Century of Struggle Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of Women's Literature, Critical Edition)

Eleanor Flexner, a 1930 Swarthmore College graduate, published this scholarly, broad- ranging study of American women’s political, economic, and educational advances at a time when these subjects were generally ignored. The revised edition of Century of Struggle, published in 1975, reflects later scholarship and expands the discussion of African American and working women. While Flexner primarily focuses on suffrage groups and their struggles in the final decades before women won the vote, earlier chapters treat Colonial, African American, immigrant, and laboring women from 1608 to 1920. Chapters document the battle for education, the place of women in the labor movement, and the union of suffrage and Prohibition forces. Anecdotes, poetry, and vignettes enliven the narrative. At its appearance, the book was hailed for its unprecedented, detailed accounts of individuals within a political movement. Some later radicals questioned Flexner’s middle-class stance, but her study remains essential to an understanding of early twentieth century American feminism.