Between 1890 and 1945, American women participated in a broad spectrum of political and social movements. These movements ranged from the struggle for racial justice through the labor movement to campaigns for social welfare. Some women participated in these social justice movements by organizing their power as consumers to create jobs, improve working conditions, and support organized labor. This lecture will analyze several of these consumer-organizing initiatives and their outcomes. In particular, the lecture will explore the emergence and early history of the National Consumers’ League, a middle-class, woman-led organization devoted to the well-being of industrial workers; the organization of working-class women on behalf of union-made products; and the Don’t-Buy-Where-You-Can’t-Work campaign organized in the 1930s by African American women determined to open jobs to young black Americans.
Guest lecturer: Robyn Muncy, Professor of History, University of Maryland, College Park