the 1910s Promise and Peril
by Jo Allison
The 1910s were promising and perilous years in America and across the world. Many pages on this site deal with St. Louis, Missouri, a city representative of all the 1910s had to offer—and the setting of many of my novels.
St. Louis Women
We look back and say this was the era of a new woman, the woman who was changing fashion by rejecting corsets, changing the workplace by specializing in typing and other new skills, changing to the political scene by agitating for the vote. And, there were new women in St. Louis. The St. Louis Equal Suffrage League was started—or revived actually—in 1910. The YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) was led by society women; the organization actually taught typing to working class women and then the society women went out found them jobs. But, the fact is that most St. Louis women stayed within what was called “women’s sphere.” Most of them kept house, certainly after they were married. More unmarried young women piled into workplaces, but that didn’t mean they were new women. They simply took the opportunity of limited pay to help out their families or provide their own spending money before marriage.
You can find here a link to an article entitled “The Economic Lives of Disenfranchised Women in St. Louis.” The disenfranchised part refers, of course, to the fact that women couldn’t vote in 1910. But the article offers lots of data on what women did in St. Louis. It also provides profiles of several new women, ones who challenged St. Louis society to change.
The Economic Lives of Disenfranchised Women: St. Louis, 1910-1919