American Women!
A Celebration of Our History
April 22 -- October 29, 2000

Social Reformer


"The only cure for the ills of Democracy is more Democracy."

Suffragette and Pacifist


"This world taught woman nothing skillful and then said her work was valueless. It permitted her no opinions and said she did not know how to think."


Jane Addams and Carrie Chapman Catt lived in the Midwest, but both women reached millions of people across the country and around the world. They were champions of the oppressed and worked for women's rights and social change for more than half a century.

Addams came from the wealthy side of town, but was raised to value individual rights and community responsibility. Those values led to her founding of Hull House, a community center for the poor and downtrodden. She went on to spearhead improvements in municipal sanitation, playgrounds, schools and the juvenile court system in Chicago. Prior to World War I--when her pacifist beliefs destroyed her popularity--she was the most famous woman in the United States.

Carrie Lane grew up in Charles City, Iowa, and later worked as a dishwasher for nine cents an hour in order to stay in college at Ames. After being widowed from her marriage to Leo Chapman, Carrie organized for women's rights in Iowa, and in 1890 married George W. Catt when he agreed that four months a year she would campaign for suffrage. In the second generation of the sisterhood of suffragettes under Catt's leadership, the National American Woman's Suffrage Association finally celebrated the great victory of August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.

Addams and Catt stood up to injustice. In their own ways, they made this country more accountable for the principles of democratic government.

Historic Artifacts:

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE MEDAL awarded to Jane Addams; this facsimile was produced by the Smithsonian Institution
SHEET MUSIC, "A House Stands on a Busy Street," words by Jane Addams
PLASTER BUST of Addams created by Lee Lawrie
-- On loan from Swarthmore College Peace Collection, McCabe Library, Swarthmore PA

CHIFFON DRESS with ivory lace, handmade for Carrie Chapman Catt in the 1920s
BLUE SATIN PURSE carried by Catt
CARRIE CHAPMAN CATT, A PUBLIC LIFE, by Jacqueline Van Voris, 1987, paperback printed in 1996
CARRIE CATT, FEMINIST POLITICIAN, by Robert Booth Fowler, 1986
PHOTO of Carrie at the age of 6 when her family moved to Charles City, Iowa.
PORTRAIT of Catt c. 1920
-- On loan from the National 19th Amendment Society, Charles City, Iowa Catt's childhood home is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is being restored as a women's suffrage museum and center for the study of contemporary issues.

PETITION to the House of Representatives from Carrie Chapman Catt, Committee on Suffrage
-- On loan from the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives / National Archives, Washington D.C.

LETTER (facsimile) written by Carrie Chapman Catt discussing ways of pushing for women's rights
-- On loan from Smith College, Sophia Smith Collection, Northampton MA

Return to the "From Prairie to Polls, 1870-1920" index page
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or visit:
  From Colony to Country, 1600-1800 From Fifties to Feminism, 1950-1990
  From Growth to Civil War, 1800-1870 Into the 21st Century, 1990 onward
"red arrow" View an alphabetical list of all 106 women included in American Women! with links to photos and biographies for selected women
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