Award Date

5-1-2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Committee Member

Joanne Goodwin

Second Committee Member

Marcia Gallo

Third Committee Member

Andrew Kirk

Fourth Committee Member

Elizabeth Nelson

Fifth Committee Member

Anita Revilla

Sixth Committee Member

Tom Piechota

Number of Pages

118

Abstract

Many historians of American women portray women's organized civic engagement and work to attain social, economic, and legal equality as feminism. American feminism has been expanded and applied in scholarship. The American feminists of the 1960s wanted to alter the male power structure and redefine conventional notions of womanhood. However, many middle-class women who participated in community and civic organizations valued their roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers, expressing their citizenship and community work as an extension of these roles. Their motivation in pursuing equality was to gain full citizenship status.

In this thesis, I argue that viewing women's civic engagement as expressions of citizenship based on traditional familial relationships, rather than feminism, broadens our ability to identify and interpret how middle-class women in Las Vegas understood their roles as citizens of their community and their country between 1911 and 1970. This study examines four women's organizations in Las Vegas: The Mesquite Club, The Las Vegas Business and Professional Women's Club, the Service League, and the Las Vegas chapter of the League of Women Voters spanning sixty years of Las Vegas history. Each organization is an affiliate of a national federation, comprised of traditional women who exerted and claimed citizenship through various methods of civic engagement and community building.

Keywords

American West; Community; Feminism; Middle class women; Nevada – Las Vegas; Urban history; West (U.S.); Women – Political activity; Women political activists; Women's activism

Disciplines

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | United States History | Women's History | Women's Studies

Language

English


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