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Civil War, Reconstruction, and Progressivism Archives - Social Welfare History Project

The Women Who Went to the Field

 

Editor’s Note: Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross) wrote the following poem as a toast to women who served in the Civil War. It was first presented at a gala dinner held in 1892 by the Women’s Relief Corps and was later printed […]

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Springfield Race Riot of 1908

On February 23, 2016 By

On the evening of August 14, 1908, a race war broke out in the Illinois capital of Springfield. Angry over reports that a black man had sexually assaulted a white woman, a white mob wanted to take a recently arrested suspect from the city jail and kill him….In the early hours of the violence, as many as five thousand white Springfield residents were present, mostly as spectators. Still angry, the rioters minus most of the spectators next methodically destroyed a small black business district downtown, breaking windows and doors, stealing or destroying merchandise, and wrecking furniture and equipment. The mob’s third and last effort that night was to destroy a nearby poor black neighborhood called the Badlands. Most blacks had fled the city, but as the mob swept through the area, they captured and lynched a black barber, Scott Burton, who had stayed behind to protect his home.

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Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

On December 9, 2015 By

The Plessy decision legitimized segregation practices begun earlier in the South and provided a legal framework for additional segregation laws throughout the rest of the nation. As a consequence of the Plessy decision, many of the rights blacks won at both the state and federal level during the Reconstruction Era were erased through means of the “separate but equal” doctrine. Despite the Supreme Court’s faith in “separate but equal,” Southern state governments refused to provide blacks with genuinely equal facilities and resources in the decades following the Plessy decision.

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Civil Rights Act of 1875

On December 9, 2015 By

The bill became law on March 1, 1875. The new law required: “That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.”

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Bly, Nellie (1864-1922)

On November 25, 2015 By

The year was eighteen eighty-seven. The place was New York City. A young woman, Elizabeth Cochrane, wanted a job at a large newspaper. The editor agreed, if she would investigate a hospital for people who were mentally sick and then write about it. She decided to become a patient in the hospital herself. She used the name Nellie Brown so no one would discover her or her purpose. Newspaper officials said they would get her released after a while.

To prepare, Nellie put on old clothes and stopped washing. She went to a temporary home for women. She acted as if she had severe mental problems. She cried and screamed and stayed awake all night. The police were called. She was examined by doctors. Most said she was insane.

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Mary Livermore was born on December 19, 1820, in Boston, Massachusetts. She was an American suffragist and social reformer who lectured and wrote for religious and reform periodicals. She served as president of the American Woman Suffrage Association, the Association for the Advancement of Women and the Massachusetts Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Livermore died in 1905.

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Barrett, Janie Porter (1865 – 1948)

On September 18, 2015 By

Rather than settle for a comfortable life as a middle-class wife, Janie Porter Barrett devoted herself to social service work. The first major product of her early career was to create the Locust Street Social Settlement in 1890. The Locust Street Settlement was operated out of her home until her prominent husband, helped Barrett build a separate settlement facility in 1902. Locus Street settlement was the first of its kind in Virginia and the first social settlement for black people in the United States. Locust Street House was modeled on Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago.

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Before ascending to the office of governor, Pinchback had run for both a U.S Senate seat and a seat in the U.S. Congress simultaneously in 1872. He won both contests but was barred from taking his congressional post when his opponent contested the election and was awarded the position. Pinchback was denied his seat in the senate as well as a result of charges of election fraud.

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By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers. Black women, who could not formally join the Army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts, the most famous being Harriet Tubman, who scouted for the 2d South Carolina Volunteers.

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As household production by women declined and the traditional economic role of women diminished, the “home” appeared as a topic to be discussed and an ideal to be lauded. Less a place of production than a spiritually sanctified retreat from the hurly-burly of economic life, the home was where women nurtured men and children into becoming morally elevated beings. It could be said that what we think of as the traditional “home” was actually an invention of nineteenth-century Americans.

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