women
of Georgia found a way to introduce into the legislature a child-labor
law. It was really a very modest little bill and it protected only a
fraction of the pitiful army of cotton-mill children, but still it was
worth having. The women worked hard and they got some very powerful
backing and a barrel or two of petitions. Nevertheless, the bill was
defeated. One legislative orator rose to explain his vote.

"Mr. Speaker," he said eloquently, "I am devoted to the good women of my
State. If I thought that the women of my State wanted this bill passed
I would vote for it; but, sir, I have every reason to believe that the
good women of my State are opposed to this bill, and therefore;"

At this juncture another member handed to the orator a petition bearing
the name of five thousand of the best known women in Georgia. The orator
stammered, turned red, felt for his handkerchief, mopped his brow, and
continued: "Mr. Speaker, I deeply regret that I did not see this
petition yesterday. As it is, my vote is pledged."

Incidents of this kind have occurred too frequently for the women of the
United States to escape their meaning. They have learned that they
cannot have everything they want merely by asking for it. Also they have
learned, or a large number of them have learned that the old theory of
women being represented at the polls by their husbands is very largely a

The entrance of women in large numbers into labor unions, and into
membership in the Women's Trade Union League is another factor in the
increasing interest of American women in suffrage. After a decision of
the New York Court of Appeals that the law prohibiting night work of
women was unconstitutional, nearly one thousand women book-binders in
New York City made a public announcement that they would thenceforth
work for the ballot. They had been indifferent before, but this close
application of politics to their industrial situation--bookbinding is
one of the night trades--made them alive to their own helplessness.

The shirt-waist strike and the garment workers' strike in New York and
Philadelphia, waged so bitterly in 1910, brought great numbers of women
into the suffrage ranks. Not only were the women strikers convinced that
the magistrates and the police treated them with more contempt than they
did the voting men, but they perceived the need of securing better labor
laws for themselves. The conviction that women of the wealthier classes
would stand by them in securing favorable laws, as they stood by the
strikers in the industrial struggle, was a strong lever to turn them
towards the suffrage ranks.


The Women's Trade Union League building, used as strike headquarters in
all strikes involving women workers, is a veritable center of suffrage
sentiment in New York! One floor houses the offices of the Equality
League of Self Supporting Women, of which Harriot Stanton Blatch is
founder and president. This society, which is entirely made up of trade
and professional workers, claims an approximate membership of twenty-two
thousand. A number of unions belong to the League, and there is also a
very large individual membership.

In Chicago the suffrage movement and the labor movement is more closely
associated than in any other American city. In Chicago, it will be
remembered, the Teachers' Federation is a trade union and is allied to
the Central Labor Union. Teachers, almost everywhere denied equal pay
with men for equal work, are eager seekers for political power. When, as
in Chicago, they are associated with labor, they become convinced

Organized labor has always been friendly to woman suffrage, but in
Chicago not only the union women but the union men are actively friendly
towards the cause. The original moving spirit in the Chicago
organization was a remarkable young working girl, Josephine Casey. Miss
Casey sold tickets at one of the stations of the Chicago Elevated, and
she formed her first woman suffrage club among the women members of the
Union of Street and Elevated Railway Employees. Later she organized on a
larger scale the Women's Political Equality Union, with membership open
to men and women alike. The interest shown in the union by workingmen,
many of whom had never before given the matter a moment's thought, was,
from the first, extraordinary. During the first winter of the society's
existence, union after union called for Woman Suffrage speakers.
Addresses were made before fifty or more. Some of the more popular
speakers often made four addresses in an evening. Mrs. Raymond Robins,
president of the National Women's Trade Union League, and Miss Alice
Henry, secretary of the Chicago branch of the League, won many converts
by their expositions of the exceedingly favorable labor laws of
Australia and New Zealand, where women vote.


Unquestionably the mighty battle which is waging in England made a deep
impression on American women of all classes. The visits made in this
country by Mrs. Cobden Sanderson, Mrs. Borrman Wells, Mrs. Philip
Snowden, and, most of all, Mrs. Pankhurst, leader of the militant
English Suffragists, aroused tremendous enthusiasm from one end of the
country to the other. Never, until these women appeared, telling, with
rare eloquence, their stories of struggle, of arrest and imprisonment,
had the vote appeared such an incomparable treasure. Never before,
except among a few enthusiasts, had there existed any feeling that the
suffrage was a thing to fight for, suffer for, even to die for.

Up to this time the suffrage was a theory, an academic question of right
and justice. After the visits of the English women, American suffragists
everywhere began to view their cause in the light of a political
movement. They began to adopt political methods. Instead of private
meetings where suffrage was discussed before a select audience of the
already convinced, the women began to mount soap boxes on street corners
and to talk suffrage to the man in the street.

The first suffrage demonstration was held in New York in February, 1908.
The members of a small but enthusiastic Equal Suffrage Club announced
their intention of having a parade. Most of the women being wage earners
they planned to have their parade on a Sunday. When they applied at
Police Headquarters for the necessary permit they found to their disgust
that Sunday parades were forbidden by law.

"Not unless you are a funeral procession," said the stern captain of the

The woman replied that they were anything but a funeral procession, and
threatened darkly to hold their parade in spite of police regulations.
They got plenty of newspaper publicity in the succeeding days, and on
the following Sunday a huge crowd of men, a sprinkling of women, a
generous number of plain clothes men, and New York's famous "camera
squad" assembled in Union Square, where all incendiary things happen.
The dauntless seven who made up the suffrage club were there, and at the
psychological moment one of the women ran up the steps of a park
pavilion and spoke in a ringing voice, yet so quietly that the police
made no move to stop her.

"Friends," she said, "we are not allowed to have our parade, so we are
going to hold a meeting of protest at No. 209 East 23d Street. We invite
you to go over there with us." She and the others walked calmly out of
the square, and the crowd followed. They turned into Fifth Avenue, and
the crowd grew larger. Before three blocks were passed there were
literally thousands of people marching in the wake of ingenious

The sight aroused the indignation of many respectable citizens.

"Officer," exclaimed one of these, addressing an attendant policeman, "I
thought you had orders that those females were not to parade."

"That ain't no parade," said the policeman, serenely; "them folks is
just takin' a quiet walk."

The suffragists have taken more than one quiet walk since then. Street
speaking has become an almost daily occurrence. At first there was some
rioting, or, rather, some display of rowdyism on the part of the
spectators and some show of interference from the police. The crowds
listen respectfully now, and the police are friendly.

The most practical move the New York Suffragists have made was the
organization, early in 1910, of the Woman Suffrage Party, a fusion of
nearly all the suffrage clubs in the greater city into an association
exactly along the lines of a regular political party. At the head of the
party as president is Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the
International Woman Suffrage Association. Each of the five boroughs of
the city has a chairman, and each senatorial and assembly district is
either organized or is in process of organization.

APRIL 27, 1909]

Absolutely democratic in its spirit and its organization, the party
leaders are drawn from every rank of society. The chairman of the
borough of Manhattan is Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw, wife of a prominent
Wall Street banker. Mrs. Frederick Nathan, president of the New York
State Consumers' League, is chairman of the assembly district in which
she lives. Mrs. Melvil Dewey, whose husband is head of a department at
Columbia University, is chairman of her own district. Other chairmen are
Helen Hoy Greeley, lawyer; Lavinia Dock, trained nurse; Anna Mercy, an
East Side physician; Maud Flowerton, buyer in a department store;
Gertrude Barnum, sociologist and writer. Practically every trade and
profession are represented in the party's ranks.

The object of the Woman Suffrage Party is organization for political
work. Last winter the party made the first aggressive move towards
forcing the Judiciary Committee of the Assembly to report on the bill to
give women votes by constitutional amendment. They succeeded in getting
a motion made for the discharge of the committee, sixteen legislators
voting for the women.

New York is the present center of the progressive suffrage movement,
with Chicago not very far behind.

In rather amazing fashion are women in many American communities
beginning to realize that politics are as much their business as men's.
In Salt Lake City when a city council undertakes to give away a valuable
water franchise, or extend gamblers' privileges, or otherwise follow the
example of many another city council in bending before the god of greed,
the women of Salt Lake send the word around. When the council meets the
women are in the room. They don't say anything. They don't have to say
anything. They can vote, these women. More than once the deep-laid plans
of the most powerful politicians in Salt Lake City have been completely
frustrated by a silent warning from the women. The city council has not
dared to pass grafting measures with a roomful of women looking on.

[Illustration: HELEN HOY GREELEY]

Even the non-voting woman has discovered the power which attaches to her
presence, in certain circumstances. In San Francisco during the second
Ruef trial, when the decent element of the city was fighting to down one
of the worst bosses that ever cursed a community, the women, under the
leadership of Mrs. Elizabeth Gerberding, performed this new kind of
picket duty. The courtroom where the trial was held was, by order of the
boss's attorney, packed with hired toughs whose duty it was to make a
mockery of the prosecution. Every point against the Ruef side was
received by these toughs with jeers and hootings. The district attorney
was insulted, badgered, and openly threatened with violence.

Mrs. Gerberding, whose husband is editor of a newspaper opposed to boss
rule, attended several sessions, and induced a large number of women of
social importance to attend with her. These women went daily to the
courtroom, occupying seats to the exclusion of many of the tough
characters, and by their presence doing much to preserve order and to
assist the efforts of the district attorney. When the assassin's bullet
was fired at the district attorney a number of the women were present.

Out of the horror and detestation of this crime was organized the
Women's League of Justice, which soon had a membership of five hundred.
The league fought stoutly for the reelection of Heney as district
attorney. Heney was defeated, and the league became the Women's Civic
Club of San Francisco, pledged to work for political betterment and a
clean city government.

In four States of the Union, Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, and
Oklahoma, the voters will this autumn vote for or against constitutional
amendments giving women the right to vote. It is not very probable that
the Suffragists will win in any of these States, not because the voters
are opposed to suffrage, but because they are, for the most part,
uninformed. The suffrage advocates have not yet learned enough political
wisdom to further their cause through education of the voters.

Although enormous sums of money have been spent in suffrage campaigns,
in no one has enough money been available to do the work thoroughly. In
the four States where the question is at present before the voters,
complaint is made that there is not enough money in the treasuries
properly to circulate literature.

Many of the wisest leaders in the National Woman Suffrage Association,
including Dr. Anna Shaw, Ida Husted Harper, and others, are advising an
altogether new method of conducting the struggle for the ballot. They
advocate selecting a State, possibly Nebraska, where conditions seem
uncommonly favorable, and concentrating the entire strength of the
national organization, every dollar of money in the national treasury,
all the speakers and organizers, all the literature, in a mighty effort
to give the women of that one State the ballot. The vote won in
Nebraska, the national association should pass on to the next most
favorable State and win a victory there. The moral effect of such
campaigns would no doubt be very great.

One of the principal reasons why men hesitate in this country to give
the voting power to women is that they do not know, and they rather fear
to guess, how far women would unite in forcing their own policies on the
country. If an Irish vote, or a German vote, or a Catholic vote, or a
Hebrew vote is to be dreaded, say the men, how much more of a menace
would a woman vote be. I heard a man, a delegate from an anti-suffrage
association, solemnly warn the New York State Legislature, at a suffrage
hearing, against this danger of a woman vote. "When the majority of
women and the minority of men vote together," he declared, "there will
be no such thing as personal liberty left in the United States."


Under certain conditions a woman vote is not an unthinkable contingency.
It has even occurred.

For the edification of the possible reader who is entirely uninformed,
it may be explained that women are not entirely disenfranchised in the
United States. Women vote on equal terms with men, in four States. They
have voted in Wyoming since 1869; in Colorado since 1894; in Utah and
Idaho since 1896. They vote at school elections and on certain questions
of taxation in twenty-eight States.

While it is true that in the States which have a small measure of
suffrage the women show little interest in voting, in the four so-called
suffrage States, they vote conscientiously and in about the same
proportion as men.

But here is a notable thing. The women of the suffrage States differ so
little from the women of other States, and women in general, that the
chief concerns of their lives are the home, the school, and the
baby,--the Kaiser's "Kirche, Küche, und Kinder" over again. They vote
with enthusiasm on all questions which relate to domestic interests,
that is, which directly relate to them and their children. Aside from
this, the woman vote has made a deep impression on the moral character
of candidates and that is about all it has meant. In general politics
women have counted scarcely more than have the women of other States.

But the new interest in suffrage, the new realization of themselves as
citizens that has been aroused all over the United States within the
past two years have seriously affected the women voters of at least one
suffrage State, Colorado.

The women of Colorado, especially the women of Denver, have for several
years taken an active part in legislation directly affecting themselves
and their children. The legislative committee of the Colorado State
Federation of Clubs has held regular meetings during the sessions of the
State Legislature, and it has been a regular custom to submit to that
committee for approval all bills relating to women and children. This
never seemed to the politicians to be anything very dangerous to their
interests. It was, in a manner of speaking, a chivalric acknowledgment
of women's virtue as wives and mothers.

But lately the women of Colorado have begun to wake up to the fact that
not only special legislation, but all legislation, is of direct interest
to them. It has lately dawned upon them that the matter of street
railway franchise affects the home as directly as a proposition to erect
a high school. Also it has dawned on them that without organization, and
more organization, the woman vote was more or less powerless. So, about
a year ago they formed in Denver an association of women which they
called the Public Service League. Nothing quite like it ever existed
before. It is a political but non-partisan association of women, pledged
to work for the civic betterment of Denver, pledged to fight the corrupt
politicians, determined that the city government shall be well
administered even if the women have to take over the offices themselves.
The League is, in effect, a secret society of women. It has an
inflexible rule that its proceedings are to be kept inviolable. There is
a perfect understanding that any woman who divulges one syllable of what
occurs at a meeting of the League will be instantly dropped from
membership. No woman has yet been dropped.

It may well be understood that this secret society of women, this
non-partisan league of voters, is a thing to strike terror into the
heart of a ward boss. As a matter of fact, the corrupt politicians and
the equally corrupt heads of corporations who had long held Denver in
bondage regard the Public Service League in mingled dread and
detestation. Equally as a matter of fact politicians of a better class
are anxious to enlist the good will of the League. Last summer a Denver
election involved a question of granting a twenty years' franchise to a
street railway company. Opposed to the granting of the franchise was a
newly formed citizens' party. Opposed also was the Women's Public
Service League. In gratitude for the co-operation of the League the
Citizens' Party offered a place on the electoral ticket to any woman
chosen by the League.

It was the first time in the history of Colorado that a municipal office
had been offered to a woman, and the League promptly took advantage of
it. They named as a candidate for Election Commissioner Miss Ellis
Meredith, one of the best known, best loved women in the State. As
journalist and author and club woman Miss Meredith is known far beyond
her own State, and her nomination created intense interest not only
among the women of her own city and State, but among club women

On the evening of May 3, 1910, there was a meeting held in the Broadway
Theater, Denver, the like of which no American city ever before
witnessed. It was a women's political mass meeting to endorse the
candidacy of a woman municipal official. The meeting was entirely in the
hands of women. Presiding over the immense throng was Mrs. Sarah Platt
Decker, formerly president, and still leader of the General Federation
of Women's Clubs. Beside her sat Mrs. Helen Grenfell, for thirteen years
county and State superintendent of schools, Mrs. Helen Ring Robinson,
Mrs. Martha A.B. Conine, and Miss Gail Laughlin, all women of note in
their community. The enthusiasm aroused by that meeting did not subside,
and on the day of the election Miss Meredith ran so far ahead of her
ticket that it seemed as if every woman in Denver, as well as most of
the men, had voted for her. She took her place in the Board of Election
Commissioners, and was promptly elected Chairman of the Board.

There is nothing especially attractive about the office of Election
Commissioner. In accepting the nomination Miss Meredith said frankly
that she was influenced mainly by two things: first a desire to test the
loyalty of the women voters, and second, because, while women had been
held accountable for elections which have disgraced the city of Denver,
they have never before been given a chance to manage the elections.

Nothing is more certain that women, when they become enfranchised, will
never, in any large numbers, appear as office seekers. It is probable
that office will be thrust upon the ablest of them. Mrs. Sarah Platt
Decker has been spoken of as a possible future Mayor of Denver, and it
is certain that she could be elected to Congress if she would allow
herself to be placed in nomination.

A few women have been elected to the legislatures in the suffrage
States, and they have held high office in educational departments. In
suffrage and nonsuffrage States they have been elected to many county
offices. Miss Gertrude Jordan is Treasurer of Cherry County, Nebraska.
In Idaho, Texas, Louisiana, and several other States women have filled
the same position. The State of Kansas is a true believer in women
office-holders, even though it refuses its women complete suffrage.
Women can vote in Kansas only at municipal elections, but in forty
counties men have elected women school superintendents. They are clerks
of four counties, treasurers of three, and commissioners of one. In one
county of Kansas a woman is probate judge. The good and faithful work
done by these women ought to go a long way towards educating men of
their community to the idea of political association with women.

The attitude of men towards suffrage has undergone an enormous change
within the past two years. A large number of the thinking men of the
country have openly enlisted in the Suffrage ranks. It is said that
almost every member of the faculty of Columbia University signed the
Suffrage petition presented to the Congress of 1909. Well-known
professors of many Western universities and colleges have spoken and
written in favor of equal suffrage. In New York City a flourishing
Voters' League for Equal Suffrage has been formed, with a membership
running into the hundreds.


To the average unprejudiced man the old arguments against political
equality have almost entirely lost weight. The theory that women should
not vote because they cannot fight is now rarely argued. Municipal
governments certainly no longer rest on physical force. The same is true
of state governments, and it is probably true of national governments.
At all events we are sincerely trying to make it true. For the rest it
would be extremely difficult to prove that women would make undesirable
citizens. To the anxious inquiry, What will women do with their votes?
the answer is simple. They will do with their votes precisely what they
do, or try to do, without votes. This has been proven in every country
in the world where they have received the franchise. In Australia, New
Zealand, Finland, and in the English municipalities the ideal of the
common good has been reflected in the woman vote. Social legislation
alone interests women, and so far they have confined their efforts to
matters of education, child labor, pure food, sanitation, control of
liquor traffic, and public morals. The organized non-voting women of
this country have devoted themselves for years to precisely these
objects. Without votes, without precedents, and without very much money
they instituted the playground movement, and the juvenile court
movement, two of the greatest reforms this country has contributed to
civilization. They have instituted a dozen reforms in our educational
system. They practically invented the town and village improvement idea.
They have co-operated with every social reform advocated by men, and it
is to be noted that wherever their judgment has been in error they have
conscientiously erred in favor of a wider democracy, a more exalted
social ideal.


However long-deferred Woman Suffrage may prove to be, it is pretty
generally conceded that women will inevitably vote some day. The
evolution of society will bring them into political equality with men
just as it has brought them into intellectual and industrial equality.
The first woman who followed her spinning-wheel out of her home into the
factory was the natural ancestress of the first woman who demanded the

The application of steam to machinery took women's trades out of the
home and placed them in the factory. The effect of this was that men
were confronted with a singular dilemma. They had to choose between two
courses; they had to support their women in idleness, or else they had
to allow them to leave the home and go where their trades had gone. The
first course involving the intolerable burden of doing their own and
their women's work, they were obliged to choose the second. The
jealously-guarded doors of the home were opened, and little by little,
grudgingly, the men admitted women to full industrial freedom.

Women's housekeeping, or most of it, has gradually been withdrawn from
the home and transferred to the municipality. There was a time when
women could ensure their families pure food, good milk, clean ice,
proper sanitation. They cannot do that now. The City Hall governs all
such matters. Again the men find themselves facing the old dilemma. They
must either support their women in idleness--do all their own as well as
the women's housekeeping--or they must allow their women to leave the
home and follow their housekeeping to the place where it is now being
done,--the polls.

Women are beginning to understand the situation. They are even beginning
to understand how badly the men are providing for the municipal family.
They are demanding their old housekeeping tasks back again. To this
point has the Suffrage movement, begun in 1848 by a band of women called
fanatics, arrived.



I have tried to set down in these pages the collective opinion of women,
as far as it has expressed itself through deeds. I have not succeeded if
any reader lays down the book with the impression that he has merely
been reading the story of the American club woman. I have not succeeded
at all if my readers imagine that I have been writing only about a
selected group of women. What I have meant to do is to show the
instinctive bent of the universal woman mind in all ages, reflected in
the actions of the freest group of women the world has ever seen.

I might have reanimated ages of stone and of bronze; might have shown
you women, through slow centuries, inventing the arts of spinning and
weaving, and pottery molding; learning to build, to till the earth, to
grind and to cook grains, to tan skins for clothing against the cold. No
one taught them these things. Out of their brains, as undeveloped and as
primitive as the brains of men, they would never have conceived so much
wisdom. The vague mind of the savage woman never sent her to the spider,
the nesting bird, and the burrowing squirrel to learn to weave and to
build and to store. When we find exactly what it was that taught
primitive woman how to lay the first stones of civilization, we have a
perfect philosophical understanding of all women.

I chose to interpret the woman mind through the modern American woman,
partly because she has learned the great lesson of organization, and has
thus been able to work more effectively, and to impress her will on the
community more strikingly than other women in other ages. What she has
done is apparent and easy to prove.

Also, I chose the American club woman because she represents, not an
unusually gifted type, but the average intelligent, well-educated,
energetic, wife-and-mother type of woman. The club woman is not radical,
or at least not consciously radical. She has not, like the progressive
German and Russian woman, theories of political regeneration or of
family reconstruction. What she desires, what ideals she has formed, I
think must fairly represent the desires and ideals of the great mass of
women of the twentieth century.

When we survey the activities the club women have engaged in, when we
discover why they chose exactly these activities, we have a perfect
philosophical understanding, not only of the modern woman mind, but of
the cave woman mind and all the woman mind in between.

The woman mind is the most unchangeable thing in the world. It has
turned on identically the same pivot since the present race began.
Perhaps before.

Turn back and count over the club women's achievements, the things they
have chosen to do, the things they want. Observe first of all that they
want very little for themselves. Even their political liberty they want
only because it will enable them to get other things--things needed,
directly or indirectly, by children. Most of the things are directly
needed,--playgrounds, school gardens, child-labor laws, juvenile courts,
kindergartens, pure food laws, and other visible tokens of child
concern. Many of the other things are indirectly needed by
children,--ten-hour working days, seats for shop girls, protection from
dangerous machinery, living wages, opportunities for safe and wholesome
pleasures, peace and arbitration, social purity, legal equality with
men, all objects which tend to conserve the future mothers of children.
These are the things women want.

In my introductory chapter I cited three extremely grave and significant
facts which confront modern civilization. The first was the fact of
women's growing economic freedom, their emancipation from domestic
slavery. I believe that women would not wish to be economically free if
their instinct gave them any warning that freedom for them meant danger
to their children. But no observer of social conditions can have failed
to observe the oceans of misery endured by women and children because of
their economic dependence on the fortunes of husbands and fathers.

Whatever may be the solution of poverty, whatever be the future status
of the family, it seems certain to me that some way will be devised
whereby motherhood will cease to be a privately supported profession. In
some way society will pay its own account. If producing citizens to the
State be the greatest service a woman citizen can perform, the State
will ultimately recognize the right of the woman citizen to protection
during her time of service. The first step towards solving the problem
is for women to learn to support themselves before the time comes for
them to serve the State. Through the educating process of productive
labor the woman mind may devise a means of protecting the future mothers
of the race.

The second fact, the growing prevalence of divorce, on the face of it
seems to menace the security of the home and of children. So deeply
overlain with prejudice, conventionalities, and theological traditions
is the average woman as well as the average man that it is difficult to
argue in favor of a temporary tolerance of divorce that a permanent high
standard of marriage may be established. But to my mind any state of
affairs, even a Reno state of affairs, looks more encouraging than the
old conditions under which innocent girls married to rakes and drunkards
were forbidden to escape their chains. It is not for the good of
children to be born of disease and misery and hatred. It is not for
their good to be brought up in an atmosphere of hopeless inharmony. What
is happening in this country is not a weakening of the marriage bond,
but a strengthening of it. For soon there will grow up in the American
man's mind a desire for a marriage which will be at least as equitable
as a business partnership; as fair to one party as to the other. He will
cease to regard marriage as a state of bondage for the wife and a state
of license for the husband. He will not venture to suggest to a bright
woman that cooking in his kitchen is a more honorable career than
teaching, or painting, or writing, or manufacturing. Marriage will not
mean extinction to any woman. It will mean to the well-to-do wife
freedom to do community service. It will mean to the industrial woman an
economic burden shared. When that time comes there will be no divorce
problem. There will be no longer a class of women who avoid the risk of
divorce by refusing to marry.

The third fact, the increasing popularity of woman suffrage, I disposed
of in the preceding chapter. Nothing that the women who vote have ever
done indicates, in the remotest degree, that they are not just as
mindful of children's interests at the polls as other women are in their
nurseries and kitchens.

On the contrary, wherever women have left their kitchens and nurseries,
whenever they have gone out into the world of action and of affairs,
they have increased their effectiveness as mothers. I do not mean by
this that the girl who enters a factory at fourteen and works there ten
hours a day until she marries increases her effectiveness as a mother.
Industrial slavery unfits a woman for motherhood as certainly as
intellectual and moral slavery unfits her.

Women who are free, who look on life through their own eyes, who think
their own thoughts, who live in the real world of striving, struggling,
suffering humanity, are the most effective mothers that ever lived. They
know how to care for their own children, and more than that, they know
how to care for the community's children.

The child at his mother's knee, spelling out the words of a psalm,
stands for the moral education of the race--or it used to. A group of
Chicago club women walking boldly into the city Bridewell and the Cook
County Jail and demanding that children of ten and twelve should no
longer be locked up with criminals; these same women, after the children
were segregated, establishing a school for them, and finally these same
women achieving a juvenile court, is the modern edition of the old

Woman's place is in the home. This is a platitude which no woman will
ever dissent from, provided two words are dropped out of it. Woman's
place is Home. Her task is homemaking. Her talents, as a rule, are
mainly for homemaking. But Home is not contained within the four walls
of an individual home. Home is the community. The city full of people is
the Family. The public school is the real Nursery. And badly do the Home
and the Family and the Nursery need their mother.

I dream of a community where men and women divide the work of governing
and administering, each according to his special capacities and natural
abilities. The division of labor between them will be on natural and not
conventional lines. No one will be rewarded according to sex, but
according to work performed. The city will be like a great,
well-ordered, comfortable, sanitary household. Everything will be as
clean as in a good home. Every one, as in a family, will have enough to
eat, clothes to wear, and a good bed to sleep on. There will be no
slums, no sweat shops, no sad women and children toiling in tenement
rooms. There will be no babies dying because of an impure milk supply.
There will be no "lung blocks" poisoning human beings that landlords may
pile up sordid profits. No painted girls, with hunger gnawing at their
empty stomachs, will walk in the shadows. All the family will be taken
care of, taught to take care of themselves, protected in their daily
tasks, sheltered in their homes.

The evil things in society are simply the result of half the human race,
with only half the wisdom, and not even half the moral power contained
in the race, trying to rule the world alone. Men's government rests on
force, on violence. Everything evil, everything bad, everything selfish,
is a form of violence. Poverty itself is a form of violence.

Women will not tolerate violence. They loathe waste. They cannot bear to
see illness and suffering and starvation. Alone, they are no more
capable of coping with these evils than men are. But they have the very
resources that men lack. Working with men they could accomplish

Note the inventiveness of women, most of which goes to waste because
they lack the wonderful constructive ability of men. Women invented
spinning. They could never have harnessed the lightning to their wheels.
Women established the first public playgrounds. Men extended the public
playgrounds across the country.

Women established the juvenile court. Men took it over and worked out a
new system of criminal jurisprudence for children. Women have cleaned up
a hundred cities. Men are rebuilding them. Slowly men and women are
learning to live and work together. Reluctantly men are coming to accept
women as their co-workers.

Woman's place is Home, and she must not be forbidden to dwell there. Who
would be so selfish, so blind, so reactionary, as to forbid her her
fullest freedom to do her work, must surrender opposition in the end.
For woman's work is race preservation, race improvement, and who opposes
her, or interferes with her, simply fights nature, and nature never
loses her battles.


Aberdeen, Countess of,
Addams, Jane,
Aladyn, Alexis,
Albert Hall, London,
Albion House of Refuge, N.Y.,
Aldrich, Mrs. Richard,
Allegheny, Pa.,
Allgemeinen Deutschen Frauenbund,
American, Sadie,
American Federation of Labor
American women and common law
Arthur, Mrs. Clara B.,
Association of Collegiate Alumnae,
Association of Working Girls' Clubs,
Augsberg, Anita,

Balliett, Thomas M.,
Barnum, Gertrude
Barrett, Mrs. Kate Waller,
Bedford Reformatory, N.Y.,
Belmont, Mrs. O.H.P.,
Birmingham, Ala.,
Blackwell's Island,
Blatch, Harriot Stanton,
Bluhm, Agnes,
Boston, Mass
Boston Central Labor Union,
Boswell, Helen V.,
Brandeis, Louis D.
Brewer, Justice,
Brooklyn, N.Y.,
Bullowa, Emilie,

Carlisle, Pa.,
Carnegie, Andrew,
Casey, Josephine,
Catt, Mrs. Carrie Chapman,
Cauer, Minna,
Child, Lydia Maria,
Church, the Christian, its relation to social problems,
Civic Club of Allegheny County
Civic Club of Philadelphia,
Cleveland, O.
Cliff Dwellers' remains,
Cobden Sanderson, Mrs.,
Code Napoleon
Cole, Elsie
College Settlements Association,
Colony Club,
Colorado State Federation of Clubs,
Columbia University,
Columbus, Ohio,
Common law,
Coney Island
Conine, Mrs. Martha A.B.,
Consumers' League of N.Y.,
Consumers' Leagues
Conventions of women's clubs,
Corpus Juris,
Cotton mills, women and girls in
Council of Women
Cranford, N.J.,
Cutting, Fulton,

Dallas, Tex.,
Dance halls,
Daughters of the American Revolution,
Daughters of the Confederacy,
Davis, Mrs. Jefferson,
Decker, Mrs. Sarah Platt,
Denver, Colo.,
Department stores,
Devine, Edward T.,
Dewey, Mrs. Melvil,
Dineen, Governor,
District of Columbia,
Dock, Lavinia,
Domestic service,
_Domestic Service_, Professor
Donnelly, Annie,
Dreier, Mary,
Dutcher, Elizabeth,

Eight-hour day,
Ely Bates Settlement,
Employment agencies,
Equality League of Self-Supporting Women,
European women,
Evans, Mrs. Glendower,

Fall River, Mass.
Festivals, play,
Filene system,
Flowerton, Maud,
Folks, Homer,
Franks, Salian
French Code,

Gad, Elizabeth,
General Federation of Women's Clubs,
Gerberding, Mrs. Elizabeth,
German Woman Suffrage Association,
Gillespie, Mabel,
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, her _Women and Economics_,
"Girls' Bill,"
Girls' Friendly Association,
Golden, John,
Goldmark, Josephine,
Goldmark, Pauline,
Gompers, Samuel
Grannis, Mrs. Elizabeth,
Greece, Queen of,
Greeley, Helen Hoy,
Greenbaum, Sadie,
Grenfell, Mrs. Helen,
Gulick, Luther H.,

Harper, Ida Husted,
Harrisburg, Pa.,
Henry, Alice,

Housekeepers' Alliance,
Hughes, Governor,
Hundred Years' War,

Intermunicipal Committee on Household Research,
International Council of Women,
International Woman Suffrage Alliance
Israels, Mrs. Charles M.
Janes, Elizabeth,
Jefferson Market Court,
Jordan, Gertrude,

Kellor, Frances,
Kennard, Beulah,
Kirby, John, Jr.,
Kusserow, Anna

Lafferty, Mrs. Alma,
Laidlaw, Mrs. James Lees,
Lake City, Minn.,
Laughlin, Gail,
Law, American
Legal Aid Society of N.Y. City,
Legal disabilities of women
Lemlich, Clara,
Los Angeles, Cal.,
Lowell, Mrs. Josephine Shaw,

MacLean, Annie Marian,
Maloney, Elizabeth,
Marot, Helen
Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics
McEwans, the,
Men, their attitude toward women
Mercantile Employers' Bill
Merchants' Association of N.Y.,
Mercy, Anna,
Meredith, Ellis
Milholland, Inez,
Mills, Enos,
Miner, Maude E.,
Miner, Stella,
Mitchell, John,
Moore, Mrs. Philip N.,
Morgan, Anne
Mott, Lucretia,
Muller, Curt

Napoleon Code
Nathan, Mrs. Frederick
National Civic Federation,
National Congress of Mothers,
National Manufacturers' Association
National Society of Collegiate Alumnae,
National Woman Suffrage Association
Nestor, Agnes,
New England,
New Haven, Conn.
New Jersey,
New Mexico,
New York,
New York, N.Y.,
New York Telephone Co.,
New Zealand,
Night Court. See _Jefferson Market Court_
Night work of women,
North Carolina
North Dakota,

Orange, House of,
Oregon case,
Oregon Standard,_Out of Work_, Miss Kellor's

Palisades of the Hudson,
Panama Canal,
Pankhurst, Mrs.,
Pike, Violet,
Playgrounds Association of America
Portland, Ore.,
Potter, Virginia,
Probation Association of N.Y.,
Property Law, Married Women's,
Public Service League of Denver, Colo.

_Resurrection_, Tolstoy's,
Revere Beach,
Rheinhard Commission,
Rhode Island
"Rights of Man,"
Ritchie Paper Box Manufactory,
Robins, Mrs. Raymond,
Robinson, Mrs. Helen Ring,
Rochester, N.Y., Industrial School,
Roxbury, Mass., carpet mill strike,

Sage, Mrs. Russell,
St. Louis, Mo.
Salic Law,
Salmon, Prof. Lucy Maynard
Salt Lake City,
San Francisco,
Schoenfeld, Julia,
Scranton, Pa.,
Seneca Falls convention,
Servant problem. See _Domestic Service_
Shaw, Dr. Anna,
Shirt-waist makers' strike,
Smith, "Gypsy,"
Snowden, Mrs. Philip,
Social evil,
Social purity
Socialist party
South Africa,
South Carolina,
South Chicago,
South Dakota,
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady
Stover, Charles B.,
Succession to throne by women,
Sweat shop, the

Teacher's Federation of Chicago
Ten-hour day,
Tillman case,
Tuthill, Judge R.S.,
Twentieth Century Club of Detroit,

United States Government
United States Industrial Commission,
United Textile Workers

Vassar College,
Victoria, Queen,
Voters' League for Equal Suffrage,

Wage earning, women in,
Washington (state),
Waverley House,
White, Mrs. Lovell,
"White Slave" traffic
Whitman, Charles S.,
Wilhelmina, Queen,
Windeguth, Dora
Winthrop, Mrs. Egerton,
_Woman and Economics_, Gilman's,
Woman suffrage,
Woman Suffrage Party
Woman's Christian Temperance Union,
Woman's Municipal League of N.Y.,
Women, their ideals,
  in Europe,
  in America,
  in industry,
  their fight against the social evil,
  in domestic service,
  collective opinion of,
Women's Civic Club of San Francisco,
Women's Club, of Lake City, Minn.,
  of Dallas, Tex.,
  of San Francisco,
  of Pittsburg
  of Detroit,
  of Philadelphia,
  of Harrisburg, Pa.,
  of Birmingham, Ala.,
  of Carlisle, Pa.,
  of Cranford, N.J.,
Women's Clubs
Women's Educational and Industrial Union of BostonWomen's League of Justice,
Women's Political Equality Union,
Women's Property Act,
Women's Trade Union League
Working Women's Society

Yonkers, N.Y.,
Young Women's Christian Association

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