Progressivism was a movement that lasted from about 1890 through the 1920s and focused on using government intervention to reform American society in an attempt to fix the problems that Progressives identified as plaguing the US. These issues included immigration regulation and even restriction, alcohol control, food purity, child labor, working conditions, conservation of natural resources, shady business practices, women's suffrage, and government reform. Progressives wanted to increase the social welfare, morality, and economic progress of the country as well as ensure the efficiency of the government, but they didn't always agree on how to do so.
Progressivism gained steam when the muckrakers, a group of journalists, started writing about the corruption of local governments and businesses, the abuses of child labor and the factory system, and struggles of the inner city. From there, local groups started calling for and working toward change, first on the local level and then at the state and federal levels. These Progressives pushed government leaders to clean up the messes that were increasingly being brought to light. Further, Progressives rallied for more political power from underprivileged groups and called for the vote for women.
Progressivism did achieve some successes. Women received the right to vote in 1920, for instance. Alcohol was prohibited in 1920 also, although prohibition largely failed in practice. Progressives also gained victories in labor improvements and laws, antitrust laws to curb corrupt businesses, and food reforms, including the Meat Inspection Act and Pure Food Act.
Progressives could be found in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Leaders like Republican Theodore Roosevelt and Democrat William Jennings Bryan often worked together to meet progressive goals. Other Progressives decided to form their own parties to push through the reforms they believed the country desperately needed.