What were the roles of women in society at that time? In literature 1865-1912?

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Understand that the years before, during and immediately following the Civil War America was primarily a white-male dominated world (who are we kidding, not just these years).  Women's places were in the home, raising children, doing domestic chores and supporting their husbands.  Most women did not have a formal education, or if they did, it did not go beyond about 8th grade.  Most women did not have personal ambitions outside of becoming a wife and mother.

During the Civil War, however, as most men were off fighting, women had to step into traditionally male roles - working in the places their husbands left.  This gave women a new sense of purpose and confidence that doing a "man's work" was not really all that hard.

As a result, in the years beyond the war, women stepped up in the same way that Black Americans stepped up, for more equality in this male-dominated society.  They pushed for the right to vote, worked to have a voice in government (locally and nationally), they started speaking and writing and gathering together, encouraging other women to do the same.  We know that this is the time the 19th Ammendment was ratified - giving women the right to vote.  Women also began pushing for colleges suited to their needs - and encouraged each other to persue higher education.