Primary Source Assignment

Primary Source Assignment Words: 2367

In my point of view, history portrays the past. While reading a American history book, people would only focus on the essential events that trigger their emotions; however, they should recognize the American history are dominated by three elements- race, class, and gender. In the rest of the assignment, I would use several primary sources documents to analyze how gender had made a big impact in the American history.

It would signify the hardships that women endured in different period of time which began with women proclaimed the right to vote; next, young girls opened to the environment and worked in urban areas; then, the success of women suffrage; lastly, losing their own identity. From the early 1800s, the role of women was perceived as a subordinate to their husbands. After a long term oppression and lack of respect by the public, women thought they should make an appeal to restore their rights back. Declaration of Sentiments was signed among a group of female activists in Seneca Falls in New York on July 19, 1848.

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The document had been the first document that women claimed their right to vote in American history which could be divided into three sections where stated the reasons of going rights of women, statements of how men had abused women’s rights, and the resolutions. The last two pages were the script of a speech given by Elizabeth Stanton in the meeting to discuss why women should stand up to proclaim their rights. It has set to be a significant moment to all American women where this document signifies the first action of women suffrage and awaked the public that the rights of women should be granted.

The women participated in this function pointed out several reasons of why public needed to grant women’s rights. According to Declaration of Sentiments, it states “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal” (2). As all men and women are created equal and men are given the right to vote, women should have the right of it as well. It also indicates how men severely had abused women’s rights “He has compelled her to submit to laws in the formation of which she had no voice. He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men, both natives and foreigners.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns” (Declaration of Sentiments 3). Obviously, men did not treat women as human beings which women were always being ignored in the public. The Declaration of Sentiments was not written by one person but by the effort of a group of women who advocated women rights where some of them were popular activists, for instance, Catharine Beecher, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony. Furthermore, there were men involved in the writing who were the supporters of Abolitionists, for instance, Frederick Douglas.

The reason why they were full of passion on granting women’s rights is “only to be turned away by the men who controlled the proceedings. Angered at the rejection” (The Unfinished Nation 188). In 1840, they attended a convention about anti-slavery where they rejected by the men in the convention. Afterward, they all agreed that before they were given a chance to participate in the convention, they needed to grant their own rights first. Thus, they had this Seneca fall convention in New York. The movement of women suffrage continued until 1920 when women rights were officially proclaimed by the government.

Without their passion and determination, women nowadays might not have equal rights as men. When people no longer found that farming as profitable as having a job in urban city and factories were in need large amount of unskilled workers, women went to get a job in the textile factories. The primary source document, Factory Girl’s Garland, is a newspaper especially selling to young girls who worked in the factories in the late 1800s. As most of them worked diligently, they would return to farms and get married with earning a sufficient amount of money after working for several years.

The newspaper contained four pages with several different sections, but I realize the topic of each section is basically involved with the idea of hopes, marriages, faiths, and vision. These ideas were repetitive throughout the newspaper where hopes not only was set as the main idea of one of the stories but also appeared to be the theme of one of the poems. These ideas reminded the young girls who were separated from their families needed to have faith on their future and not to be discouraged. In some of the sections, it had created an atmosphere of fantasy, romance, and homesick.

Two sections that I seem to be funny are tips on how to look for a good husband and poems on marriage as well. Also, they introduced an album about friendship and love to the workers which they listed the lyrics on the newspaper. The newspaper could be treated as a way for young girls to gain a perception of the world as some of the stories were from other countries; at the same, it could be perceived as a encouragement due to they were on their own in a urban city. Also, the newspaper showed a sense of transition of people on making a living had shifted from farming to working in factories.

I have noticed that factories were in need of many unskilled girls because the newspaper had posted an advertisement where factories were willing to pay for half year salary in advance. In my point of view, the newspaper has provided a sense of fantasy to the young girls. On the first story, the Vision, it summarizes how a married woman planned to raised her daughters. She’s a pretty woman where her two daughters inherited her beauty. Everyday, she worked in front of the mill and thought she had to give the best education to her children under limited amount of money.

When she died, she asked her husband to take her two daughters to England and resided there at least a year. Her husband wondered why she got this idea; thus, he went to England to discover her intention. By the end of the story, her two beautiful daughters married two renowned men in England. Her husband understood what his wife’s intention is- High education could help the daughters to elevate their social position in the society; once, the daughters could get into the upper class society, the mother was confident that their beauty could help them to attract wealthy men in big city England.

This story inspired young girls that even though these two girls were from “humble Irish family”, they still could have good fortune. The story ended with the quote that gets my attention “truth is often times stranger than fiction” (Factory Girl’s Garland 1). Young girls just needed to have faith, one day they could unexpectedly become those two girls. In the next page, they reported news which caught the readers’ attention there was a wage cut in the factory, Lowell. Lowell had a reputation on providing good welfare for their workers.

The Unfinished Nation states that “Lowell workers lived in clean boardinghouses and dormitories, which the factory owners were relatively generous by the standards of the time” (155). However, the workers were mad and frustrated since their working hours remained the same. The newspaper wrote that “the only way to guard against this evil is indignantly repel every effort at a reduction of wage” (Factory Girl’s Garland 3). Later on, one of the workers stepped out and formed the first women labor union, the Factory Girls Association.

The first action of this association was to have a revolt for the twenty five percent wage cut; regardless the strike was a failure, it was the first time in history women stepped forward to protect their privileges. It had initiated the people to establish labor union where some of the famous labor unions were formed. The movement of women suffrage continued for a long time as the feminists had to overcome many obstacles; eventually, the goal was achieved in 1920. The document, Election Day! , depicts a woman was ready to go to vote on the election day.

It signifies the victory of granting the right to vote of women. The cartoon depicts a couple where the wife was prepared to leave the house and went to vote. She wore a long dress with boots and carried an umbrella along with her. The picture took place in the kitchen of a house. The wife is standing next to the table; whereas, the husband was carrying two infants and sitting on a chair next to a burning kettle. There was a banner stick on the wall which it says votes for women. In the picture, he was looking up to his wife which indicates to me he was begging his wife not to leave.

At the bottom of the picture, the two words written in big font, Election Day. The men was worried about the proclamation of right to vote would led to a role reversed where the men took the role of women, vice versa. The picture portrays the men were taking care of the children which it was mainly the women’s job. Women were being the role of men which leaving home to vote. Besides that, once the right was granted, it elevated the social positioning of women that men were most afraid of.

Due to a well-organized association, The National American Women Suffrage Association efficiently aided the members to solve obstacles; finally, their efforts were paid back which they received the right to vote. The suffrage got the victory by “won ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed political rights to women throughout the nation” (The Unfinished Nation 335). But to some activists, the amendment did not thoroughly provide all the women’s rights. The triumph of this movement had to be recognized as it involved many efforts from the activists.

During 1950 and 1960, the most essential role of women was to provide childrearing to children and take good care of her husband, but never anyone thought of why they need to perform these kind of duties. The document, Friedan’s Mystique, was one of the chapters from the book, The Feminine Mystique, which became one of the most influential notification books in the twentieth century. The author researched how the society shaped women to play the role of fulfilling their husbands and children; at the same time, the education led them to have heir own way of thinking and abhor their life being fully devoted to family. It means a lot to the women because most of them did not realize that they were the victims of being shaped to please their husbands and children. Friedan has been successfully announced to the public where women inflicted with the role that society given to them. Friedan interviewed with women where she found that “this mystique of feminine fulfillment became the cherished and self-perpetuating core of contemporary American culture” (The Feminine Mystique). It was sad women could not achieve what they want.

Besides that, it indicates the society had inspired them to have an idea where “Their only dream was to be perfect wives and mothers; their highest ambition to have five children and a beautiful house, their only fight to get and keep their husbands” (The Feminine Mystique). Their lives were just dominant by their family members, so the only topic that they had with their friends was husband and children. Moreover, the feminine mystique got worse as the level of education that women received “more and more women had education, which naturally made them unhappy in their role as housewives” (The Feminine Mystique).

Women were unable to apply what they had learned in school onto house work. The chapter gives an example where a woman who good at writing always wrote poems; whereas, being a housewife, she wrote essays to the milkman for the bottles of milk she wanted to order. From the previous example, it seems to me that Friedan tried to use satire on portraying the sadness of women. The uneasiness of women had made them to become depress and some of them went for psychiatrists.

However, the psychiatrists found out they did not have any problem, but just they were unable to accept the identity that were given to them. According to After the Fact, women under the feminine mystique inflicted a lot of pressure as “The increase in alcohol abuse, divorce, and juvenile delinquency all suggested a weakening in family structure. Observers were quick to blame those problems on one cause- maternal neglect” (353). Anything went wrong in the family would be blamed on women because the society perceived they were not doing their job rightfully.

Thus, women’s mood was massively influenced and stress created. After The Feminine Mystique was published, John Kennedy drew the nation’s attention to the issue of sexual discrimination where women were always perceived as subordinate to their husbands and children. Without his effort, women might still following what the society had shaped them, fulfilling husband and children. After analyzing the primary source documents which all of them are involved with gender, one cannot doubt the gender is one of the essential characters in American history.

On the other hand, the documents have proved all the hardship that women had overcome cannot be omit from the American history. Citation “The Factory Girl’s Garland: Devoted to the Interests of the New England Factory Operatives,” 1:19 (Exeter, NH, 14 September 1844). Courtesy of Special Collections, Dimond Library, University of New Hampshire. E. W. Gustin. “Election Day! ” c1909. Part of By Popular Demand: “Votes for Women” Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920 at the Library of Congress. ID: LC-USZ62-51821 DLC.

Anthony, Susan B. , Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, and Gage, Matilda Joslyn, eds. , History of Woman Suffrage (1889). National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, Library of Congress, Call Number: HQ1403 . W6 1848. Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: Dell Publishing, 1963, p15 -32. Reprinted with permission from Betty Friedan. Brinkley, Alan. The Unfinished Nation. New York: Mc–Grill Hall, 2005. Davidson, James, and Lytle, Mark. After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection. New York: Mc-Grill Hall, 2005.

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