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About the First Wave
First Wave Feminism From Feminist Philosophies A-Z
A term that came into use in the late 1960s feminist movement (the second wave) to refer to activist women in the UK and US during the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who were seeking the right for women to vote, to higher education, to birth control, to employment rights, to married women’s property rights and to equitable marriage laws.
Issues of the First Wave
Women's Suffrage: Topic
The right of women to vote; Throughout the latter part of the 19th cent. the issue of women's voting rights was an important phase of feminism.
Achievements of the First Wave
Married Women's Property Acts (United States)
From From Suffrage to the Senate: America's Political Women
Until the passage of married women’s property acts in the mid–nineteenth century, marriage essentially resulted in a woman’s civil death, which included the denial of her right to own property. The acts, however, fueled the debate on women's rights.
Married Women's Property Acts (Great Britian)
From The Oxford Companion to British History
Prior to these a woman's property became her husband's upon marriage. Reformers sought the same rights for married women over their property as those enjoyed by men and unmarried women. Whilst recognizing the principle that, in certain circumstances, women should retain and control their own property, the 1870 Act was regarded as a ‘feeble compromise’ and the Married Women's Property Committee pressed for greater reform. The 1882 Act, allowing wives to acquire, hold, use, and dispose of their separate property, with recourse to the same legal protection as if unmarried, was a major victory.
The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution
From Encyclopedia of Gender and Society
The Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted women’s suffrage in 1920 by stipulating that the right to vote could not be denied on the basis of sex.
Leaders and Activists of the First Wave
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906): Topic
Undoubtedly one of the most forceful pioneers of women’s suffrage in the United States, Anthony never gave up hope of winning.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902): Topic
Women’s rights leader and feminist pioneer; She was drawn to the abolitionist, temperance, and women’s rights movements through visits to the home of her cousin, the reformer Gerrit Smith.
Lucy Stone (1818-1893): Topic
Abolitionist and women’s rights activist. At age 25 she finally was able to enter Oberlin College (Ohio), and when she graduated (1847) she was the first Massachusetts woman to have earned a college degree. In 1850 she was a leader in calling a women’s rights convention in Worcester, MA, and her speech there both won over Susan B. Anthony to the cause and inspired John Stuart Mill to write ‘The Enfranchisement of Woman’.
Olympia Brown (1835-1926)
from Chambers Biographical Dictionary
US Universalist minister and woman's suffragist
Frances Willard (1839-1898): Topic
Undoubtedly the dominating presence in the WCTU, Willard devoted her considerable energies to women’s education and suffrage and protective measures for working women.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941): Topic
Her essay A Room of One's Own (1929) has become a feminist classic.