Were women the property of men prior to 1919 in the UK?

Were women the property of men prior to 1919 in the UK?

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It was suggested in a TV interview that I saw that prior to 1919 in the UK, women were owned by men. An example to solidify this, was women taking on their husbands last name.

My question is:

  1. Were women not been able to own property, mean that they were in fact, property themselves? As in, they could not own land, but could they just not leave their husband and go back to their families if they wished?
  2. Was it not the case that people who owned land in general, were the aristocracy? Meaning that the vast majority of both men and women in the UK did not have land to own? (Similar to the TV show Poldark and Jane Austen novels.)

The video in question is a thirteen minute excerpt from the interview of Jordan Peterson recently by Helen Lewis.

  • 0:48: Lewis states:

    You had a system where one set of people owned another set of people. Until women got full legal rights, [where] they could own property themselves, [and] they could work, essentially they were owned by their fathers and then by their husbands.

No. Slavery was abolished in 1833 in England. Prior to 1919 women were not property. Not having equal rights doesn't automatically mean slavery.

Neither is a woman taking the family name of her husband a sign of slavery. It was (and is) a normal custom that only recently (about 40-30 years ago) changed. It actually is the default, even today, with good reasons for it.

You're looking at history from a very modern/progressive viewpoint. That rarely works.

If you consider the wording carefully:

Until women got full legal rights, [where] they could own property themselves, [and] they could work, essentially they were owned by their fathers and then by their husbands.

Then in becomes clear that the person making this statement spoke just figuratively. Which is not verboten and essentially a common way to criticise the patriarchy entrenched in many European systems of law for quite a time.

Only in this case the historicity is a bit off, focusing on just one aspect, and emphasising other important steps in the course of women regaining rights. For just one example:

Married Women's Property Act 1882 The Married Women's Property Act 1882 (45 & 46 Vict. c.75) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that significantly altered English law regarding the property rights of married women, which besides other matters allowed married women to own and control property in their own right.

A system that might be called patriarchy was the norm in European societies, at least up until the 20th century.

Patriarchy is a social system in which males hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. Some patriarchal societies are also patrilineal, meaning that property and title are inherited by the male lineage.

We take note of how well both sides in that discussion in the video manage to talk past each other. Peterson seems to define patriarchy as "the persecution of women", and consequently decorates this straw man with a lot of adjectives that promote an opinionated value judgement. Lewis counters this with pointedly comparing the societal and legal situation of women with "property", without presenting a proper definition for that, just some closely related examples as evidence.

As we have at least a language and philosophy disagreement apparent regarding that word and the question as posed and clarified in comments, the most mainstream definitions to look at for this kind of question, the desired timeframe of up to 1919 and centring around English law will be the concept of coverture:

Coverture (sometimes spelled couverture) was a legal doctrine whereby, upon marriage, a woman's legal rights and obligations were subsumed by those of her husband, in accordance with the wife's legal status of feme covert. An unmarried woman, a feme sole, had the right to own property and make contracts in her own name. Coverture arises from the legal fiction that a husband and wife are one person. Coverture was enshrined in the common law of England for several centuries and throughout most of the 19th century, influencing some other common-law jurisdictions. According to Arianne Chernock, coverture did not apply in Scotland, but whether it applied in Wales is unclear.
After the rise of the women's rights movement in the mid-19th century, coverture came under increasing criticism as oppressive towards women, hindering them from exercising ordinary property rights and entering professions. Coverture was first substantially modified by late 19th century Married Women's Property Acts passed in various common-law legal jurisdictions, and was weakened and eventually eliminated by subsequent reforms. Certain aspects of coverture (mainly concerned with preventing a wife from unilaterally incurring major financial obligations for which her husband would be liable) survived as late as the 1960s in some states of the United States.

To be even more explicit:

By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage,
Sir William Blackstone: "Commentaries On The Laws Of England (1765-1769)", Book 1, Chapter 15O: Of Husband And Wife

That would be in simple English:

Coverture holds that a man and a woman are a single legal entity-that of the husband. A married woman loses her own legal obligations and rights, and becomes "covered" by her husband. Traditionally a woman took her husband's last name as a symbol of this identity. A female child was covered by her father's identity. When she married that coverage transferred to her husband. Under this system a woman did not legally exist and did not own anything. Wikipedia: Coverture compare to Catherine Allgor. "Coverture - The Word You Probably Don't Know But Should". National Women's History Museum.

That does not even cover that some men did consider and treat their women as property, without much legal repercussions, quite long after 1919.

So whatever the reasons for these laws and customs to exist or to have existed, and whether or not there were explicit laws that stated something like "women are the property of men" it is essentially one possible way to put it: that women were in effect like property of a husband or father.

From another source: https://www.reddit.com/r/JordanPeterson/comments/9tsidj/gq_interview_were_women_mens_property_prior_to/e8ywxfl

Prior to the 1830s (it's been a while so I'm fuzzy) women could vote. The stipulation was land ownership worth/generating £10 a year. Obviously far more men voted but there are plenty of British instances of women voting as of the establishment of parliament as we know it in the 1300s. As the top comment states, the husband acquired the wife's property upon marriage, keeping the number of women enfranchised to a minimum.

As to the question: HA! No. Not as a collective. Men could own slaves, but then so could women, so technically "men" could own "women" but definitely not in the sense the question is framed.


Statutes passed in 1430 and 1432, during the reign of Henry VI, standardised property qualifications for county voters. Under these Acts, all owners of freehold property or land worth at least forty shillings in a particular county were entitled to vote in that county. This requirement, known as the forty shilling freehold, was never adjusted for inflation; thus the amount of land one had to own in order to vote gradually diminished over time.[8] The franchise was restricted to males by custom rather than statute;[9] on rare occasions women had been able to vote in parliamentary elections as a result of property ownership.

2018 marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act. This Act widened suffrage at general elections by removing nearly all of the property qualifications for men and enfranchising women over the age of 30 who met minimum property qualifications. The Act was seen as a victory, at least in part, for the suffragists and suffragettes, despite the fact that men and women were still not treated equally at the ballot box this disparity was not corrected until 1928. However, when women went to vote in the General Election of December 1918, it was not the first time that women had been active in an election.

Some women had been taking part in local government elections since the late nineteenth century. The Municipal Franchise Act of 1869 meant that unmarried women who were ratepayers could vote in local elections, and extended to some married women in the Local Government Act of 1894. Women had also been active in general elections before the twentieth century too. Traditionally, the right to vote in an election was only granted to those who held property above a certain value.

We can't believe these shockingly sexist laws existed in the UK

Today marks the 100 year anniversary of some women being given the right to vote. But what other sexist legislation has the UK abolished in the last century?

While it’s now hard to imagine not having the basic right to vote, the UK has an (often startling) history of outrageously sexist laws, some of which have only been abolished within our lifetimes.

For example, men were legally allowed to rape their wives until 1991, while violence against women wasn’t officially recognised as a violation of their human rights until 1993. Pubs could refuse to serve women on the basis of their gender alone until 1982, and wives have only been taxed independently from their husbands since 1990.

With such sexist laws nestled in our recent history, it is perhaps not surprising that women in the UK still have so far to go before we can really reach gender parity. Despite the huge advances for our gender in the last century, we are still grappling with issues such as the gender pay gap, maternity discrimination and outdated laws policing what we wear to work. All of this, in a country described by a UN council member as having a sexist “boys club culture”.

So, how far have we really come since some women were first granted the right to vote back in 1918? Here, stylist.co.uk charts some of the sexist laws and rulings that have been repealed over the last century, as we look forward to the next 100 years of fighting the patriarchy.

Suffragettes march in London, 1910

1919 The Sex Discrimination (Removal) Act

This was the first piece of equal opportunities legislation to officially enter the statute book. As implied in the title, the intent was to “amend the Law with respect to disqualification on account of sex”, meaning women would no longer be “disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function”.

For the first time, women could become accountants, lawyers and vets, sit on a jury or become a magistrate.

1922 The Law of Property Act

This piece of legislation meant that husbands and wives had equal rights to inherit property from each other. Before this, women were forced to give up all rights to their property when they got married – putting their legal status on equal ranking to criminals and insane people. This was changed under the 1870 Married Women’s Property Act, followed by an extension to the law in 1882, which gave married women complete control over their own property.

Following on from the Law of Property Act in 1922, legislation finally gave women the same rights to own and dispose of property as men in 1926.

1923 The Matrimonial Causes Act

This act allowed women to petition for divorce if their husband had been unfaithful. Before the act was passed, only men were allowed to divorce a spouse due to adultery.

A further Act passed in 1937 included cruelty, desertion and incurable insanity as grounds for divorce.

1967 The Abortion Act

This landmark ruling legalised abortions in Great Britain. However, they are still illegal in Northern Ireland.

50,000 pro-life campaigners marched on Whitehall after The Abortion Act was passed

1967 The NHS (Family Planning) Act

This act was important for a number of reasons. First, it made contraception available to all women – previously, the service had only been granted for those whose health would be endangered by pregnancy.

Second, it finally made it legal for local health authorities to give birth control advice to unmarried women, rather than only those who were wed.

1970 Women can get their own mortgages

Women in the UK were generally refused mortgages right up until the Seventies, because so few of them were in continuous employment. Until then, a woman could only secure a mortgage if she had the signature of a male guarantor.

This act made it illegal to pay women less than men for the same amount of work. It also made it illegal to give women less favourable conditions of employment than men.

Some employers attempted to find a loophole in the law by rewriting women’s job descriptions so they wouldn’t have to raise their pay, or by creating new positions for which there were no male equivalents hired. Thankfully, this generally received resistance from local authorities.

1975 The Sex Discrimination Act

This was another radical change to the law, which made it illegal to discriminate against women in work, training and education. This meant that employers, landlords, schools, restaurants and finance companies legally had to treat women as equals to men for the first time. For example, job adverts could no longer specify that a company was looking for only a woman or a man for a specific role.

The Equal Opportunities Commission was also established, with the aim of driving equality forward.

Joanna Foster, former chairman of The Equal Opportunities Commission

1975 The Employment Protection Act

This law finally made it illegal to fire women for being pregnant. The legislation also established that women were entitled to take maternity leave, and that they had the right to return to their position after doing so.

However, despite this law being in place for over 40 years, the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission estimates that over 50,000 women are (illegally) sacked every year for being pregnant.

1980 Women can apply for credit cards and loans

Yes, it really took this long before all women were allowed to apply for a credit card or loan without first needing a man’s signature.

1982 Women can’t be refused service in pubs

Up until 1982, it was perfectly legal to refuse to serve women in British pubs, which were traditionally “male environments”.

Happily, this all changed in 1982, following the legal case of solicitor Tess Gill and journalist Anna Coote. The pair were banned from El Vino pub on Fleet Street for standing with their male colleagues at the bar, rather than sitting at the tables that women were confined to. They took their case to the Court of Appeal, where the ban was overturned in a landmark ruling – a massive win for women, who could no longer be refused service in pubs.

Following the decision, Gill, Cootes and other women headed straight to the bar at El Vino, brilliantly leading one bartender to comment, “There are more women at the bar than men - it’s chaos”.

Tess Gill and Anna Coote celebrate their victory at El Vino pub

1986 The Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Act

This was an important extension to the earlier Act in 1975. It permitted women to retire at the same age as men, and made it legal for them to work factory night shifts.

1990 Independent taxation introduced

Amazingly, women were not taxed independently from their husbands until 1990. This finally marked their income as their own, rather than as an addition to their husband’s earnings.

1991 Rape within marriage becomes a crime

Before this date, it was legal for a man to rape his wife because he had “conjugal rights”. It took another decade after this ruling for the word “consent” to finally be given a legal definition, under the 2003 Sexual Offences Act.

1993 Violence against women recognised as a violation

It wasn’t until the early Nineties that violence against women was finally established as a violation of their human rights, under the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.

2018 Gender pay gap addressed?

Under a “trailblazing” new government initiative, all companies employing more than 250 staff must publically declare the salaries – and pay gaps – of the men and women in the company. They have until 4 April to do so.

Stylist is celebrating the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote. See more of our commemorative content here.

How women finally got the right to jury service

The Representation of the People Act 1918 famously ended the ban on women voting in general elections. But behind the headline ‘women got the vote’, there was a more complex reality. Some women had already been voting in – and been elected into office in – various local franchises for half a century. And even when some women secured the parliamentary vote in February 1918, all women in their twenties were still excluded. Moreover, all women were still prohibited from taking part in public life by joining the professions, or by serving as jurors.

The Bill to abolish legal rules keeping women out of the professions

The year after some women secured the parliamentary vote, the Labour opposition introduced into Parliament the Women’s Emancipation Bill, which would have abolished legal rules keeping women out of the professions, allowed women to sit in the House of Lords, and given women an identical parliamentary franchise to that enjoyed by men. When the Labour Bill passed through the Commons, the coalition government faced the embarrassing prospect of the official opposition managing to pass its own measures into law. In order to avoid this possibility, the government threw its weight behind its own alternative measure: the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Bill.

A more modest approach

The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 was much more modest than the Labour measure, doing no more than abolishing the ban on women professionals and women jurors. And clearly even this reform could only be the start of a process of broadening the membership of the professions and of juries. As the Viscountess Rhonda once put it, the problem was to find a way to ensure that the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act could ‘get outside its brackets’. This is a story which is currently being told in the specific context of the legal profession by the First 100 Years project.

Lady jurors at the first "mixed" jury at the Bath Quarter Sessions featured in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 16 th October 1920

But while there were newly enfranchised people who were very keen to join the professions, jury service has not in practice always been regarded as such an attractive part of citizenship. In 1913, for example, Gwyneth Bebb and three others had unsuccessfully taken the Law Society to court over their refusal to allow women to qualify as solicitors while after 1919 various newspapers were keen to emphasise how keen some women were to avoid jury service. There were probably always more people – men and women – seeking to avoid jury service than there were people trying to serve on a jury.

Qualifications to be a juror

Things get even trickier once we consider the rules about how a person qualified to be a juror. First, they had to own land of a certain value. The Representation of the People Act 1918 required women to occupy property worth at least five pounds per annum before they could vote in parliamentary elections, and under rules established in 1825 jurors had to own at least twice as much. This meant in Bristol in 1925, for example, that 6,758 men and only 1,503 women were qualified as jurors, meaning that a representative Bristolian jury would feature fewer than three women.

Even if a person was qualified, they would still need to be summoned by local officials, and then selected for a particular case. The lawyers in serious criminal trials could remove several prospective jurors without giving reasons. The trial judge, meanwhile, could simply order an all-male jury. Finally, judges often invited women to excuse themselves from particularly ‘shocking’ trials. Before long, local court officials started to complain that there was no point even summoning representative jury panels, as so few women ever actually served. This is likely to have limited even further the number of women available for each trial.

What kinds of trials did women serve on?

By exploring records of serious criminal trials in the first decade after 1919, it is possible to see how the kinds of trials that women served on was affected by the attitudes of lawyers and court officials, including variable local attitudes. In sexual offence trials without a female victim, for example, women almost never served. Conversely, all-male juries were less common for property offences such as theft. Women jurors were also more likely in the southeast of England in homicide trials, in trials for non-fatal assaults in south Wales, and in trials for sexual offences against women in southwest England.

A loophole exploited

Given that jury service was considered an important part of active citizenship, it is unsurprising that the bar on women jurors was lifted soon after 1918. But we have already seen that local attitudes could determine whether women were actually able to enjoy this part of their newfound citizenship. In fact, ten towns enjoyed a loophole which meant they could select their jurors however they liked. In Leicester, Lincoln and Nottingham, all juries trying serious criminal offences in autumn 1920 had exactly six men and six women while in Norwich, Bristol and Exeter such juries featured no women at all.

The first time men and women served on the jury at the Leicester assizes, 26 October 1920. The court official recorded the names of the six men and six women in two separate columns.

Soon after 1919, efforts were made to tighten up these rules, ensuring jurors were summoned according to nationally consistent rules. In December 1920, the Lord Chancellor pushed through legislation abolishing the ten towns’ discretion to ignore the property qualifications, despite objections from the Home Office that this would disqualify many women. Two years later, a new requirement was added to the juror qualification rules: that a juror also had to be appear on the electoral register. This prevented women serving as jurors where they owned property but lived elsewhere with male relatives, and it also excluded foreigners and conscientious objectors.

Universal right to serve as a juror

Jury service was widely considered a part of the citizenship which was secured by some women through the Representation of the People Act 1918, and so it is unsurprising that reforms were quickly passed extending the jury franchise to some women. By exploring in detail the records both of serious criminal cases and of debates within central and local government immediately after 1919, we can see just how incomplete this extension of citizenship really was. As with the right to vote in parliamentary elections, it would be some time before the right to serve as a juror was truly universal.

Dr Kevin Crosby is a Lecturer in Law at Newcastle University. He has completed an archival project exploring regional variations in the use of female jurors in the assize courts of 1920s England and Wales, funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant.

This blog post is part of our Vote 100 series. Read our other posts marking 100 years since Parliament passed the law allowing the first women to vote.

Image credits:
Lady jurors at the first "mixed" jury at the Bath Quarter Sessions featured in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 16 th October 1920
via the British Newspaper Archive
'The first time men and women served on the jury at the Leicester assizes, 26 th October 1920' via National Archives: ASSI 11/42

1910 to 1919 Important News, Significant Events, Key Technology

Jack Johnson beats Tommy Burns , Jack Johnson became the first black boxer to win the Heavyweight Boxing Championship was when he knocked out the reigning champion Tommy Burns on December 26th, 1910. His victory had stirred up a lot of controversy as well as the desire for a white man to reclaim the title.

Immigration Into US , The immigration into the US hits an all time peak with 8.8 million immigrants over 10 years from 1901-1910.

Boy Scouts of America , Following a visit to England in 1909 and a meeting with British General Robert Baden-Powell who founded the Scouting movement in England, Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce incorporates the Boy Scouts of America.

King Edward VII Dies , King Edward VII dies after being Britain's King for 9 years. He was often referred to as "Bertie" which was the name the royal family used for him.

Idaho Big Burn , August 20-21, 1910 – The Great Fire, also known as the Big Burn or the Big Blowup, began as a forest fire. By the time it was contained and put out, the fire had burned nearly three million acres of land throughout three different states – Idaho, Montana and Washington. More than 80 people were killed and it is often called the worst fire in the nation’s history.

Houndsditch murders , On December 16th 2 Police officers are murdered while investigating a robbery are shot and killed by the gang, in January the following year following a tip off Police cordon of an area of Stepney in East London and a major gun battle between police and the gang lasts nearly all day leaving some of the gang members dead.

First Auto Electric Start , The First Electric Self Start was installed in a Cadillac By GM. Up until this time, all cars needed to be started by cranking a starting handle which was hard work and caused multiple minor injuries when the car backfired during the starting process.

The Discovery of Machu Picchu , Hiram Bingham finds Machu Picchu in the Andes. He had followed Simón Bolívar's route into Colombia and continued it with a walk from Argentina into Peru. He was a professor of history at Yale, and was performing the expedition as a member of that faculty. He was able to confirm its location on July 24th . He returned to excavate the site in 1912. It is near the western end of the Huatanay valley.

Madame Butterfly , Puccini's opera 'Madame Butterfly' which tells the story of an American sailor, B.F. Pinkerton, who marries and abandons a young Japanese geisha, Cio-Cio-San, or Madame Butterfly had its world premiere at La Scala in Milan, Italy.

Manhattan Sweatshop Fire , A Fire breaks out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Manhattan on March 25th. The building was overcrowded with women immigrant workers and poor safety standards including the doors to the stairwells and exits were locked allowing no exit from the fire on the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors which meant the women either burned in the fire or took a chance of surviving by jumping from windows one hundred feet above the street. The fire caused the death of 146 garment workers, almost all of them women, who either died from the fire or jumped from the fatal height.

First Indianapolis 500 , The first ever running of the Indianapolis 500 is won by Ray Harrounat at an average speed of 74.59 miles an hour.

First International Women’s Day (IWD) was observed during March of 1911. It was first celebrated in Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, and Germany by over one million people who attended International Women’s Day rallies. The creation of the holiday was a result of socialist and labor movements that were campaigning for women’s rights. They were originally looking to bring attention to the fight for the right to vote and run for public office, the right to work and education, and to end discrimination. In 1975, the United Nations began celebrating IWD and two years later adopted a resolution for member-states to designate a holiday dedicated to celebrating women’s rights and international peace.

Sinking of the Titanic , The Titanic sets sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. The Titanic had been described as the worlds most luxurious floating hotel which is unsinkable, and was only 5 days out when she hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic with the loss of many lives. The Titanic was built in Belfast (between 1909 and 1911) and registered in Liverpool in 1912. Liverpool was the home port, although she never entered it. The White Star Liner left Belfast on April 2nd, 1912 and arrived in Southampton on April 4th. The crew had boarded before dawn on April 10th, and the passengers between 9.30 and 11.30 a.m. She left port at around 2 p.m. and arrived in Queenstown, Ireland before crossing the Atlantic. She struck an iceberg on Sunday, April 14th, and the ship's distress signal gave her position as Latitude 41º 46' N and Longitude 50º 14 W.

Hellmann's Real Mayonnaise , Richard Hellmann owned a delicatessen in New York City where he sold his wife's delectable recipe for mayonnaise becoming so popular that Hellmann began selling it in "wooden boats" that were used for weighing butter. Due to such high demand in 1912, Hellmann designed what is today the iconic "Blue Ribbon" label, to be placed on larger glass jars.

Last Emperor of China , Hsian-T'ung, the last emperor of China, is forced to abdicate following Sun Yat-sen's republican revolution, ending 267 years of Manchu rule in China and 2,000 years of imperial rule.

Girl Scouts of America Founded , Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Guides in the United States. She had lived in England with her first husband for many years and had been a Girl Guide leader while living in England. On March 12th, 1912 she gathered 18 girls together to register the first troop of American Girl Guides in Savannah, Georgia. The name was changed to Girl Scouts of America the following year.

Olympic Games , The Summer Olympic Games of the V Olympiad were held in Stockholm, Sweden. These Olympics marked the introduction of Electronic Timing and Photo-Finish Equipment.

Taiwan , On January 1st 1912 The Republic of China ( Taiwan ) created following the Xinhai Revolution ( 1911 Chinese Revolution )

First Cross Word Puzzle , The first crossword puzzle was published and created by Arthur Wynne, a Liverpool journalist. It was first published as a "word-cross" puzzle in the New York World.

The 16th Amendment , The 16th Amendment was (apparently) ratified on February 3rd 1913, and said that Congress had been given the power to collect taxes on income without regard for a census or enumeration. Interestingly, the Supreme Court had declared the apportionment unconstitutional in 1894 . 'No taxation without representation'

The 17th Amendment , The 17th Amendment goes into effect changing US Senators being chosen by the Legislature to elections involving ordinary voters.

Webb Alien Land-Holding Bill , The Webb Alien Land-Holding Bill is signed into law by California Governor Hiram W. Johnson which bars Japanese Nationals from owning land in California.

Ford Introduces Assembly Line , The Ford Motor Company introduced the continuous moving assembly line which could produce a complete car every two-and-a-half minutes. This change is one of the most significant changes in Car production and allowed Ford to sell cars cheaper than any other manufacturer which forced the others to also move to automated production lines.

Mona Lisa Recovered , The Mona Lisa was recovered two years after its theft from the Louvre Museum in Paris. It was found in Florence in Italian waiter Vincenzo Peruggia's hotel room.

First Stainless Steel , Harry Brearley was researching ways to stop excessive wear in rifle barrels for the British Army when he discovered that by adding Chromium to an Iron Carbon Mix, he ended up with a bright surface finish which became Stainless Steel. Stainless Steel contains about 10% Chromium and 8% nickel.

Rite of Spring Debuts The avant-garde ballet “The Rite of Spring,” created by Igor Stravinsky, premiered in Paris, France on May 29. At the time of its premiere the work was considered scandalous due to the context of the story as it portrayed a Pagan sacrifice, its unusual choreography, and the extravagant costumes featured in the ballet. The music also sparked controversy as it was heavily influenced by European folk themes and relied on dissonant sounds. The audience, watching Sergei Diaghilev's ballet company dance to Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography, was so upset by the modern performance that they nearly rioted.

Federal Trade Commission , The Federal Trade Commission was organized following the Federal Trade Commission Act in 1914. Its principal mission is the promotion of "consumer protection" and the elimination and prevention of what regulators perceive to be "anti-competitive" business practices. One of its roles is to enforce antitrust laws.

Irish Home Rule , The British Parliament passes Irish Home Rule, but the start of World War One prevents it from having any effect. It had been made to submit a degree of autonomy to that particular country within the bounds of the British Empire. The desire for home rule had started in 1870 with the Home Government Association or Home Rule League, which were led by the very un-Irish sounding Isaac Butt and Charles Parnell. Their calls for land reform and a denominal education system were obstructed, and the law wasn't passed until September 18th, 1914.

Start Of World War I , It was the alliances of 1914 that created the reasons for the Great War, with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy's Triple Alliance and Franco-Russian and Entente Cordiale being fairly contradictory to the other countries' expanding empires. The Dardanelles situation was ongoing, and the Balkan's Crisis had made the Austria-Hungary redefine its territories' boundaries. It was during Archduke Franz Ferdinand's visit to Sarajevo that the spark was ignited, when both he and his wife were killed by a member of 'Young Bosnia.' Whilst unfounded, the Austrian-Hungarians accused Serbia of complicity in the murders, and demanded the dismemberment of the state. Although there were a number of diplomatic moves and arbitration, Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia on July 28th . This had led to the Allied forces mobilization.

USS Oklahoma naval battleship was launched during March. It was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation after being ordered by the United States Navy in 1911. By 1916, it was commissioned into the US Navy and used to protect Allied convoys crossing the Atlantic during World War I. It was the first US dreadnought that was an oil-burning battleship instead of a coal-burning ship. After the end of World War I the ship was modernized and sent to join the Pacific fleet. In 1941, the USS Oklahoma was sunk by the Japanese during their attack on Pearl Harbor. It was salvaged in 1943 but too damaged to be used again and sold for scrap in 1946.

The Empress of Ireland Sinks , The Empress of Ireland and A Norwegian coal freighter, the Storstad, crash in St. Lawrence River in thick fog causing the deaths of 1,073 passengers and crew, this was one of the worst maritime accidents in history.

First US Income Tax , Congress passes the Revenue Act mandating the first tax on incomes over $3,000.

Egypt under protection of the Crown , Great Britain placed Egypt under its protection of the Crown. The official Press Bureau read, “The suzerainty of Turkey over Egypt is thus terminated, and His Majesty’s government will adopt all measures necessary for the defense of Egypt and the protection of its inhabitants and interests.”

Ford announced his $5-per-day program , Henry Ford raises minimum daily pay from $2.34 to $5 for qualifying workers. Car workers from other plants queued up for jobs and the changes he made to pay and working hours gave Ford the lowest labor turnover in his plants. Henry Ford did not believe in Trade Unions and The Ford company was the last Detroit auto maker to recognize the United Auto Workers union (UAW).

The Panama Canal Opens , The Panama Canal which took 34 years to build from 1880 - 1914 (and cost over 27,000 workers their lives) provided a connection for shipping from The Atlantic to The Pacific and opened in 1914.

World War I Christmas Truce , The soldiers of Germany, Russia, France, and Britain call a Christmas truce with soldiers crossing the area of no mans land calling out "Merry Christmas" in their enemies' native tongues.

1920's Fashion

Ladies Dresses From The Decade

Part of our Collection of Childrens Clothes From the Decade

Childrens Toys From The 1920's

1920s Music

World War I Zeppelin raids , Zeppelin raids had started in England, the zeppelins and were able to fly at a higher altitude than the defenders' planes. They had been developed by the Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, and were used by the German military since 1909. The German army's balloons had suffered from ground fire, but they were put to use over England: targeting the coastal towns of Yarmouth and King's Lynn in January before moving on to attack on London in May. It took a while before the British pilots had the skills and means to successfully defeat the incoming raids.

World War I Use Of Poison Gas , Trench warfare was seeing the use of poison gas. A non-lethal type of gas had been used by the Germans in late 1914, but a more damaging kind was put onto the Eastern Front in January 1915 (at Bolimov), where it froze. The Germans had developed the chlorine gas that was used at Ypres in April. It had been dispersed by air and by artillery fire. The British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) was able to counter the use of gas with their own variants.

U.S. Coast Guard , Congress established the U.S. Coast Guard Service by combining the Revenue Cutter Service (1790) and the United States Life-Saving Service ( 1848 ).

Suffrage Movement , As part of the women's suffrage movement 25,000 women march up Fifth Avenue in New York City demanding the right to vote.

First Transcontinental Telephone Call , First U.S. coast-to-coast long-distance telephone call, facilitated by a newly-invented vacuum tube amplifier, was ceremoniously inaugurated by A.G. Bell in New York City and his former assistant Thomas Augustus Watson in San Francisco, California.

Lusitania Sunk By Torpedo on May 7th , A German torpedo sinks the British Ocean liner Lusitania off the Irish coast, killing nearly 1,200 people.

World War I , The British warship Formidable is hit on January 1st by the U-42 a German submarine the ship sinks into the waters of the English Channel, and 547 lives were lost.

Denmark Women Voting Rights During June voting rights were granted to women in Denmark. The rights were also extended to women living in Iceland as well, as the island nation was still a part of the Danish kingdom at the time. In 1886, the Women’s Progress Association was created and began establishing a women’s voice on important Danish social issues and by 1889 the Women’s Suffrage Association was created with the sole purpose of establishing voting rights for women in Denmark. In the early 1900s steps were made towards the enfranchisement of women in Denmark as various groups were allowed to vote in local elections. By 1915, a new Danish constitution was passed which included full voting rights for women as well as other reforms to the Danish government system.

Allied Attack in Dardanelles During March the British and French Allied forces launch a naval attack against Turkish forces in the Dardanelles. The Allied forces aimed at taking control of a key strait that connected Europe to Asia. The campaign was not successful and was a huge loss for the Allied forces. Hundreds of thousands of men perished on both sides and the Allies lost several important battleships to mines in the water. The Allies had hoped a victory would garner more support for their side from some of the states that had remained neutral like Bulgaria, Greece, and Romania. The fight continued as the Allies landed in Gallipoli in April and the battles did not end until the beginning of the following year when the Allies abandoned the campaigns.

Pancho Villa Attacks Columbus New Mexico , Several hundred Mexican guerrillas under the command of Francisco "Pancho" Villa cross the U.S.-Mexican border and attack the small border town of Columbus, New Mexico. Additionally, the center of the town was burned. Villa was also influential in various attacks made during the Mexican Revolution. Following his massacre of 16 U.S. citizens at Santa Isabel in Northern Mexico and 17 American Citizens in Columbus, New Mexico President Wilson had sent US forces into Mexico with orders to capture Villa dead or alive. US forces are sent to capture Villa dead or alive but give up searching for the Mexican revolutionary after nearly one year.

Rasputin Murdered , Rasputin, the monk who had wielded powerful influence over the Russian royal family, was murdered by a group of noblemen led by Prince Felix Yusupov and the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich.

Thompson submachine gun , General John T. Thompson invents the Thompson submachine gun (Tommy Gun) and started the Auto-Ordnance Company in 1916. Prior to World War II, it gained notoriety in the hands of Gangsters/Mobsters during the Prohibition era, but in World War II the Thompson submachine gun was adopted by the U.S. military, British and Canadian Commando units, as well as U.S. paratrooper and Ranger battalions.

The Battle of Jutland , A German naval fleet consisting of 24 battleships, five battle cruisers, 11 light cruisers and 63 destroyers that were just off the Jutland Peninsula, were attacked by a British fleet of 28 battleships, nine battle cruisers, 34 light cruisers and 80 destroyers on on May 31st in one of the greatest sea battles in History known as The Battle of Jutland or the Battle of the Skagerrak, a total of 100,000 men aboard 250 ships were involved in the battle.

World War I Battle Of The Somme (1916 - 1918) , One of the most costly battles in modern wartime is fought near the Somme Region over 2 years when this small area of countryside saw the deaths of over 1 million men from both sides of the war. The first day of the Somme resulted in the loss of 19,240 dead and 57,470 men wounded on the British side, and an estimated 4,000 dead on the German's. The main reasons for the losses being so high are put down to machine-gun fire and shelling. The eight day bombardment of the German trenches had not broken them and there are regarded as having been too few artillery pieces and too light. The battle went on for nearly one hundred and forty days, and did not act as a support for the French troops at Verdun. The successive and futile attacks went on to be known as a single battle and the B.E.F's reserves were severely diminished.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

Easter uprising Ireland , The Easter uprising began when some 1,600 militant Irish republicans who were members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood seize several key sites in Dublin hoping to win independence from British rule. British forces suppressed the uprising after six days, and its leaders were court-Marshalled and executed.

Battle of Verdun , The Battle of Verdun comes to an end during World War I in December. It was one of the largest and longest battles of the war and was fought between France and Germany on the Western Font. The battle began in February and it featured heavy use of artillery. By the end, there were over 500,000 casualties, over 300,000 lives lost, and 9 French towns were left in complete ruin. France claimed victory, but despite this, neither side was able to gain much from the battle and the war would continue until 1918.

Russian Revolution , The beginning of the Russian Revolution (Often Called The February Revolution) against Czarist Rule. It began in February 1917 following the lack of food in Petrograd and lead to the abdication by Nicholas II in March 1917 and the beginning of the Communist Party rule in Russia. After 300 years of rule by the Romanov Dynasty, Czar Nicholas II is forced to abdicate following declining popularity due to the "Bloody Sunday" massacre when palace guards shot and killed defenseless demonstrators marching on the Winter Palace.

British Royal Family Name Change , During the first World War as sentiment against Germany by the British People worsened, King George V ordered the British royal family to end using the German-sounding surname, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and to take on the name Royal House of Windsor.

Boys Town Founded , Father Edward Flanagan founds Boys Town dedicated to the care of at-risk children, with national headquarters in the village of Boys Town, Nebraska.

Puerto Rico Citizens given US Citizenship , The Jones-Shafroth Act granted U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans - a status they still hold today.

America enters World War I , Following the interception of a note (the Zimmermann Note) from the German Foreign Minister to a Mexican Diplomat promising the return of territories lost to the United States if Mexico joined Germany in attack against the US, US President Wilson appeared before Congress and called for a declaration of war against Germany. The sinking of the British Liner RMS Lusitania which carried 128 US passengers by a German U-boat in 1915, and the sinking of several US merchant ships also contributed to the declaration. On April 6th the United States formally declared war on Germany and entered the First World War.

World War I Jerusalem Captured , Major Vivian Gilbert of the British army revealed the inside story of how Jerusalem fell during the First World War. He said that an army cook was out looking for eggs and was presented with the keys to the city by the mayor. The British won the Holy Land back from the Turks.

Iraq British Take Control From Turkish Troops , British troops take control of Baghdad forcing the Turkish troops to evacuate.

Mexican Constitution , Mexican President Venustiano Carranza proclaims the establishment of the modern-day Mexican constitution. This constitution consisted of promises made that are similar to the ones outlined by the American constitution. For instance, the constitution of Mexico makes provisions for returning land to native people, and separation of church and state. This constitution also included plans for economic and educational reform.

New Immigration Act , Congress passes a new Immigration Act which required a literacy test for immigrants and barred Asiatic laborers, except for those from countries with special treaties or agreements with the United States, such as the Philippines.

Pulitzer Prizes Started , Pulitzer Prizes is started for outstanding work in Journalism, writing fiction and non-fiction.

Earthquake Long Beach California , A deadly earthquake magnitude of 6.3 hi6 Long Beach, California, and killed an estimated 140 people.

Mata Hari , The exotic dancer Mata Hari is sentenced to execution by firing squad by a French court for spying on Germany's behalf during World War I.

US Declares War On Germany and Sends Troops , Congress makes a declaration of war on Germany and sends U.S. troops into battle against Germany in World War I.

King Constantine I , King Constantine I of Greece abdicates his throne in the face of pressure from Britain and France and internal opponents.

Lenin Speech , Lenin makes his first appearance before the Congress of Soviets, in which the Bolsheviks hold a 60% majority. announcing "We shall now proceed to the construction of the socialist order."

Battle of Langemarck , The Battle of Langemarck takes place during August. Located in the Flanders region of Belgium, the Battle of Langemarck was one of the battles that was a part of the larger Battle of Passchendaele which took place from July to November of 1917. British and French Allied troops fought against the Germans for several days, ending in a narrow Allied victory. There were heavy casualties on both sides and in the end the gains were small compared to the cost of the battle.

Third Battle of Ypres , The Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, began during July. The allied forces of the British Empire, Belgium, and France fought against the German Empire along the edge of the city of Ypres in Belgium. The battle consisted of several smaller battles over the course of three months. Muddy regions exacerbated the difficulty of the battle with troops, vehicles, and artillery getting stuck often. This battle is often cited as an example of the futility of trench warfare in World War I. Both sides marked the battle as somewhat of a failure with heavy losses estimated at 300,000 casualties for the British side and 250,000 casualties for the German side. The British claimed victory after capturing the village of Passchendaele.

Espionage Act , The Espionage Act of 1917 becomes law after it was passed by the United States Congress in June. The law made it a crime to share information about national defense that would harm the country and help its enemies. Punishments for violating the law included a 20 year prison sentence and fines up to $10,000.00. The law was supported by the Sedition Act that was passed during the following year. The Espionage Act was declared constitutional in the 1919 Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, with the ruling stating that it did not violate the First Amendment, but it has been continuously challenged in court since its inception.

Second Battle of Ramadi , The Second Battle of Ramadi takes place in September during World War I. British troops fought against the Ottoman Empire. The town of Ramadi, in central Iraq, was a strategically important location for the British who had previously tried to capture it during July of 1917. The First Battle of Ramadi was a failure that resulted in many casualties. During the second battle in September, the British were successful in capturing the town. The battle ended with relatively low casualties and most of the Turkish troops were captured as prisoners of war.

The Second Russian Revolution , also known as the October Revolution (called October Revolution due to Russia following the Julian calendar until 1918), took place during November 7th and November 8th of 1917. A group of Bolshevik revolutionaries, led by Vladimir Lenin, launched a coup against the provisional government that had been established in March after the February Revolution. At the end of the October Revolution, Lenin became the dictator of the world’s first communist nation and the Russian Civil War began. The civil war ended in 1923 with Soviet victory.

Brest-Litovsk and the Armistice , The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk ended Russia's part in the First World War, and the previous year's October Revolution had started what would become the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The Bolsheviks had promised that they would not intervene on foreign soil, and the Russian Civil War was looming. Trotsky had been made foreign minister. The fighting of the War to End All Wars had ended in the Armistice on the eleventh hour of of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. With the Romanian army joining the Allies in 1916 the Armistice had meant that Hungary was required to give Transylvania to Romania.

Czar Nicholas II , Czar Nicholas II and his family are executed by the Bolsheviks, bringing an end to the three-century-old Romanov dynasty.

Royal Air Force is Founded , The Royal Air force is founded in England, this is truly an amazing piece of History as the first flight was only made 8 years before by Wilbur and Wright and for countries around the World to set up a separate arms of the Forces shows how important politicians believed the aircraft would become as a part of the military. The aircraft in use in 1918 when the RAF started included the Sopwith Pup, Bristol F2B Fighters, Sopwith Camels and Royal Aircraft Factory SE5's.

Influenza Epidemic , The first cases of one of the worst influenza epidemic in history were reported at Fort Riley, Kansas. It would eventually kill more than 1/2 million Americans and more than 20 million people worldwide. In the world's worst flu epidemic (Spanish Flu called because the first major outbreak causing multiple deaths was in Spain) in history an estimated 30 million people died worldwide.

First Use Of Aircraft By US In war , The first use of air combat by the US when Eight Curtiss "Jenny" planes of the First Aero Squadron are used in support for the 7,000 U.S. troops who invaded Mexico to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

"The Red Baron" German Fighter Ace Killed , Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the German ace known as the "Red Baron," credited with 80 confirmed air combat victories was killed in action during World War I.

Lawrence of Arabia , Arab and British forces commanded by Lawrence of Arabia capture Damascus from Turkish forces

Germany signs armistice , Germany facing invasion from the allies and with poor supplies of food and weapons signs armistice agreement with the allies bringing to an end World War I.

The Second Battle of the Marne takes place during July in World War I. The battle marked the final offensive push of the Germans prior to the end of the war that November. The battle lasted several days before ending in a large Allied victory. The Germans were defeated by a combination of French, British, Italian, and American forces. Their defeat gave an advantage to the Allies in the Western Front who used the opportunity to advance by launching a massive counter-offensive, hastening the end of the war. Both sides suffered tens of thousands of casualties.

World War I - Armistice of Mudros The Ottoman Empire and the Allies sign the Armistice of Mudros on October 30th. It was signed by Rauf Bey who was the Ottoman Minister of Marine Affairs and British Admiral Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe who represented the Allies. The signing took place on board the HMS Agamemnon in the Port of Mudros on the Greek island of Lemnos. Terms of the agreement included letting the Allies take control of the Straits of the Dardenelles and the Bosporus and having the Ottoman Empire surrender control of all garrisons outside of the Anatolia region of modern day Turkey. This agreement effectively put an end to the fighting in the Middle East during World War I.

UK Women Voting Rights The United Kingdom begins granting voting rights to some women with the passage of the Representation of the People Act in February. The law granted limited voting rights for women, allowing women over the age of 30 who were property owners or married to property owners the right to vote. It was also known as the Fourth Reform Act and it also expanded voting rights for men, removing property restrictions. The law tripled the size of the British electorate from about 7 million people to about 21 million people. Full voting rights for women were not achieved in England until 1928 when Parliament passed the Equal Franchise Bill.

The United States Congress passes the Standard Time Act , also known as the Calder Act, during March of 1918. The law defined Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time within the United States and gave the Interstate Commerce Commission the authority to set each time zone. Congress soon repealed the unpopular Daylight Saving Time portion of the law in 1919, overriding President Wilson’s veto. Daylight Saving Time was re-instated again in the United States during World War II.

Hindenburg Line Broken Allied forces break through Germany’s last line of defense on the Western Front during September, near the end of World War I. The “Hindenburg Line,” or “Siegfried Line” as it was also known, was a 6,000-yard-deep, heavily fortified and well-defended series of zones built by German forces to strategically guard their side of the Western Front. As the war neared its end, Allied forces coordinated a series of offensive moves, including a 56-hour-long marathon bombardment, to break the line and were successful in breaching the line, hastening the end of the war. Both sides suffered heavy casualties in the battles.

Iceland - Independence from Denmark 1. Iceland becomes independent on December 1st after Iceland and Denmark sign the Danish-Icelandic Act of Union.

2. With the agreement, Iceland became a sovereign and fully independent state.

3. Part of the agreement allowed Iceland to maintain a union with the monarchy of Denmark and be represented by Denmark in matters of foreign affairs while still being fully in control of their own policies and government.

4. After the agreement was made Iceland created its own coat of arms and flag and declared its neutrality.

US Airmail Service The United States Post Office Department officially begins its first regularly scheduled air mail service on May 15th. The first route was a 218 mile route flown between Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. The first pilots for the inaugural flights of the service were US Army Lieutenants Howard Culver, Stephen Bonsal, George Boyle, Torrey Webb, Walter Miller, and James Edgerton. The original rate for airmail delivery was priced at 24 cents per ounce of mail but it was later reduced throughout the first year of service to just 16 cents and then again to 6 cents.

The American Legion , The American Legion has it's first meeting in Paris with about 1,000 officers and enlisted men attended to decide the organizations name. The next meeting takes place in St. Louis, Missouri two months later. The Legion served as a supportive group, a social club and a type of extended family for former service men and women and was also instrumental in creating the U.S. Veterans' Bureau, now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Battle of Belleau Wood , The Battle of Belleau Wood took place in June during World War I. The battle was near the Marne River in France and was fought between American, British Empire, and French troops against the German Empire. It was one of the first major battles fought with American troops after they joined the war and U.S. Marines played an enormous role in securing the Allied victory after nearly a month of fighting. The Allied forces were under the command of U.S. General John J. Pershing. There were heavy casualties reported on the Allied side, but it was unclear how many casualties were sustained on the German side.

World War I - Allies Sign Armistice Ending War The Allies sign an armistice with Germany on November 11, 1918, putting an end to the fighting of World War I. It was written by the Allied Supreme Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch and signed inside of a railroad car near Compiégne, France. The terms of the armistice mandated the withdrawal of German forces behind the Rhine, the release of Allied prisoners of war, the future negotiation of reparations, and the continued Allied occupation of the Rhineland, and more. The official end to the war did not come until the next year with the Treaty of Versailles in June of 1919.

Creation Of The Italian National Fascist Party , Benito Mussolini establishes the Fascist Party in 1919.

Treaty of Versailles , The First World War only ended in the series of conferences that took place in the Palace of Versailles from January 1919 to January 1920. Fifty-five countries were represented there and the League of Nations was formed. Britain and France took control of several of the Turkish Empire's territories, which included Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. The U.S. Congress did not ratify the Treaty, and it was rather Eurocentric.

League of Nations , The League of Nations is created and it is the predecessor to the United Nations.

Lady Astor , Lady Astor an American by birth is sworn in as the first female member of the British Parliament. A little known fact is that the first woman elected to the British Parliament was Constance Markiewicz, but she did not take up her seat because of her Irish nationalist views.

Rotary Dial Telephones Invented , Rotary Dial Telephones were invented. Before this every call made had to go through an operator but this invention allowed people to dial the number themselves.

Grand Canyon National Park , Congress established Grand Canyon National Park which includes the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, considered to be one of the major natural wonders of the world in Arizona. This is considered by many to be one of the earliest successes the environmental conservation movement.

Franklin D. Roosevelt marries , Franklin D. Roosevelt marries his distant cousin, Eleanor Roosevelt, in New York City. The wedding was attended by President Theodore Roosevelt, FDR's fifth cousin, who gave his niece away.

Daylight Saving Time , The US Congress approves daylight-saving time. Germany started the use of DST in 1916 and other countries followed suit. Daylight saving time or British summer time is the practice of adjusting clocks forward one hour near the start of spring so that afternoons have more daylight and mornings have less, and adjusting them backwards in the Autumn by 1 hour. It is not used universally world wide but is common in Europe and North America.

Lease Acquired For Guantanamo Bay , The United States signed a leasing agreement between the US and Cuba, acquiring Guantanamo Bay as a naval station at the southeastern end in Cuba.

The Anglo-Afghan Treaty of 1919 is signed by the United Kingdom and Afghanistan. It was also known as the Treaty of Rawalpindi, during August. The treaty established Afghanistan’s independence. It was signed as a result of the Third Anglo-Afghan War which had begun in May of the same year and it effectively ended the conflict. The treaty also modified the Durand Line, which served as a border demarcation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two countries had been in various states of conflict for nearly 80 years, with two other Anglo-Afghan wars fought from 1839 to 1842 and 1878 to 1880.

First Pop Up Toaster , Charles Strite invents the Pop-Up Toaster which used heated electrical coils to toast bread, the problem back then all bread was cut by hand so was different thicknesses, but after over ten years when bread slicing machines are gaining in popularity so would the Electric Pop Up Toaster.

Jailed for Advocating Birth Control , Emma Goldman who worked as a nurse and midwife among the poor in New York was also a crusader for women’s rights and social justice. She was arrested in New York City for lecturing and distributing materials about birth control. She was accused of violating the Comstock Act of 1873 , which made it a federal offense to disseminate contraceptive devices and information through the mail or across state lines.

US President Woodrow Wilson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December. He was given the prestigious honor for his work on ending the First World War and the creation of the League of Nations. Wilson began his work towards preventing future international conflicts in early 1918 with his “Fourteen Points” peace plan, laying the groundwork for the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. He was unable to attend the ceremony which was held in 1920 as he was still recovering from a stroke he suffered in October of 1919. He was represented at the ceremony by the U.S. Ambassador to Norway, Albert Schmedeman.

18th Amendment / Prohibition , Prohibition had been ratified on January 29th, 1919, and came into force with the 18th Amendment, which states that:

Section 1 - After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2 - The Congress and several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3 - This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution , The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote, is passed by Congress on June 4th and sent to the states for ratification.

Save the Children Established The children’s rights and relief organization “Save the Children” was established in April. It was created by Eglantyne Jebb and Dorothy Buxton in Great Britain near the end of World War I. Its original mission was to provide starvation relief to children in Austria-Hungary and Germany where the devastation of World War I and an Allied blockage of Germany had created a famine. The non-governmental fund soon expanded to about 30 total national locations. The group is notable for its involvement in the establishment of children’s rights during the 1920s and its participation in famine relief efforts and other charity work around the globe since its creation.

Paris Peace Conference The Paris Peace Conference opens on January 18th. The gathering, also known as the Versailles Peace Conference, followed the conclusion of the First World War and was controlled by the victorious Allied Powers (France, Britain, Japan, Italy, and the United States). The Allies used the conference to set the terms of defeat for the Central Powers. The primary outcome of the meeting was the Treaty of Versailles which ended the war with Germany and required the nation to accept responsibility for the war. Another four treaties were negotiated, ending the war with Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire. The Paris Peace conference was also notable for the establishment of the League of Nations.

Volstead Act Passed Creating Prohibition The United States Congress overrides President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the Volstead Act, officially beginning the era of prohibition. The 18th Amendment had been ratified on January 29th, banning the creation, sale, or transportation of alcohol, but the means to enforce the amendment had not yet been decided until the Volstead Act was made into law on October 28th. The act outlined how the United States government would enact prohibition in by banning the production and distribution of alcohol meant for consumption. The act did not come into force until January of 1920 along with the 18th amendment. Prohibition remained the law of the land until 1933 when the 21st amendment to the US Constitution repealed prohibition in the country.

Comintern Founded , The Comintern, also known as the Communist International or Third International, organization was founded during March. The association was created by Vladimir Lenin as a means for the Soviets to control the directives Communist parties on a more global scale. Lenin hoped the organization would guide a Soviet world order towards complete communism through the establishment and support of Communist political parties around the world. The group held seven congresses between 1919 and 1935. It was formally dissolved in 1943 by Joseph Stalin during World War II but he later created a similar group in 1947 known as the Cominform.

Everywoman in 1910: No vote, poor pay, little help - Why the world had to change

As we celebrate International Women's Day today, it is an appropriate time to think back through our mothers and grandmothers to 100 years ago.

As we celebrate International Women&aposs Day today, it is an appropriate time to think back through our mothers and grandmothers to 100 years ago.

What was life like for ordinary women living in Britain before the development of a national health service, a social welfare system and modern household appliances?

All women in 1910, irrespective of social class background, were seen as second-class citizens - a fact underlined by the denial to them of the parliamentary vote.

And all women were encouraged from childhood to strive to the ideal of serving others, to consider the interests of their menfolk first rather than their own.

Since most women were expected to become full-time wives and mothers, rather than earn their own living, options in life were limited.

This was especially so for ordinary, working-class girls and women who had fewer choices than their middle-class sisters and lived lives of toil and drudgery.

Working-class girls who attended state elementary schools were taught a limited curriculum.

Lessons focused on the 3 Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic), a little geography and history, and a large chunk of domestic subjects, such as needle-work, house manage-ment, cookery, laundry work and childcare.

It would appear Jthat few girls valued this domestic emphasis in their schooling, preferring their mother&aposs training at home.

Grace Foakes, who spent her childhood in East London in the early 20th century recollected in her autobiography My Part of the River: "If we did the housewifery course we were taught to sweep, dust, polish, make beds and bath a life-size doll.

"We had great fun on this course, for it was held in a house set aside for the purpose and, with only one teacher, we were quick to take advantage when she went to inspect another part of the house. We jumped on the bed, threw pillows, drowned the doll and swept dirt under the mats."

Other women remembered how the collars of men&aposs shirts washed, starched and ironed in school laundry classes were promptly re-washed by a schoolgirl&aposs unimpressed and house-proud mother.

Although the age of compulsory school attendance had been raised to 14 in 1899, many working-class girls left a year earlier, on possession of a labour certificate to enter dead-end, poorly-paid jobs, especially in domestic service.

The lowest paid was the maid-ofall-work or general servant, earning £12 to £18 a year, plus board and lodging. Other single working-class women might earn 13 shillings a week (65p) in the non-textile industries, but even that was not enough for a fully independent existence.

Marriage became a practical necessity for working-class women, few of whom wanted to be left on the shelf.

Once married, working-class husbands were usually against their wives going out to work, believing that a family wage was the way to earn respectability - and keep their wages high.

But most wives lived in a cycle of poverty, especially in urban areas where working-class families lived in damp, dark, overcrowded tenements infested with bugs.

When times got tough, the family wage would be supplemented by a wife asking kin or neighbours for help, or taking in lodgers or washing. Credit or the pawn shop were sometimes used too.

Most working-class wives were ignorant about birth control and had to manage a household of six children and two adults on a pound a week. After rent of 7 shillings (35 pence) was paid out, only 12 shillings (60 pence) was left for coal, gas, burial insurance, clothes, cleaning materials and savings.

Such conditions took their toll on the health of all the family, but women were hardest hit. They scrimped and scraped, often depriving themselves of food to buy a &aposrelish&apos for a husband&aposs tea or bacon for his breakfast.

Even when pregnant, a wife might live on bread and jam. Often the soonto-be-born baby died young.

"No one but mothers who have gone through the ordeal of pregnancy half starved, to finally bring a child into the world, to live a living death for nine months, can understand what it means," wrote one sad mother from those times in a letter to Margaret Llewelyn Davies for her book Maternity, Letters from Working Women.

Since contraceptives could not be advertised or openly displayed, some women tried well-known but dangerous methods to end a pregnancy - knitting needles, bottles of gin, hot baths, falling downstairs.

Often they failed and it was not uncommon for women to spend 15 years nursing or expecting babies. Keeping a damp tenement clean was hard work, and all done by manual labour. Few husbands helped with housework, shopping or childcare.

Since the only heating was by open fire, the grate had to be cleaned daily and scuttles of coal brought up and down stairs from the basement.

Washing was a particular chore since there was no hot water, only a cold tap, usually shared. Water had to be heated in a copper pan for washing clothes in a &aposdolly tub&apos and children would be given a bath in a tin tub, once a week, before the fire. Few homes had indoor lavatories but shared an outside privy.

It was the deplorable state of working-class women&aposs lives that prompted Emmeline Pankhurst, in 1903, to found the Women&aposs Social and Political Union (WSPU), a women-only organisation that was to campaign for the vote for women.

She believed the lack of the vote was the key factor underpinning the inferior status of women in Edwardian Britain and they "would remain a servant class until they lifted themselves out of it".

The campaign her suffragettes fought was never a single issue campaign but a broad based reform movement that sought to bring equality for women in the family, education, employment and the law.

Now in 2010 women are still not equal in all aspects of British life - but we have travelled a long way from the wretched conditions experienced by so many of our foremothers more than 100 years ago.

1910: Men 52, Women 55
2010: Men 78, Women 82

1910: 3.5
2010: 1.7

1910: 63% died before 60
2010: 12% die before 60

1910: Boys,John. Girls, Mary
2010: Boys, Jack. Girls, Olivia

21.4%: How much less UK women are paid than men for full-time work
4: Total number of female chief executives of FTSE 100 companies
30,000: Women predicted to lose their jobs each year as a result of becoming pregnant

American Women's Suffrage Came Down to One Man's Vote

Suffragettes hold a jubilee celebrating their victory after the passing of the 19th Amendment.

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By the end of 1919, more than 70 years after the first national woman’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, Congress finally passed a federal women’s suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But the fate of the 19th Amendment all came down to Tennessee.

In the summer of 1920, women’s suffragists and their opponents met in sweltering Nashville, Tennessee, for the climactic clash in a decades-long fight over the American woman’s right to vote. After a dramatic showdown in the state legislature, the Tennessee House voted by the narrowest of margins to pass the amendment on August 18. On August 26—now celebrated as Women’s Equality Day—the 19th Amendment officially became part of the Constitution. By this time, women in New Zealand, Australia, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia and the Netherlands had already gained the right to vote, while 15 states around the country (particularly in the West) had changed their constitutions to give women voting rights. But the 19th Amendment changed the federal laws of the land.

American women lacked not only suffrage, but many other basic rights.
By the early 19th century American women lacked not only suffrage, but many other basic rights. A married woman could not own property or sign a contract she had no right to her wages if she worked, and she had no custodial rights to her own children.

“These women see their place in society as being oppressed," Elaine Weiss, author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, says of Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the other earliest pioneers of the women’s rights movement. Many of them were Quakers, who believed all humans had divine rights, and they began their activist careers as abolitionists, fighting for the liberation of an even more oppressed minority: slaves.

When Mott and Stanton organized the first women’s rights conference at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848, Stanton included a suffrage resolution in her now-famous Declaration of Sentiments, based on the Declaration of Independence. Though most people at the conference thought it was too radical, the resolution passed by a slim margin (in part thanks to the eloquent support of Frederick Douglass) and the demand for the vote would eventually become the central goal of the women’s rights movement.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, founders of The National Woman Suffrage Association, circa 1881. 

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Suffrage for freed slaves, caused a division within the Women’s Rights Movement.
In 1853, Stanton met fellow abolitionist Susan B. Anthony their collaboration would last for more than a half century. After the Civil War, Anthony and Stanton split with other women’s rights advocates during the debate over the new constitutional amendments giving civil and political rights (including suffrage) to newly freed slaves.

Instead, for the first time in the entire Constitution, the proposed 14th Amendment specifically included the phrase “male citizen,” while the 15th Amendment stated that the right to vote cannot be denied on account of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” not mentioning sex. "They assume that after the Civil War. that universal suffrage will be implemented,” Weiss says. 𠇊nd they are very severely disappointed and angered when they&aposre told that&aposs not going to happen."

Douglass and other abolitionists argued that the nation couldn’t handle two enormous reforms at once, and that black men needed these rights in order to survive. Unconvinced, Anthony and Stanton broke away from more moderate women’s rights activists and fought actively against passage of the 15th Amendment, even resorting to racist rhetoric in their fury over uneducated black men winning the vote before educated white women.

Alice Paul and Carrie Chapman Catt emerged as leaders of the different suffrage fractions.

These two competing sides of the women’s rights movement would reunite in 1890, forming the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA). But the movement split once more in the early 20th century, as some younger activists grew impatient with the slow pace of the fight for suffrage, and decided to take a more active approach. "The same splits and tensions happen in Great Britain, which is running a parallel course towards enfranchisement," Weiss points out.

Alice Paul, founder of the new Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (later renamed the National Women’s Party), had studied with the radical Emmeline Pankhurst in Britain, while NAWSA leader Carrie Chapman Catt was close with Millicent Fawcett, leader of the more conservative British suffragist movement. But while Pankhurst’s followers planted bombs and set fires, their American counterparts were far less militant, restricting their tactics to public demonstrations like picketing and parades. "Alice Paul is a Quaker, she doesn&apost believe in violence,” Weiss says. 𠇋ut she does believe in open protest….She&aposs going to make a lot of noise. She&aposs not going to be ladylike. She&aposs not going to ask for the vote, she&aposs going to demand it."

Decades Before They Had the Vote, Women Launched Their Own Stock Exchange

In the 1880s, women were decades away from earning the right to vote. Few owned property, if they were even permitted to do so. In addition to childcare obligations, many toiled in work that was either underpaid, or not paid at all. Essentially, the gears of progress for women were moving slowly in just about every arena of life.

Especially when it came to money.

On Wall Street, Mary Gage found herself frustrated with being shut out of stockbroking on venues like the New York Stock Exchange, the artery of America’s growing place on the international financial stage. So, in 1880, the finance-savvy associate of suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton started her own exchange—just for women—who wanted to use their own money to speculate on railroad stocks.

Previously, women had needed to rely on men to invest their money for them these men pocketed handsome commissions. Gage wanted to cut out the middleman and not only avoid having to pay high commissions, but make her own decisions about how and where she moved money. Gage, like many women of her era, previously had little say in her own finances.

Throughout the 19th century and into the start of the 20th, when Gage and her colleagues formed at least one exchange, stockbroking—the act of buying and selling stocks for a client—was seen as an unseemly pursuit for either gender. Some religions saw it as a form of gambling and an immoral way to make money compared with manual labor.

Two women read ticker-tape in a stock broker’s office in St. Paul, Minnesota, 1929. (Credit: Minnesota Historical Society/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

“It was bad enough that there were men who would do that,” says George Robb, author of Ladies of the Ticker: Women and Wall Street from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression. 𠇋ut women were seen as being purer than men and that they should uphold the purity of the family. They especially shouldn’t be out in the market to make money this way.”

Critics of female stockbrokers tried to dissuade the public from investing money at the exchanges. “People also thought that women were too emotionally unstable, that when the market went up or down they couldn’t handle that𠅋ut men could,” says Robb. 𠇌learly that’s ridiculous.” (If anything, there’s research showing the opposite.)

Wall Street trading floors have long been seen as bastions of testosterone that rewarded, literally, those with sharp elbows who could throw a punch. But since the America’s inception, women like Gage have been essential to the history of finance and stock-trading in the country.

When they couldn’t participate or create their own market, like Gage did, many wielded influence from the sidelines. Abigail Adams had the foresight in her time to see the advantages in trading bonds over farmland and persuaded her husband, John, to do so, according to letters between the two displayed at the Museum of American Finance in New York.

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, circa 1872. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty Images)

Before she made her bid for the U.S presidency in 1872, Victoria Woodhull worked as one of the first female stockbrokers in the country, starting a firm, Woodhull, Claflin & Company, with her sister in 1870. The venture was part of what made her a millionaire by 31, cash that she used to promote her own campaign and other women’s rights-related causes. In finance, she landed clients like the transportation magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, a partnership that led to hefty profits for both of them (and fueled speculation in the media of a romantic liaison).

Unlike Gage, Woodhull had clients that were male and female, and saw her profits as a means to achieve her political goals. “Woman’s ability to earn money is better protection against the tyranny and brutality of men than her ability to vote,” Woodhull stated. “I demand equal pay for equal work.”

In spite of major trades and powerful clients, women in stockbroking were largely considered by their peers and the public to be a joke. When stockbrokers like Gage and Woodhull were written about in their time, it was either as sirens (if young) or witches or hags (if older). Gage herself faced “lunacy proceedings” when she accused a prominent male banker of impeding “her social progress and that of her daughter.” (Gage was arrested, but later deemed “sane.”)

Businesswoman and financier Hetty Green, once hailed as the richest woman in America, pushed societal norms further. In addition to her abundant wealth and miserly attitudes about spending or giving money, Green was known for swearing profusely and moving to ramshackle apartments to avoid tax collectors. Her strategy was one of buy and hold, investing over a long horizon and avoiding the euphoria of speculation, similar to the tactics that would later help Warren Buffett. However, he didn’t earn Green’s nickname: “the Witch of Wall Street.” (When Green died in 1916, her two children funneled some of her wealth into charitable causes.)

Hetty Green. (Credit: Everett Collection Historical/Alamy Stock Photo)

As women continued to struggle for legitimacy on Wall Street, they formed investing clubs in greater numbers starting around the 1920s. At the time, they worked largely in back office positions, but rumors of a woman seeking a seat on the New York Stock Exchange percolated and made the front page of The New York Times on in January 1927. A seat would have represented a trader having a permanent place on the floor, the right to buy and sell shares in the heart of the market. The Times did not even name the female applicant in its story.

“Many women now hold partnerships in Stock Exchange Firms,” The Times noted. “Some are rated as among the best brokers in Wall Street … A great many are known to have made fortunes in the stock market. All commission houses have successful women customers, some notably successful in their market operations.”

However, that woman’s effort to join the NYSE would fall flat. It wasn’t until 40 years later, in 1967, that Muriel “Mickey” Siebert would become the first woman to purchase a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, a job she performed well until her death in 2013 at 84.

While women have made some progress since Gage’s time, a gap remains. Women in finance bore the brunt of layoffs more than their male counterparts during the Great Recession in 2008 and were also more likely to have been in back office jobs that were replaced by computers. Women exclusively manage less than 2 percent of mutual fund assets, according to Morningstar. As the World Economic Forum recently pointed out, one is more likely to find a global hedge fund run by someone named Paul than a woman of any name. At the entry level, 77.5 percent of first-year bankers are men, according to Vettery.

It’s better than in Gage’s time, no doubt, but still would not have been enough for the original women on Wall Street.

Meanwhile, much of Mary Gage’s life has remained a mystery. Today, 71 Broadway in Lower Manhattan, where she once traded, has been converted into a luxury apartment building. There’s some evidence her career inspired others, however. Robb notes that according to the 1886 History of Woman Suffrage, �ter Miss Gage was fairly settled, other women who had labored under the same disadvantages began to drop in, their numbers increasing daily.”

Were women the property of men prior to 1919 in the UK? - History

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Women's rights

Women's suffrage movement

Conversely, the achievements of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), the most radical branch of the women's movement during the early years of the 20th century, have often been overstated - not least by the WSPU's founders and chief supporters, the Pankhursts. Much attention has been focused on the militant campaigns of the WSPU between 1910 and 1914, which included attacks on property and politicians, as well as hunger strikes during imprisonment.

Women and the First World War

The First World War strongly influenced the development of women's rights in 20th-century Britain. It opened up new employment opportunities for many women, who replaced the millions of men sent to fight on the Western Front and elsewhere. Jobs in munitions factories, transport and other key areas that had been dominated by men now became increasingly feminised, and under the Representation of the People Act (1918) the franchise was for the first time extended to women.

1930s and 1940s

The interwar period was marked by an increase in the amount of 'women's legislation' passed by Parliament. It also saw Britain's first female MPs. A huge number of organisations now represented women's interests. These included the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship (the new name given to the NUWSS in 1919), women's trade unions and the Women's Institute.

The postwar world

In political terms, the war helped to revive the women's movement. In particular, the growing consensus in favour of social and welfare reform - as proposed by the Beveridge Report (1942) and the Education Bill (1944) - allowed organisations such as the Equal Pay Campaign Committee to remind the public of ongoing inequalities in the treatment of men and women.

1960s and after

As the experiences of women in Britain during the first half of the 20th century illustrated, there was no inevitable or easy path to the establishment of improved women's rights. This point was re-emphasised by the fact that after the Second World War the feminist movement went into a decline, before emerging once more in the 'new feminism' of the 1960s. Despite the substantial achievements of the women's movement in the 20th century, few people would deny that equality of the sexes is still some way from being accomplished in 21st-century Britain.

Material culture

Inscriptions on jewellery and similar items are another important source for female written culture in Anglo-Saxon England. The gold and garnet brooch found at Harford Farm in Norfolk was made for a woman who lived in the early 7th century, at a time when the English were beginning to convert to Christianity.

This brooch was inscribed with writing in runes its gold and garnet decoration resembles items found in Kent, Francia and the Low Countries, and it shows connections between members of the upper levels of society who lived in the regions surrounding the North Sea.

Harford Farm brooch

This brooch was found in a grave at Harford Farm cemetery, near Norwich, Norfolk, where it had been buried with its wealthy female owner towards the end of the 7th century (Norwich Castle Museum, 1994.5.78)

The Ædwen Brooch was made for a woman of that name in the 11th century. In contrast with the Harford Farm Brooch, Ædwen’s brooch has writing in the Latin alphabet and the text includes references to the Christian God.

Ædwen brooch

The inscription reads &lsquoÆdwen owns me, may the Lord own her. May the Lord curse him who takes me from her, unless she gives me of her own free will&rsquo (British Museum, BEP 1951,1011.1)

Its decoration also bears witness to changes that had taken place in East Anglia in the intervening centuries. The animals incised on the front of the brooch resemble motifs found in Scandinavian art, since that region had been invaded by Viking forces and had experienced Scandinavian settlement in the 9th century.

Also on this brooch is foliage which resembles manuscripts made in Wessex, reflecting the fact that by the 10th century, East Anglia had come under the dominion of the West Saxon kings, now rulers of all England.

Alison Hudson is Project Curator of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts at the British Library, working on the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms exhibition. Her doctoral research at the University of Oxford focused on the English Benedictine reform movement in the 10th century.

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