Maternalism and World War I Mobilization
This chapter examines women's voluntary associations' role in mobilization. It examining the Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the National Association of Colored Women, and the American Red Cross, it analyzes the way in which women activists conjoined the war emergency to their own goals of staking their claim to full citizenship, and continuing their reform agendas begun in the Progressive reform era. As they did so, white women invoked “maternalism” and emphasized the instrumental role that women played in protecting the family. African American activists similarly focused on the centrality of women citizens, but did so in the specific context of racial uplift. Their engagement in meaningful war work encouraged them to view the war – over optimistically as it turned out – as an opportunity to achieve both long-standing reform goals and an enhanced role for women in public life.
Keywords: voluntary associations and war, Progressive reform era, maternalism and reform, war, reform, and racial uplift, Women's Committee of the Council of National Defense, Young Women's Christian Association, Woman's Christian Temperance Union, National Association of Colored Women, American Red Cross
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