Gendered Citizenship


Gendered Citizenship

The Original Conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920–1963

Rebecca DeWolf

350 pages


October 2021


$30.00 Add to Cart

October 2021


$99.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2021


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2021


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

By engaging deeply with American legal and political history as well as the increasingly rich material on gender history, Gendered Citizenship illuminates the ideological contours of the original struggle over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from 1920 to 1963. As the first comprehensive, full-length history of that struggle, this study grapples not only with the battle over women’s constitutional status but also with the more than forty-year mission to articulate the boundaries of what it means to be an American citizen.

Through an examination of an array of primary source materials, Gendered Citizenship contends that the original ERA conflict is best understood as the terrain that allowed Americans to reconceptualize citizenship to correspond with women’s changing status after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Finally, Rebecca DeWolf considers the struggle over the ERA in a new light: focusing not on the familiar theme of why the ERA failed to gain enactment, but on how the debates transcended traditional liberal versus conservative disputes in early to mid-twentieth-century America. The conflict, DeWolf reveals, ultimately became the defining narrative for the changing nature of American citizenship in the era.

Author Bio

Rebecca DeWolf is a writer and a historian with a PhD in American history. Her research has won recognition through grants and fellowships, including the Dirksen Congressional Research Grant. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Frontiers, and New America Weekly.


"Gendered Citizenship sheds important light on the mid-twentieth-century ERA conflict, exposing some of its forgotten dimensions."—Katherine Turk, American Historical Review

"The great contribution made by Rebecca DeWolf in Gendered Citizenship: The Original Conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920–1963 lies in the granular detail she provides about the way the amendment evolved in the early 1920s and why it took the shape it did."—Glenna Matthews, California History

"This book's substantial strength lies in its detailed and lucid accounting of the myriad actors, organizations, institutions, laws, and court rulings that shaped the ERA's fortunes in the period from 1920 to 1963, an era given less attention by historians. DeWolf's prodigious research reveals both the complexity and the extent of activism surrounding the Era and situates its trajectory solidly within wider historical contexts."—Lynne Curry, Journal of American History

"DeWolf's well-researched history emphasizes the ongoing significance of the conflict a century ago for politics today and will be of interest for graduate students and scholars of the subject, as well as educated readers with a passion for legal and political history."—Nancy Elizabeth Baker, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"Gendered Citizenship is a must-read for history lovers, policy wonks, women's rights activists, and anyone else interested in how the U.S. government can support gender equality."—Rebecca Brenner Graham, Society for U.S. Intellectual History

"Although this book is on the ERA, it does go into other laws that affected women, especially their employment opportunities. Read it as a general review of public policy on women, especially at the federal level up to 1963. Then imagine how different things would have been if the ERA had been ratified several decades ago."—Jo Freeman,

“Like the sun peeking through the clouds, Rebecca DeWolf’s groundbreaking book clears the fog that has long surrounded the Equal Rights Amendment. . . . Anyone who wants to understand why the ERA is not yet law would be well advised to read this book.”—Johanna Neuman, author of Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote

“By tracing the origins of the ERA from the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to 1963, DeWolf offers a deep legal and judicial review of the debate around what constitutes equality under the law and the very nature of citizenship.”—Page Harrington, former executive director of the National Woman’s Party at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument

“Rebecca DeWolf has brought us a meticulously researched and vividly detailed account of the original ERA conflict that provides readers with rich context to trace how the arguments against gender equality of nearly a century ago continue to shape our cultural attitudes about the role and duties of women in the domestic sphere today.”—Betsy Fischer Martin, executive director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University

“Rebecca DeWolf has given us a book we desperately need—perhaps now more than ever. In Gendered Citizenship DeWolf peels back the layers of conflict surrounding the Equal Rights Amendment . . . to the core question regarding the true scope of American citizenship that arose in the wake of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment securing women’s suffrage in 1920.”—Angie Maxwell, author of The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction: The Equal Rights Amendment and American Citizenship
1. The Radical Nineteenth Amendment: Masculine Citizenship and Women’s Status
2. “The Right to Differ”: The Power of Protectionism, 1920–1932
3. “To Be Regarded as Persons”: Emancipationism on the Move, 1933–1937
4. “We Women Want to Be Persons Now”: The Rise of Emancipationism, 1938–1945
5. “Motherhood Cannot Be Amended”: The Return of Protectionism in the Postwar Era
6. “Socially Desirable Concepts”: The Triumph of Protectionism, 1947–1963
Epilogue: The Legacy of Protectionism

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