by Jan Wilson
University of Illinois Press, 2006
Cloth: 978-0-252-03167-0 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09291-6
Library of Congress Classification HQ1236.5.U6W56 2007
Dewey Decimal Classification 331.31097309042

The rise and fall of a feminist reform powerhouse

Jan Doolittle Wilson offers the first comprehensive history of the umbrella organization founded by former suffrage leaders in order to coordinate activities around women's reform. Encompassing nearly every major national women's organization of its time, the Women's Joint Congressional Committee (WJCC) evolved into a powerful lobbying force for the legislative agendas of more than twelve million women. Critics and supporters alike came to recognize it as "the most powerful lobby in Washington." 

Examining the WJCC's most consequential and contentious campaigns, Wilson traces how the group's strategies, rhetoric, and success generated congressional and grassroots support for their far-reaching, progressive reforms. But the committee's early achievements sparked a reaction by big business that challenged and ultimately limited the programs these women envisioned. Using the WJCC as a lens, Wilson analyzes women's political culture during the 1920s. She also sheds new light on the initially successful ways women lobbied for social legislation, the limitations of that process for pursuing class-based reforms, and the enormous difficulties the women soon faced in trying to expand public responsibility for social welfare.

A volume in the series Women in American History, edited by Anne Firor Scott, Susan Armitage, Susan K. Cahn, and Deborah Gray White