Women’s Roles in 1912

posted in: 1912, Women | 0

A hundred years ago women worked primarily in the home. Their job was to keep the home, cook the meals and care for the children. These were in the days before television, automatic dishwashers, and washers and dryers existed. Women had to take the time to wash and dry dishes themselves {or have the children help} and bend over the tub to wash clothes and then wring them out before hanging them on the clothesline. Men expected the meal on the table when they arrived home. There was no throwing it into the microwave, everything had to be made from scratch. Women were considered a helpmate for their husbands.

If the family lived on a farm there were additional chores, as animals and crops were tended.

Divorce was still shunned and most women stayed in a bad marriage because they were so reliant on their husband. If a woman was divorced she faced the possibility of losing her friends and place in society.

Often women that were widowed or unmarried worked in some type domestic work. They may have worked as a waitress, cook, or maid in some area. My widowed great-grandmother supported her family as a seamstress and renting out rooms in the home. Other possible occupations for women were teaching and nursing.

In 1912 women had no rights. They were not allowed to vote, own property or even work outside the home if they were married. {19th Amendment passed in 1920 allowing all American Women to vote}


On August 19, 1912 the New Orleans Picayune stated “Never before in the history of the United States have women taken a deeper interest in a presidential campaign than this year.” With three serious candidates women’s suffrage and women working in politics began to take a front seat. Both of these movements were rooted in the 19th Century, but saw a decline in the first decade of the 20th Century. This historic election saw the beginning of support for both of these movements. Before the 1912 election there was only a small handful of women involved in politics, but for the first time presidential candidates were treating women as though they mattered in receiving a victory.

Women did eventually gain the right to vote, work outside the home, divorce if they were unhappy, and own property. Looking back on the last 100 years women have been trailblazers. Where do you think women will be 100 years from now?