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Minnie Fisher CunninghamA Suffragist's Life in Politics$
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Judith N. McArthur and Harold L. Smith

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304862

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304862.001.0001

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The Rise Of A Public Woman

The Rise Of A Public Woman

Chapter:
(p.24) 2 The Rise Of A Public Woman
Source:
Minnie Fisher Cunningham
Author(s):

Judith N. McArthur

Harold L. Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304862.003.0003

This chapter situates Minnie Fisher Cunningham in the voluntary association culture of the Progressive Era, and traces her emergence as an activist and social reformer in Galveston in the 1910s. Through voluntary associations such as women's clubs and civic organizations, Cunningham and other urban middle-class women invented new roles for themselves as child welfare advocates and municipal housekeepers. Defining the city as an extension of the home and using maternalist rhetoric to deflect male criticism, they shaped a female public culture that was the precondition for the emergence of a broad-based woman suffrage movement. Cunningham followed the path from clubwoman and civic activist to suffragist, serving as president of the Galveston Equal Suffrage Association, and as a travelling organizer for the state suffrage association, which elected her as president in 1915.

Keywords:   voluntary associations, women's clubs, Progressive Era, social reform, child welfare, municipal housekeeping, maternalism, woman suffrage

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