Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Transition of the Roles of Women BY: Charles Dobner

The Victorian Era brought along many changes to the American society, especially when it comes to the roles of women. Around the start of the Victorian Era, mid 1830’s, The Second Great Awakening was at its peak. This religious movement swept the nation and encouraged its followers to take their future into their own hands. This thought was mainly about salvation and how anyone could be saved. However, many women took this as hope that they too could take control of their futures.[1]
            Before this movement, up until the 1830’s, women of all color had been neglected in society by politicians and businesses. Being a woman at this time was almost like being black to a certain point because both were being denied rights they believed they were born with. This led to both groups attending evangelical meetings in vast numbers throughout the 1800’s. From these groups evolved strong movements of feminists and abolitionists.  The Second Great Awakening shown a much more optimistic view of the human nature in stressing the idea of “free will” that many women and blacks relied on.[2]
The extreme change of a woman’s role in this new era led to a whole new American society. An almost immediate change that we notice in our history due to this “awakening” is the change of family size. Women started using birth control as well as other forms of contraception. With a limited family size, women started taking up other roles in society besides child-bearing and raising. Women in the Colonial era had only a few other jobs that included maintaining household order and encouraging moral development. But in Victorian America, women began seizing opportunities and standing up for themselves. Towards the late 1800’s, women in high school had a higher graduation rate than men. Going in to the 1900’s, women were starting to gain acceptance in the workplace and even advancing where they worked. Between the years 1880 and 1910, the amount of working women went from 2.6 million to 7.8 million. Women had also gained the right to vote through the 19th Amendment by 1919.[3]
            The changes in society that America was faced with in the Victorian Era are still very evident today. Women are continually fighting for equal rights and opportunities today. Blacks also gained their freedoms and rights due to the progressive age in the United States. It’s amazing to think how far our country has come in the last 150 years and who knows what will change by tomorrow.

[1] “ Religious Transformation and the Second Great Awakening.” U.S. History. February 26, 2014,
[2] “Gender Roles in Colonial America.” Gettysburg. February 26, 2014,
[3] “Women’s Suffrage in Progressive Era.” Library of Congress. February 26, 2014,

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