Gustafson, Melanie Susan. Women and the Republican Party, 1854-1924. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Randolph Hollingsworth's picture

Author: Gustafson, Melanie Susan.

Title: Women and the Republican Party, 1854-1924.

Publisher: Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

This is a rich and expansive perspective on women's suffrage history as it explores the work of political women in national parties from the founding of the Republican Party through to the rise and fall of the Progressive Party and the ascendency of the Democratic Party. The author weaves together the interactions of partisan politics with the African-American women's club movement, the temperance movement as well. As Michael Lewis Goldberg wrote in his review of this book: "It says something about the distance that women's history still has to travel that Melanie Gustafson's book is the first full-length treatment of women in the Republican Party from its founding through the Progressive Era (447)." Gustafson's introduction explains too what resounds throughout her history of the Republican Party in its early days - that women in politics encountered regularly an amnesia as to their contributions. "It is a lack of history. This lack of history has meant that the public continually oberves the political woman as an awkward, illegitimate, or misbetten phenomenon ... and it has helped to keep women on the peripheries of partisan politics. The absense of history, of a social memory, has meant that women have had to repeatedly establish and prove, to themselves and to others, that they have the ability to make political contributions and the right to pursue their individual political paths (4-5)." Given the scarcity of women in Kentucky political office, this remains true nearly two decades later.

N.B. This post is to support the further development of an Annotated Bibliography for the Kentucky Woman Suffrage Project (KWSP). To see the full list of resources, please visit the KWSP Bibliography Project webpage.