Constructing the woman citizen and struggling for the vote in California, 1896-1911

G. Gullett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


When California women campaigned for the vote-unsuccessfully in 1896 and victoriously in 1911-they were also engaged in a struggle to create an identity for women as citizens. Constructinh such an identity presented the women with a predicament. They had to find ways to challenge the contemporary definition of a citizen: a white man whose work made him an autonomous individual and hence capable of participating in democratic politics. Women's work of moral guardianship contributed to the public good, but it did not make them citizens, public persons who could act on their own behalf. Women constructed their citizenship by manipulating these opposing traditions in a variety of ways; however, they always maintained a white women's movement that focused on work as a crucial key in gaining citizenship. They claimed that their traditional work in the home legitimized their citizenship and that they were citizens because they had expanded their work, making it more like men's. Women made these claims, acted upon them, and gained more power. As a woman became more powerful and as her work became more public, she saw herself and was seen by others as a woman citizen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-593
Number of pages21
JournalPacific Historical Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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