Woman as Consumers


“An explicit conception of consumer identity, an identity that was simultaneously bound up in notions of the feminine. Born at the same time, the "Organization Man" and "Mrs. Consumer" in many ways reprised the older dichotomy of manly producers and domestic women. American women had long been consumers in a sense: they bought, bartered, and used goods. Except on the far reaches of the frontier, few eighteenth-century households were entirely self-sufficient. During the Revolution, women's political role involved consumer boycotts of imported teas and cloth; expected to run a household well, they took an increasingly active role in purchasing decisions. “ 

Source: Journal for Multi-Media History

“The National Consumers League was chartered in 1899, by two of America’s leading social reformers, Jane Addams and Josephine Lowell.  These two women were pioneers in achieving many social reforms in communities and workplaces across the country. Under the direction of its first general secretary, Florence Kelley, the National Consumers League exposed child labor and other scandalous working conditions.  Kelley was to become one of the most influential and effective social reformers of the 20th century. During the early 1900s, she led the League in its efforts to:

  • Protect in-home workers, often including whole families, from terrible exploitation by employers
  • Promote the Meat Inspection Act of 1906 and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906
  • Write and champion state minimum wage laws for women
  • Defend and, ultimately convince, the US Supreme Court to uphold a 10-hour work day law in the landmark Muller v. Oregon case of 1908
  • Advocate for the creation of the United States Children’s Bureau and federal child labor restrictions”      

Source: NCL

American Women and the Making of Modern Consumer Culture --- the electronic text

History – National Consumers League

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