1926 January 19

National Woman’s Party Protests Exclusion From Conference on Protective Legislation for Women


Members of the National Woman’s Party on this day protested their exclusion from at three-day Women’s Industrial Conference in Washington, DC. At issue was the clash between protective legislation for female workers, which organizers of the conference supported, and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would guarantee equality to women, and which Alice Paul, founder of the National Woman’s Party had drafted (July 23, 1923).

From the 1920s through the early 1960s, virtually all liberal women’s groups supported protective legislation for women workers, setting minimum standards for hours and conditions of work, and opposed the ERA. The ERA did not win broad acceptance until the emergence of a revived women’s rights movement in the 1960s (June 30, 1966).

Supporters of protective legislation at the conference included the federal Women’s Burea (a part of the US Department of Labor), Mary Van Kleeck of the Russell Sage Foundation, Frances Perkins of the New York State Industrial Commission (and future Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt [March 4, 1933]), and Agnes Nestor, president of the Chicago Women’s Trade Union League.

Learn about Alice Paul: Jill Zahniser and Amelia Fry, Alice Paul: Claiming Power (2014)

Read: Christine A. Lunardini, From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, 1910–1928 (1986)

Learn about the history of the National Woman’s Party here.

Visit the U.S. Park Service Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls: http://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm


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