Saturday, March 23, 2019

Women's Hystery, 1919

It's Sisterhoodback Saturday! Since I resurrected some cartoons from 1919 for African-American History Month in February, it's only fair to do the same for Women's History Month in March.
"Far Reaching Effects of This War" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Journal, March 15, 1919 
By March of 1919, U.S. soldiers were coming home to find their wives and girlfriends had taken their place in the workforce. Such would be entirely normal in a rural, agrarian setting, but was novel to the urban factory and service worker.
"Corporal Jones..." by William C. Morris for Matthew Adams Syndicate, by March 18, 1919
Cartoonists pressed a social expectation that the soldiers who had left productive jobs to serve in the military ought to be rehired for those same jobs when they returned home, whether those jobs had been filled in the meantime by women or by men. No doubt some women were content to go back to housework, but others discovered that they had a knack for business outside the home.
"Follies of the Passing Show" by Charles D. Mitchell in Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, by March 28, 1919
The 1920 census found 8.3 million women still in the workforce.
The figures show that women’s work was, on the whole, segregated in familiar sectors: clerks, bookkeepers, stenographers, laundresses, waitresses. “Professional” women were most often schoolteachers. Most of the women working in “transportation” were telephone operators. (In the 1920 Census, there was no separate occupational category for communications workers. Telephone and telegraph workers were classified as part of “Transportation,” because of telegraphy’s early relationship with railroads.)
Let us not forget that women, too, served in the Great War. They were nurses, medics, switchboard operators and ammunition workers; and, unlike in previous generations, they served in uniform.
"Off With That Uniform..." by Robert Lemen in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ca. March, 1919
So if women's roles were changing thanks to the war, what about the suffragettes?

Having passed the House, and in spite of President Wilson having come around on the issue, the 19th Amendment to guarantee women the vote fell one vote short of the required two-thirds majority in the Senate on February 10, 1919.
"The Cold Stove" by William Hanny in St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, February 11, 1919
Two days later, on the other hand, the Wisconsin legislature passed its own version of women's suffrage by veto-proof majorities, joining a growing number of states already allowing women to vote in local and primary elections.

From what I've seen, however, American editorial cartoonists at that moment in history were preoccupied with the peace negotiations in Paris, the new tax bill, and the spread of Bolshevism from Russia to Hungary, Germany, and the U.S. labor movement. (Oh, so many cartoons decrying the Bolshevik menace!) William Hanny's cartoon is the only one I've found about the February defeat of the women's suffrage amendment.*

So, in the absence of any other cartoons on the amendment's latest failure, here's one more cartoon about those hobble skirts.
"Any Where, Any Time!" by C.J. Hopp in Cartoons Magazine, Chicago, June, 1919
* P.S.: If I had just kept looking a little further before posting this, I would have found Bill Sykes's cartoon pointing out that the League of Nations was more forward thinking than the U.S. Senate:
"What Would George Washington Say!" by William Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 28, 1919

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