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Monday, March 12, 2012

History Notes: Great Changes, Fat Presidents, and Girl Scouts

The 1910s was a decade of great change for America. It was during this decade that the United States was first considered a world leader. Many of the issues of 1910 are ones we face today: including the escalation of immigration and poverty, labor and monopoly battles, work safety and child labor problems. World War I - the first 'war to end all wars' raged. The 1910s were the decade America came of age. ~Peggy Whitley, Lonestar College

One of the “great changes” during this time was that of the American Woman. She had had enough. As early as 1840, women started taking a stand on issues important to them. The right to vote and the right to own property; the right to make wages the same as their husbands and the right to establish their own businesses; and the right to sue and the right to divorce their husbands on the same grounds as men could divorce their wives.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the working-class women’s movement became more connected to the suffrage movement. During this time period, women workers initiated many important strikes. In 1909-1910, over 20,000 shirtwaist workers struck in New York and Philadelphia, in what was called the “Rising of 20,000.” They were supported by the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL), an organization which united working-class women and middle- and upper- class women in an effort to win the vote, and secure better wages and working conditions for women. ~National Women's History Museum

Molly Make-Believe, written by Elizabeth Hallowell Abbott, was published in 1910. Here’s a quick peek at some other important changes in our country during that time: 

From 1909-1913, William Howard Taft was president. He had graduated from Yale and much preferred to practice law and aspired to become a Supreme Court Judge, but his wife, Helen Herron Taft wanted him to be president.

We were only four short years from World War I changing the lives of all Americans whether they were the head of the household fighting for our county or the wives having to go to work outside the home for the first time to keep food on the table and clothing on their children. With World War I coming, fashion went from elaborate to practical. With the head of the household heading off to war, many women were forced to find work to support their family.

The average salary was only $750/year.

Compare that with the average salary in 2010:  $41,673/year

2012 marks the 100th anniversary of one of America’s most talked about tragedies. The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912 taking with it 1,514 of the 2,453 passengers on board.

The Girl Scouts of America were founded by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. According to the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, “She set high ideals for the world and for her fellow women. During a time when women were restrained by society, Juliette Gordon Low set a precedent for young women to follow even today.” 

And so with all the “great changes” going on around us during the 1910s, slipping into such a sweet and simple love story, such as Molly Make-Believe would have been a welcome escape. Believing that love could cure all would definitely put a little bit of sunshine in a time of great adjustment for everyone.

POSTED BY:  Claire Cole

Molly Make-Believe by Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
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