Publication date: February 2008
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Class and Gender Politics in Progressive-Era Seattle
The dawn of the twentieth century saw enormous changes throughout the United States, reflecting technological advances, population growth, widespread industrialization, and the establishment of a national market economy. In the Far West, these changes, combined with the rapid westward expansion of advanced capitalism and the impact of national political and economic pressures, brought with them a period of political conflict, social upheavals, and labor struggles.
Seattle boomed during this period. By the end of the nineteenth century, the city was home to several powerful and influential labor organizations, as well as a vibrant middle-class feminist movement. In this turbulent interface of class, gender, politics, and sometimes race, residents struggled to cope with a changing social order and with differing, and at times conflicting, visions of what the West was supposed to be.
In this book, historian John C. Putman expands our understanding of the roles that gender and class played in the construction of progressive politics. He also shows how regional differences—in this case, the unique environment of the Pacific Northwest—contributed to Seattle’s economic and political development.
"...This book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of how women and workers in an urban community that was struggling with growing pains attempted to set the agenda for urban politics."
—Western Historical Quarterly
“Putman skillfully chronicles how labor and women’s groups (representing both middle- and lower-income women) worked together to promote reform in Seattle before World War I. To my knowledge, there is no book set in the urban West that examines the political relationships between these groups and certainly none that does with the analytical prowess of Putman’s.”
—Eugene P. Moehring, author of Urbanism and Empire in the Far West, 1840-1890
“What this book has to offer, in contrast to the existent literature, is a study of Seattle, an important urban center where major labor conflicts of the early twentieth century occurred in a state that granted women suffrage early and in which women’s organizations had important influence and power. John Putman places this study in the context of the expanding field of western history and connects his work to it by emphasizing ‘the New West’ as a focus for both historical development and scholarly attention.”
—Elizabeth V. Faue, author of Community of Suffering and Struggle: Women, Men, and theLabor Movement in Minneapolis, 1915-1945