Marital Status of Voters 2004 - History

Marital Status of Voters 2004 - History

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The Fight for Women's Rights in the Past and Present

The meaning of "women's rights" has varied through time and across cultures. Today, there is still a lack of consensus about what constitutes women's rights. Some would argue a woman's ability to control family size is a fundamental women's right. Others would argue women's rights fall under workplace equality or the chance to serve in the military in the same ways that men do. Many would argue that all of the above should be deemed women's rights.

The term typically refers to whether women are treated as men's equals, but sometimes it specifically refers to special circumstances that affect women, such as job protection when they take time off for maternity leave, though men in the U.S. are increasingly taking paternity leave. While men and women may both be victims of social ills and violence related to human trafficking and rape, protection against these crimes is often described as beneficial to women's rights.

The implementation of various laws and policies over the years paints a historical picture of the benefits that were considered to be "women's rights" at one time. Societies in the ancient, classical, and medieval worlds show how women's rights, even if not referred to by that term, differed from culture to culture.

Early Women’s Rights Activists Wanted Much More than Suffrage

This may sound odd coming from a scholar of women’s history and a newly minted legislator, but I think we’ve heard enough about women’s suffrage.

When New York State recently marked the 100th anniversary of its passage of women’s right to vote, I ought to have joined the celebrations enthusiastically. Not only have I spent 20 years teaching women’s history, but last year’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C. was one of the most energizing experiences of my life. Like thousands of others inspired by the experience, I jumped into electoral politics, and with the help of many new friends, I took the oath of office as a Dutchess County, New York legislator at the start of 2018.

So why do women’s suffrage anniversaries make me yawn? Because suffrage—which still dominates our historical narrative of American women’s rights�ptures such a small part of what women need to celebrate and work for. And it isn’t just commemorative events. Textbooks and popular histories alike frequently describe a �ttle for the ballot” that allegedly began with the famous 1848 convention at Seneca Falls and ended in 1920 with adoption of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For the long era in between, authors have treated “women’s rights” and “suffrage” as nearly synonymous terms. For a historian, women’s suffrage is the equivalent of the Eagles’ “Hotel California”: a song you loved the first few times you first heard it, until you realized it was hopelessly overplayed.

A closer look at Seneca Falls shows how little attention the participants actually focused on suffrage. Only one of their 11 resolutions referred to “the sacred right to the elective franchise.” The Declaration of Sentiments, written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and modeled on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, protested women’s lack of access to higher education, the professions and “nearly all the profitable employments,” observing that most women who worked for wages received 𠇋ut scanty remuneration.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. (Credit: GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

Emancipation for Women

Most of all, the Declaration protested coverture, the legal doctrine that treated a married woman’s possessions, wages, body and children as property of her husband, available for him to use as he pleased. Coverture gave husbands total control𠅏rom finances and place of residency to wife-beating and marital rape. A wife, as Stanton wrote, was 𠇌ompelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master.”

In using such language, pre-Civil War women’s-rights advocates of course referenced an even more extreme form of oppression, racial slavery, the legal basis for which also rested on men’s control over women. Partus sequitur ventrem—the legal doctrine that “progeny follows the womb”—perpetuated slavery across the generations by assigning infants at birth to their mothers’ owners. (Notoriously, those owners had sometimes fathered the children they claimed as property.) Though mentioned briefly at Seneca Falls, slavery received far more emphasis at the first national women’s-rights convention, held at Worcester, Massachusetts in 1850. “The cause we are met to advocate,” Worcester delegates declared, “𠉫ids us remember the million and a half of slave women at the South, the most grossly wronged and foully outraged of all women and in every effort for an improvement in our civilization, we will bear in our heart of hearts the…trampled womanhood of the plantation, and omit no effort to raise it to a share in the rights we claim for ourselves.”

These women never saw suffrage as their only goal or even their main one. The combined injustices of marital coverture, racism, economic oppression and sexual violence were more central to their vision.

Indeed, the 19th Amendment wasn’t a global fix. Passed in the Jim Crow Era, it did little to expand political rights for African-American women in the South, who remained disfranchised until the later civil rights movement. White Southern suffragists, in fact, argued that their states should ratify the amendment because only white women would be enfranchised𠅊nd their votes could help bolster white supremacy. In the South, especially, some white women who worked for the vote went on to advocate restrictive anti-immigrant legislation or even join the Ku Klux Klan.

Beyond suffrage, 19th-century American feminists worked more broadly for what they often called “women’s emancipation.” The heroes of that movement include not only Stanton and Susan B. Anthony but also Harriet Jacobs and Frances Watkins Harper, who testified against slavery—including the sexual exploitation of enslaved women and the legal denial of their right to protect their children. After Emancipation, racial-justice activism continued with the leadership of such women as Mary Church Terrell, leader of the National Association of Colored Women and a co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Such women always treated racial justice and women’s rights as interlinked goals.

Zitkala-Sa, Native American author and lecturer, 1926. (Credit: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

Historians of women’s rights have also devoted much attention lately to the American West. There, removal of native peoples was accompanied by widespread rape of native women as well as sexual exploitation of desperate, often starving, indigenous wives and mothers whose plight was as harrowing as that of any refugee today. In some places (like California, as Stacey Smith shows in her haunting book Freedom’s Frontier), white conquerors undertook the long-term enslavement of indigenous women and children. This history, long soft-pedaled in textbooks, calls our attention to feminist heroes like Paiute activist Sarah Winnemucca and Dakota author Zitkala-Sa.

While American women have never been a unified political force, some began early to work across race and class lines to address shared issues. Before the Civil War, abolitionist women helped build the first cross-racial American movement for social justice. As early as 1848, when Seneca Falls delegates called for access to education and professional careers, working-class women had already launched fights for fair, equal wages and workplaces free of sexual harassment.

Tenement house residents in New York, 1899. This illustration appeared in the book �rkness and Daylight: Lights and Shadows of New York Life’ by Helen Campbell. (Credit: Interim Archives/Getty Images)

The Power of Personal Testimony

Women in these movements sometimes marched, but that was just one arrow in their activist quiver. Personal testimony also played a powerful role in advancing women’s rights. (“Testimony, testimony is the great desideratum,” abolitionist Theodore Weld advised the sisters Angelina and Sarah Grimké, exiles from South Carolina who could speak from personal experience about the horrors of slavery that they witnessed.) In the late 1800s, labor leaders such as Leonora Barry and Eva Valesh interviewed women workers to expose conditions they faced on the job. Journalist Helen Campbell conducted similar investigations in tenement districts, publishing women’s household budgets to show affluent readers what challenges their poorer sisters faced. Author Dorothy Richardson went undercover to work in dangerous and low-paid industries and reported her experiences in The Long Day, published in 1905.

Most courageous were the anti-lynching investigations of African-American journalist Ida B. Wells, who in the 1890s and early 1900s undertook a one-woman crusade to expose the causes of racial violence in the South. Wells proved again and again that lynchings were not precipitated by rape, as Southern apologists claimed, but by whites’ insistence on keeping the political and economic upper hand𠅊nd sometimes by their anger at consensual interracial relationships.

On the all-important issues of marriage and coverture, both women and men engaged in direct action. Feminists Lucy Stone and Henry Blackwell issued the most famous “marriage protest” at their wedding on March 1, 1855, publicly rejecting the fundamental unfairness of Massachusetts marriage law. “While we acknowledge our mutual affection,” they wrote, 𠇋y publicly assuming the relationship of husband and wife,” they vowed to uphold a “great principle” by rejecting all “such of the present laws of marriage, as refuse to recognize the wife as an independent, rational being, while they confer upon the husband an injurious and unnatural superiority, investing him with legal powers which no honorable man would exercise, and which no man should possess.”

Portrait of American journalist, suffragist and progressive activist Ida B. Wells, circa 1890. (Credit: R. Gates/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

R. Gates/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Putting Sex in the Conversation

Given the diverse struggles for women’s emancipation, can we find a coherent way to tell this history that doesn’t overemphasize the fight for the vote? One approach is to reflect on sex and reproduction—issues that suffragists rarely discussed, since only “respectable” women could make claims to civic authority. By the tenets of 19th-century domesticity, such “ladies” could exercise political influence because of their piety, purity and devotion to motherhood and the home. Any hint of sexuality stigmatized women and discredited the causes they worked for. (Given how Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign was tainted even by her husband’s infidelities, this seems to be an continuing problem.)

The dilemma wasn’t so obvious in the decades before the Civil War, when “marriage guides” and other information on sexual pleasure and fertility control circulated fairly widely. Charles Knowlton’s Fruits of Philosophy, the first American birth-control manual, went through dozens of editions after its publication in 1832. Among married couples in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest, abortion became so widely practiced that doctors estimated one in three pregnancies was ending in abortion, obtained through both surgeries and mail-order abortifacient drugs. Lecturers gave talks on family limitation as April Haynes shows in her book Riotous Flesh, women in Northeastern towns and cities formed “physiological societies” to share information about sexuality, pregnancy and childbirth (though their curriculum included stern warnings about the dangers of masturbation). Many women viewed this as part of their broader campaign for women’s rights.

Two events in the 1870s sharply curtailed such open conversations. First, suffrage activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton made a temporary but ill-fated alliance with glamorous 𠇏ree love” advocate Victoria Woodhull during her moment of national celebrity in the 1870s. Stanton, in particular, was smitten by Woodhull’s bold libertarian attack on marriage. “Governments,” Woodhull declared, “might just as well assume to determine how people shall exercise their right to think𠉪s to assume to determine that they shall not love, or how they may love, or that they shall love.” She topped this with a ringing declaration of her own sexual freedom: “Yes, I am a Free Lover. I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may… to change that love every day if I please, and…neither you nor any law you can frame have any right to interfere.”

Marital Status of Voters 2004 - History

Photo Credit: Jacob Eidinger

The New York City Human Rights Law (Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York) prohibits discrimination in New York City, in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Protected classes in these areas are noted below. The New York City Human Rights Law also protects against discriminatory lending practices, retaliation, discriminatory harassment, and bias-based profiling by law enforcement.

A complaint must be filed with the Commission within one year of the last alleged act of discrimination (or three years for cases involving gender-based harassment). The alleged act of discrimination must have taken place within, or have sufficient connection to, New York City for a complaint to be filed with the Commission.

Protected Classes under the Human Rights Law:

Additional protections in employment:

Additional protected classes in housing:


It is against the Law for anyone&mdashyour employer, your landlord, or anyone else to whom the New York City Human Rights Law applies&mdashto retaliate against you because you:

  • Opposed an unlawful discriminatory practice
  • Made a charge or filed a complaint of discrimination with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, your employer, or any other agency
  • Testified, assisted, or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing relating to something prohibited by the NYC Human Rights Law

The Law protects you against retaliation as long as you have a reasonable good faith belief that the persons&rsquo conduct is illegal, even if it turns out that you were mistaken.

Employment Protections under the Human Rights Law

The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in:

  • Hiring, including in job postings and interviews
  • Salary and benefits
  • Performance evaluations
  • Promotions and demotions
  • Discipline and firing
  • Any decisions that affect the terms and conditions of employment

Reasonable Accommodations in Employment

In employment, a reasonable accommodation is a change made to the work schedule or duties of an employee to accommodate their specific needs and allow them to do their job. An employer must provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer, for the following protected classes:

  • Disability: Employers must make reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of individuals who have a physical, medical, mental or psychological impairment, or a history or record of such impairment.
  • Pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition: Employers must make reasonable accommodations to individuals based on their pregnancy, childbirth, recovery from childbirth, or medical condition related to their pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Religious observance: Employers must make reasonable accommodations for the religious needs of employees and job applicants, including the observance of the Sabbath and other holy days.
  • Status as victim of domestic violence, sexual violence, or stalking: Employers must make reasonable accommodations to the needs of individuals who are or have been subject to certain acts or threats of violence.
  • Lactation: Employers are required to provide employees with lactation accommodations, including a lactation room where employees can pump/express breast milk, and reasonable time to pump/express breast milk.

Housing protections under the Human Rights Law

The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in:

  • Leasing and sales, including in advertisements and interviews
  • Rental and sale, including the terms, conditions, or privileges thereof
  • Steering people toward or away from certain neighborhoods
  • Mortgages and loans, including the terms
  • Any decisions that affect the terms and conditions of your housing

Reasonable Accommodations in Housing

In housing, a reasonable accommodation is a change made to the environment, terms, or privileges of a housing accommodation to accommodate an actual or potential resident&rsquos disability. A housing provider must provide and pay for reasonable accommodations unless doing so would create an undue hardship.

Public accommodations protections under the Human Rights Law

The New York City Human Rights Law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, such as restaurants, stores, hospitals, museums, and theaters, among others.

Reasonable Accommodations in Public Places

A reasonable accommodation is a change made to the environment, terms, or privileges of a public accommodation to accommodate a patron or customer with a disability. A provider of public accommodations must provide and pay for reasonable accommodations unless doing so would create an undue hardship.

Marital Status of Voters 2004 - History

WOMEN'S RIGHTS . Throughout most of history women generally have had fewer legal rights and career opportunities than men. Wifehood and motherhood were regarded as women's most significant professions. In the 20th century, however, women in most nations won the right to vote and increased their educational and job opportunities. Perhaps most important, they fought for and to a large degree accomplished a reevaluation of traditional views of their role in society.

Early Attitudes Toward Women

Since early times women have been uniquely viewed as a creative source of human life. Historically, however, they have been considered not only intellectually inferior to men but also a major source of temptation and evil. In Greek mythology, for example, it was a woman, Pandora, who opened the forbidden box and brought plagues and unhappiness to mankind. Early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men.

Early Christian theology perpetuated these views. St. Jerome, a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church, said: "Woman is the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word a perilous object." Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century Christian theologian, said that woman was "created to be man's helpmeet, but her unique role is in conception . . . since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men."

The attitude toward women in the East was at first more favorable. In ancient India, for example, women were not deprived of property rights or individual freedoms by marriage. But Hinduism, which evolved in India after about 500 BC, required obedience of women toward men. Women had to walk behind their husbands. Women could not own property, and widows could not remarry. In both East and West, male children were preferred over female children.

Nevertheless, when they were allowed personal and intellectual freedom, women made significant achievements. During the Middle Ages nuns played a key role in the religious life of Europe. Aristocratic women enjoyed power and prestige. Whole eras were influenced by women rulers for instance, Queen Elizabeth of England in the 16th century, Catherine the Great of Russia in the 18th century, and Queen Victoria of England in the 19th century.

The Weaker Sex?

Women were long considered naturally weaker than men, squeamish, and unable to perform work requiring muscular or intellectual development. In most preindustrial societies, for example, domestic chores were relegated to women, leaving "heavier" labor such as hunting and plowing to men. This ignored the fact that caring for children and doing such tasks as milking cows and washing clothes also required heavy, sustained labor. But physiological tests now suggest that women have a greater tolerance for pain, and statistics reveal that women live longer and are more resistant to many diseases.

Maternity, the natural biological role of women, has traditionally been regarded as their major social role as well. The resulting stereotype that "a woman's place is in the home" has largely determined the ways in which women have expressed themselves. Today, contraception and, in some areas, legalized abortion have given women greater control over the number of children they will bear. Although these developments have freed women for roles other than motherhood, the cultural pressure for women to become wives and mothers still prevents many talented women from finishing college or pursuing careers.

Traditionally a middle-class girl in Western culture tended to learn from her mother's example that cooking, cleaning, and caring for children was the behavior expected of her when she grew up. Tests made in the 1960s showed that the scholastic achievement of girls was higher in the early grades than in high school. The major reason given was that the girls' own expectations declined because neither their families nor their teachers expected them to prepare for a future other than that of marriage and motherhood. This trend has been changing in recent decades.

Formal education for girls historically has been secondary to that for boys. In colonial America girls learned to read and write at dame schools. They could attend the master's schools for boys when there was room, usually during the summer when most of the boys were working. By the end of the 19th century, however, the number of women students had increased greatly. Higher education particularly was broadened by the rise of women's colleges and the admission of women to regular colleges and universities. In 1870 an estimated one fifth of resident college and university students were women. By 1900 the proportion had increased to more than one third.

Women obtained 19 percent of all undergraduate college degrees around the beginning of the 20th century. By 1984 the figure had sharply increased to 49 percent. Women also increased their numbers in graduate study. By the mid-1980s women were earning 49 percent of all master's degrees and about 33 percent of all doctoral degrees. In 1985 about 53 percent of all college students were women, more than one quarter of whom were above age 29.

The Legal Status of Women

The myth of the natural inferiority of women greatly influenced the status of women in law. Under the common law of England, an unmarried woman could own property, make a contract, or sue and be sued. But a married woman, defined as being one with her husband, gave up her name, and virtually all her property came under her husband's control.

During the early history of the United States, a man virtually owned his wife and children as he did his material possessions. If a poor man chose to send his children to the poorhouse, the mother was legally defenseless to object. Some communities, however, modified the common law to allow women to act as lawyers in the courts, to sue for property, and to own property in their own names if their husbands agreed.

Equity law, which developed in England, emphasized the principle of equal rights rather than tradition. Equity law had a liberalizing effect upon the legal rights of women in the United States. For instance, a woman could sue her husband. Mississippi in 1839, followed by New York in 1848 and Massachusetts in 1854, passed laws allowing married women to own property separate from their husbands. In divorce law, however, generally the divorced husband kept legal control of both children and property.

In the 19th century, women began working outside their homes in large numbers, notably in textile mills and garment shops. In poorly ventilated, crowded rooms women (and children) worked for as long as 12 hours a day. Great Britain passed a ten-hour-day law for women and children in 1847, but in the United States it was not until the 1910s that the states began to pass legislation limiting working hours and improving working conditions of women and children.

Eventually, however, some of these labor laws were seen as restricting the rights of working women. For instance, laws prohibiting women from working more than an eight-hour day or from working at night effectively prevented women from holding many jobs, particularly supervisory positions, that might require overtime work. Laws in some states prohibited women from lifting weights above a certain amount varying from as little as 15 pounds (7 kilograms) again barring women from many jobs.

During the 1960s several federal laws improving the economic status of women were passed. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 required equal wages for men and women doing equal work. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination against women by any company with 25 or more employees. A Presidential Executive Order in 1967 prohibited bias against women in hiring by federal government contractors.

But discrimination in other fields persisted. Many retail stores would not issue independent credit cards to married women. Divorced or single women often found it difficult to obtain credit to purchase a house or a car. Laws concerned with welfare, crime, prostitution, and abortion also displayed a bias against women. In possible violation of a woman's right to privacy, for example, a mother receiving government welfare payments was subject to frequent investigations in order to verify her welfare claim. Sex discrimination in the definition of crimes existed in some areas of the United States. A woman who shot and killed her husband would be accused of homicide, but the shooting of a wife by her husband could be termed a "passion shooting." Only in 1968, for another example, did the Pennsylvania courts void a state law which required that any woman convicted of a felony be sentenced to the maximum punishment prescribed by law. Often women prostitutes were prosecuted although their male customers were allowed to go free. In most states abortion was legal only if the mother's life was judged to be physically endangered. In 1973, however, the United States Supreme Court ruled that states could not restrict a woman's right to an abortion in her first three months of pregnancy.

Until well into the 20th century, women in Western European countries lived under many of the same legal disabilities as women in the United States. For example, until 1935, married women in England did not have the full right to own property and to enter into contracts on a par with unmarried women. Only after 1920 was legislation passed to provide working women with employment opportunities and pay equal to men. Not until the early 1960s was a law passed that equalized pay scales for men and women in the British civil service.

Women at Work

In colonial America, women who earned their own living usually became seamstresses or kept boardinghouses. But some women worked in professions and jobs available mostly to men. There were women doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers, writers, and singers. By the early 19th century, however, acceptable occupations for working women were limited to factory labor or domestic work. Women were excluded from the professions, except for writing and teaching.

The medical profession is an example of changed attitudes in the 19th and 20th centuries about what was regarded as suitable work for women. Prior to the 1800s there were almost no medical schools, and virtually any enterprising person could practice medicine. Indeed, obstetrics was the domain of women.

Beginning in the 19th century, the required educational preparation, particularly for the practice of medicine, increased. This tended to prevent many young women, who married early and bore many children, from entering professional careers. Although home nursing was considered a proper female occupation, nursing in hospitals was done almost exclusively by men. Specific discrimination against women also began to appear. For example, the American Medical Association, founded in 1846, barred women from membership. Barred also from attending "men's" medical colleges, women enrolled in their own for instance, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, which was established in 1850. By the 1910s, however, women were attending many leading medical schools, and in 1915 the American Medical Association began to admit women members.

In 1890, women constituted about 5 percent of the total doctors in the United States. During the 1980s the proportion was about 17 percent. At the same time the percentage of women doctors was about 19 percent in West Germany and 20 percent in France. In Israel, however, about 32 percent of the total number of doctors and dentists were women.

Women also had not greatly improved their status in other professions. In 1930 about 2 percent of all American lawyers and judges were women in 1989, about 22 percent. In 1930 there were almost no women engineers in the United States. In 1989 the proportion of women engineers was only 7.5 percent.

In contrast, the teaching profession was a large field of employment for women. In the late 1980s more than twice as many women as men taught in elementary and high schools. In higher education, however, women held only about one third of the teaching positions, concentrated in such fields as education, social service, home economics, nursing, and library science. A small proportion of women college and university teachers were in the physical sciences, engineering, agriculture, and law.

The great majority of women who work are still employed in clerical positions, factory work, retail sales, and service jobs. Secretaries, bookkeepers, and typists account for a large portion of women clerical workers. Women in factories often work as machine operators, assemblers, and inspectors. Many women in service jobs work as waitresses, cooks, hospital attendants, cleaning women, and hairdressers.

During wartime women have served in the armed forces. In the United States during World War II almost 300,000 women served in the Army and Navy, performing such noncombatant jobs as secretaries, typists, and nurses. Many European women fought in the underground resistance movements during World War II. In Israel women are drafted into the armed forces along with men and receive combat training.

Women constituted more than 45 percent of employed persons in the United States in 1989, but they had only a small share of the decision-making jobs. Although the number of women working as managers, officials, and other administrators has been increasing, in 1989 they were outnumbered about 1.5 to 1 by men. Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, women in 1970 were paid about 45 percent less than men for the same jobs in 1988, about 32 percent less. Professional women did not get the important assignments and promotions given to their male colleagues. Many cases before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1970 were registered by women charging sex discrimination in jobs.

Working women often faced discrimination on the mistaken belief that, because they were married or would most likely get married, they would not be permanent workers. But married women generally continued on their jobs for many years and were not a transient, temporary, or undependable work force. From 1960 to the early 1970s the influx of married women workers accounted for almost half of the increase in the total labor force, and working wives were staying on their jobs longer before starting families. The number of elderly working also increased markedly.

Since 1960 more and more women with children have been in the work force. This change is especially dramatic for married women with children under age 6: 12 percent worked in 1950, 45 percent in 1980, and 57 percent in 1987. Just over half the mothers with children under age 3 were in the labor force in 1987. Black women with children are more likely to work than are white or Hispanic women who have children. Over half of all black families with children are maintained by the mother only, compared with 18 percent of white families with children.

Despite their increased presence in the work force, most women still have primary responsibility for housework and family care. In the late 1970s men with an employed wife spent only about 1.4 hours a week more on household tasks than those whose wife was a full-time homemaker.

A crucial issue for many women is maternity leave, or time off from their jobs after giving birth. By federal law a full-time worker is entitled to time off and a job when she returns, but few states by the early 1990s required that the leave be paid. Many countries, including Mexico, India, Germany, Brazil, and Australia require companies to grant 12-week maternity leaves at full pay.

Women in Politics

American women have had the right to vote since 1920, but their political roles have been minimal. Not until 1984 did a major party choose a woman Geraldine Ferraro of New York to run for vice-president (see Ferraro).

Jeanette Rankin of Montana, elected in 1917, was the first woman member of the United States House of Representatives. In 1968 Shirley Chisholm of New York was the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives (see Chisholm). Hattie Caraway of Arkansas first appointed in 1932 was, in 1933, the first woman elected to the United States Senate. Senator Margaret Chase Smith served Maine for 24 years (1949-73). Others were Maurine Neuberger of Oregon, Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas, Paula Hawkins of Florida, and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.

Wives of former governors became the first women governors Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas (1925-27 and 1933-35) and Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming (1925-27) (see Ross, Nellie Tayloe). In 1974 Ella T. Grasso of Connecticut won a governorship on her own merits.

In 1971 Patience Sewell Latting was elected mayor of Oklahoma City, at that time the largest city in the nation with a woman mayor. By 1979 two major cities were headed by women: Chicago, by Jane Byrne, and San Francisco, by Dianne Feinstein. Sharon Pratt Dixon was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., in 1990.

Frances Perkins was the first woman Cabinet member as secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Oveta Culp Hobby was secretary of health, education, and welfare in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Cabinet. Carla A. Hills was secretary of housing and urban development in Gerald R. Ford's Cabinet. Jimmy Carter chose two women for his original Cabinet Juanita M. Kreps as secretary of commerce and Patricia Roberts Harris as secretary of housing and urban development. Harris was the first African American woman in a presidential Cabinet. When the separate Department of Education was created, Carter named Shirley Mount Hufstedler to head it. Ronald Reagan's Cabinet included Margaret Heckler, secretary of health and human services, and Elizabeth Dole, secretary of transportation. Under George Bush, Dole became secretary of labor she was succeeded by Representative Lynn Martin. Bush chose Antonia Novello, a Hispanic, for surgeon general in 1990.

Reagan set a precedent with his appointment in 1981 of Sandra Day O'Connor as the first woman on the United States Supreme Court (see O'Connor). The next year Bertha Wilson was named to the Canadian Supreme Court. In 1984 Jeanne Sauve became Canada's first female governor-general (see Sauve).

In international affairs, Eleanor Roosevelt was appointed to the United Nations in 1945 and served as chairman of its Commission on Human Rights (see Roosevelt, Eleanor). Eugenie Anderson was sent to Denmark in 1949 as the first woman ambassador from the United States. Jeane Kirkpatrick was named ambassador to the United Nations in 1981.

Three women held their countries' highest elective offices by 1970. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was prime minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from 1960 to 1965 and from 1970 to 1977 (see Bandaranaike). Indira Gandhi was prime minister of India from 1966 to 1977 and from 1980 until her assassination in 1984 (see Gandhi, Indira). Golda Meir was prime minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974 (see Meir). The first woman head of state in the Americas was Juan Peron's widow, Isabel, president of Argentina in 1974-76 (see Peron). Elisabeth Domitien was premier of the Central African Republic in 1975-76. Margaret Thatcher, who first became prime minister of Great Britain in 1979, was the only person in the 20th century to be reelected to that office for a third consecutive term (see Thatcher). Also in 1979, Simone Weil of France became the first president of the European Parliament.

In the early 1980s Vigdis Finnbogadottir was elected president of Iceland Gro Harlem Brundtland, prime minister of Norway and Milka Planinc, premier of Yugoslavia. In 1986 Corazon Aquino became president of the Philippines (see Aquino). From 1988 to 1990 Benazir Bhutto was prime minister of Pakistan the first woman to head a Muslim nation (see Bhutto).

In 1990 Mary Robinson was elected president of Ireland and Violeta Chamorro, of Nicaragua. Australia's first female premier was Carmen Lawrence of Western Australia (1990), and Canada's was Rita Johnston of British Columbia (1991). In 1991 Khaleda Zia became the prime minister of Bangladesh and Socialist Edith Cresson was named France's first female premier. Poland's first female prime minister, Hanna Suchocka, was elected in 1992.

Feminist Philosophies

At the end of the 18th century, individual liberty was being hotly debated. In 1789, during the French Revolution, Olympe de Gouges published a 'Declaration of the Rights of Woman' to protest the revolutionists' failure to mention women in their 'Declaration of the Rights of Man'. In 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women' (1792) Mary Wollstonecraft called for enlightenment of the female mind.

Margaret Fuller, one of the earliest female reporters, wrote 'Woman in the Nineteenth Century' in 1845. She argued that individuals had unlimited capacities and that when people's roles were defined according to their sex, human development was severely limited.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a leading theoretician of the women's rights movement. Her 'Woman's Bible', published in parts in 1895 and 1898, attacked what she called the male bias of the Bible. Contrary to most of her religious female colleagues, she believed further that organized religion would have to be abolished before true emancipation for women could be achieved. (See also Stanton, Elizabeth Cady.)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman characterized the home as inefficient compared with the mass-production techniques of the modern factory. She contended, in books like 'Women and Economics' (1898), that women should share the tasks of homemaking, with the women best suited to cook, to clean, and to care for young children doing each respective task.

Politically, many feminists believed that a cooperative society based on socialist economic principles would respect the rights of women. The Socialist Labor party, in 1892, was one of the first national political parties in the United States to include woman suffrage as a plank in its platform.

During the early 20th century the term new woman came to be used in the popular press. More young women than ever were going to school, working both in blue- and white-collar jobs, and living by themselves in city apartments. Some social critics feared that feminism, which they interpreted to mean the end of the home and family, was triumphing. Actually, the customary habits of American women were changing little. Although young people dated more than their parents did and used the automobile to escape parental supervision, most young women still married and became the traditional housewives and mothers.

Women in Reform Movements

Women in the United States during the 19th century organized and participated in a great variety of reform movements to improve education, to initiate prison reform, to ban alcoholic drinks, and, during the pre-Civil War period, to free the slaves.

At a time when it was not considered respectable for women to speak before mixed audiences of men and women, the abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke of South Carolina boldly spoke out against slavery at public meetings (see Grimke Sisters). Some male abolitionists including William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, and Frederick Douglass supported the right of women to speak and participate equally with men in antislavery activities. In one instance, women delegates to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention held in London in 1840 were denied their places. Garrison thereupon refused his own seat and joined the women in the balcony as a spectator.

Some women saw parallels between the position of women and that of the slaves. In their view, both were expected to be passive, cooperative, and obedient to their master-husbands. Women such as Stanton, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth were feminists and abolitionists, believing in both the rights of women and the rights of blacks. (See also individual biographies.)

Many women supported the temperance movement in the belief that drunken husbands pulled their families into poverty. In 1872 the Prohibition party became the first national political party to recognize the right of suffrage for women in its platform. Frances Willard helped found the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (see Willard, Frances).

During the mid-1800s Dorothea Dix was a leader in the movements for prison reform and for providing mental-hospital care for the needy. The settlement-house movement was inspired by Jane Addams, who founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889, and by Lillian Wald, who founded the Henry Street Settlement House in New York City in 1895. Both women helped immigrants adjust to city life. (See also Addams Dix.)

Women were also active in movements for agrarian and labor reforms and for birth control. Mary Elizabeth Lease, a leading Populist spokeswoman in the 1880s and 1890s in Kansas, immortalized the cry, "What the farmers need to do is raise less corn and more hell." Margaret Robins led the National Women's Trade Union League in the early 1900s. In the 1910s Margaret Sanger crusaded to have birth-control information available for all women (see Sanger).

Fighting for the Vote

The first women's rights convention took place in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in July 1848. The declaration that emerged was modeled after the Declaration of Independence. Written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it claimed that "all men and women are created equal" and that "the history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman." Following a long list of grievances were resolutions for equitable laws, equal educational and job opportunities, and the right to vote.

With the Union victory in the Civil War, women abolitionists hoped their hard work would result in suffrage for women as well as for blacks. But the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, adopted in 1868 and 1870 respectively, granted citizenship and suffrage to blacks but not to women.

Disagreement over the next steps to take led to a split in the women's rights movement in 1869. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, a temperance and antislavery advocate, formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in New York. Lucy Stone organized the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) in Boston. The NWSA agitated for a woman-suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution, while the AWSA worked for suffrage amendments to each state constitution. Eventually, in 1890, the two groups united as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Lucy Stone became chairman of the executive committee and Elizabeth Cady Stanton served as the first president. Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Dr. Anna Howard Shaw served as later presidents.

The struggle to win the vote was slow and frustrating. Wyoming Territory in 1869, Utah Territory in 1870, and the states of Colorado in 1893 and Idaho in 1896 granted women the vote but the Eastern states resisted. A woman-suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution, presented to every Congress since 1878, repeatedly failed to pass.

Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 Compton's NewMedia, Inc.

Understanding Biographical Information

Personal information is personal data that distinguishes one individual from another. The most basic of this information is a person's biographical data, which includes name, address, gender, marital status, and date of birth.

When you manage many individuals in a database, you want to know and quickly access more than the basic information about them. With the personal information data pages, you can also enter and track an individual's various telephone numbers and addresses (street, email, and uniform resource locator [URL]), and you can maintain data about the individual's ethnicity, visa and permits, citizenship and passports, languages, relationships, religious preference, emergency contacts, and work experience.

You can enter and maintain different name types for an individual. With effective dating, you can also maintain and review the history of name changes for each type. For example, when the divorced Mrs. Edith Jones advises your institution that she has remarried and changed her last name to Bramowitz, you can maintain her preferred name, Edith Bramowitz her former name, Edith Jones and her maiden name, Edith Brown. Departments that need to know when these name changes occurred can determine that by reviewing the history of each name type.

You can also enter and maintain different address types for an individual. For example, you might want to enter an individual's home, business, mailing, and permanent address. You can update these addresses as needed and maintain the address change history. In addition to traditional addresses, many individuals have at least one email or web address and several telephone numbers. You can enter and review electronic addresses and phone numbers in your system. After you enter addresses data, you can run processes to apply or remove seasonal addresses, update linked addresses, and search for a specific address for an individual.

Use the pages described in this documentation to report personal attributes, including the ethnicity of students, staff, and constituents in your campus community. The United States government requires that students must be placed in at least one of a limited number of ethnic groups.

You can identify the reciprocal individual relationships that your institution wants to track. Reciprocal relationships include spouses, mother and daughter or mother and son, brother and brother or brother and sister, employer and employee, and so on.

You can use reciprocal relationships to associate an individual in your database with another individual inside or outside of your database. When you associate two individuals, you can set up joint communications for them and maintain one joint address to which to send the joint communication. For example, you can set up a joint communication addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

You can set the system to automatically verify the marital status that you enter on the Biographical Details Data page against the relationship that you select on the Relationships page. To set automatic marital status verification, select the marital status and associated relationship on the Relationship/Marital Status page that you want the system to verify. If the verification determines that the marital status of either individual is not the specified status for that relationship, a warning message appears, suggesting that you update the marital status on the Biographical Details page. For example, if you set the marital status of Married and the relationship of Spouse on the Relationships/Marital Status page, when you select the relationship of Spouse on the Relationships page, the system verifies that the marital status of each individual on the Biographical Details page is Married. If the marital status of either individual is different from Married, the system displays the warning message.

Note: Some default values for relationships are set on the Installation Defaults - Campus Community page including reciprocal relationships. When the Create Reciprocal Relationship check box is selected on the Installation Default - CC page, the system automatically updates the relationship record for both IDs when you enter and save information on pages in the Relationship component.

You can track which languages an individual can read, speak, or write and to what degree of proficiency. You can also identify the religious preference, if any, reported by an individual and track the religious preferences of your overall campus community. You can also set preferences for the language and method by which an individual wants to receive communications from your institution.

You can enter the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of people to contact when an individual has an emergency situation. You can enter as many contacts and as many phone numbers for each contact as the individual provides or as your institution requires.

You can use U.S. Standard Industry Classification (SIC) and Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes to identify and track data about an individual's work experience, including the name of the individual's former employer, employment begin and end dates, and the most current rate of pay.

You can enter or update most basic biographical data about an individual on the Biographical Details page when you create the personal record, or you can access pages described in this section to edit or update specific information. When you save information on the pages described in this section, the system writes it to the relevant maintenance tables and updates the same information on other pages where it appears, including the Biographical Details page.

When you license PeopleSoft Campus Self Service, you can also present basic biographical information to students and faculty so that they can view and update their own information, which minimizes the need for your staff to enter and maintain the data.

What Information is Available in Marriage Reports?

Marriage Records

Marriage records are asource of family information, including Marriage Dates, Bride and Groom&rsquos Sex, Ages, Full Names and more.Use our fast online search to know Bride&rsquos Maiden Name or the full Marital History of both spouses.

Bride & Groom Information

Check if someone has recently got married or see the current marital status of any given bride or groom &ndash single or divorced. Access Full Names of the Bride and Groom, Contact info, Residences, Ages, Races, Dates and Places of Birth and Previous Marriages.

Relatives & Family Members

Check more details about someone&rsquos family, instantly extracted from thousands of Local, State or County databases just for you. Locate someone&rsquos Family Members, long-lost Relatives or check out their Names, Contact Information and more.

Public Records

Get quick access to Public records that will offer a clear view over information sourced straight from sources like Criminal Records, Bankruptcy Filings and more. Further data covering Assets, Judgments, Liens is also a click away.

A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States

  • 1970 - A same-sex couple in Minnesota applies for a marriage license. They are denied and their case goes to the state Supreme Court.
  • 1973 - Maryland becomes the first state to ban same-sex marriage
  • 1976 - a non-church sanctioned gay wedding makes news
  • 1983 - 'spousal' rights of same-sex couples become an issue - a lesbian couple is confronted with the spousal rights issue when one of them is in a car accident and the other is denied the right to care for her.
  • 1984 - Berkeley, CA passes the nation's first domestic partnership law
  • 1987 - first mass same-sex wedding ceremony - occurs on the National Mall - nearly 2000 same-sex marriages take place
  • 1989 - court rulings in NY and CA define same-sex couples as families
  • 1992 - same-sex employees begin to receive domestic partner benefits from Levi Strauss & Co. and the state of Mass.
  • 1993 - the Hawaii Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriages cannot be denied unless there is a "compelling" reason to do so - Hawaii legislators respond by passing an amendment to ban gay marriage
  • 1995 - Utah governor signs a state DOMA statute into law
  • 1996 - President Clinton signs the federal DOMA
  • 1997 - Hawaii becomes the first state to offer domestic partnership benefits to same sex couples
  • 1998 - Alaskan and Hawaiian voters approve state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage
  • 1999 - Vermont's Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples must receive the same benefits and protections as any other married couple under the Vermont Constitution
  • 2000 - the Central Conference of American Rabbis agrees to allow religious ceremonies for same-sex couples while Vermont becomes the first state to pass a law granting the full benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. Nebraska voters approve a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
  • 2002 - Nevada votes to approve a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
  • 2003 - A proposed amendment to the federal Constitution is introduced to the House of Representatives. It would define marriage as only between a man and a woman. The U.S. Supreme Court decides Lawrence v. Texas, striking down sodomy law and enshrining a broad constitutional right to sexual privacy. California passes a domestic partnership law which provides same-sex partners with almost all the rights and responsibilities as spouses in civil marriages. President Bush states that he wants marriage reserves for heterosexuals and the Massachusetts Supreme Court hands down a decision that makes Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage.
  • 2004 - The city of San Francisco begins marrying same-sex couples in an open challenge to CA law and New Mexico begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as their law does not mention gender. Portland, Oregon also begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A poll taken by the Washington Post shows that 51% of the country favors allowing same-sex couples to form civil unions. While San Francisco is told to halt same-sex unions, Oregon takes the more drastic step of halting all marriages until the state decides who can and cannot wed. The proposed constitutional amendment with the same-sex ban dies in the U.S. Senate after testimony against it from conservative politicians. Missouri votes to ban same-sex marriage. Washington state says yes to same-sex marriage in a court decision while the California Supreme Court voids same-sex marriages. Several states pass initiatives to ban same-sex marriages.
  • 2005 - In New York, a state judge calls the state ban on same-sex marriage illegal. California's legislature attempts to pass a law legalizing same-sex unions but it is vetoed by the governor. Connecticut becomes the second state to approve same-sex unions.
  • 2006 - The New Jersey Supreme Court orders the legislature to recognize same-sex unions.
  • 2008 - California's Supreme Court overturns the ban on gay marriage. This leads to California voters approving a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Florida and Arizona voters do the same.
  • 2009 - The Iowa Supreme Court overturns the state ban on same-sex marriage. Vermont's legislature legalizes same-sex marriages. Maine and New Hampshire follow suit, though Maine voters later repeal the state law allowing same-sex marriage.
  • 2010 - California's voter-passed ban on same-sex marriage from 2008, known as Prop 8, is declared unconstitutional.
  • 2011 - President Obama declares DOMA unconstitutional. New York legalizes same-sex marriage.
  • 2012 - The Ninth Circuit finds Prop 8 unconstitutional. Washington state, Maine, and Maryland legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
  • 2013 - Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, and New Mexico legalize same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court finds Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional. It also decides the Prop 8 defenders lack standing, clearing the way for same-sex unions to be legalized in California. The IRS recognizes same-sex married couples. Utah's same-sex marriage ban is found unconstitutional.
  • 2014 - Oregon, Pennsylvania, Kansas, and South Carolina legalize same-sex marriage. The Presbyterian church votes to allow same-sex ceremonies. The U.S. Supreme Court decides a case that allows for same-sex marriage in 5 states (VA, OK, UT, WI, and IN) but declines to make a blanket statement for all states.
  • 2015 - The U.S. Supreme Court makes same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states in Obergefell v. Hodges.

It is only fitting to end this timeline with the following quote from that decision:

&ldquoNo union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.&rdquo

Register to Vote, Update Voter Registration or Cancel Voter Registration

How to register:
Print the Voter Registration Form, fill-out the form, sign it and then submit it to your County Auditor. Your Voter Registration form with an original signature must be received by the auditor 15 days before any election if you wish to vote in that election. South Dakota law does not allow you to submit your voter registration form via fax or email.

You can use this form to:

  • Register to vote in South Dakota
  • Change your registration name or address
  • Change your party affiliation
  • Cancel your voter registration. You may do this by filling out the bottom portion of the voter registration form. (Sections 9-12)

Download a fillable PDF voter registration form by clicking this button:
Voter Registration Form Word Document

Registering to vote in South Dakota is a simple and easy process. Follow the guidelines below to register to vote.

  • Be a United States citizen (South Dakota Constitution, Article VII, Section 2)
  • Reside in South Dakota (residency defined)
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
  • Not currently serving a sentence for a felony conviction which included imprisonment, served or suspended, in an adult penitentiary system (See additional felony information)
  • Not be judged mentally incompetent by a court of law

You may also register to vote at the following locations:

  • The South Dakota Democratic Primary is open to registered Democrats and Independents/No Party Affiliation voters, but not Republicans.
  • The South Dakota Libertarian Primary is open to voters registered as Libertarian, Independent or No Party Affiliation.
  • The South Dakota Republican Primary is closed to only registered Republicans.

In a Primary election, a voter is given only the ballot for the party which the voter is registered in, except for voters registered as an Independent or No Party Affiliation (NPA).

Understanding the Unlimited Marital Deduction

The unlimited marital deduction is an estate tax provision that went into effect in 1982. The provision eliminated both the federal estate and gift tax on transfers of property between spouses, in effect, treating them as one economic unit. The deduction was adopted by Congress to redress the problem of estates being pushed into higher tax brackets by inflation. Because the estate tax, like the income tax, is progressive, estates that grow with inflation are hit with higher tax rates.

With the unlimited marital deduction, the amount of property that can be transferred between spouses is unlimited, meaning that a spouse can transfer all of his or her property to the other spouse, during lifetime or at death, without incurring any federal estate or gift tax liabilities on this first transfer. The transfer is made possible through an unlimited deduction from estate and gift tax that postpones the transfer's taxes on the property inherited from each other until the second spouse’s death.

In other words, the unlimited marital deduction allows married couples to delay the payment of estate taxes upon the death of the first spouse because after the surviving spouse dies, all assets in the estate over the applicable exclusion amount will be included in the survivor’s taxable estate.

$11.58 million

For tax year 2020, the IRS estate and gift tax exemption is $11.58 million per individual. For tax year 2021, this amount increases to $11.7 million per individual.  

Any asset that is transferred to a surviving spouse can be included in the spouse's taxable estate—unless it is spent or gifted during the surviving spouse's lifetime. Alternatively, if the surviving spouse remarries, the unlimited marital deduction may allow the assets to pass to the new spouse without the application of estate and/or gift taxes. In some situations, fewer taxes will be paid by using additional estate planning methods such as using exemptions or trusts.


Any gifts over $15,000 are subject to taxation—unless gifts are made to a spouse, which has no limit and no tax. This amount remains the same in 2021.