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Women's buttons 4

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The Victory Girls program was established during World War I and operated under the United War Work Campaign. This was a private organization comprised of seven organizations including the Salvation Army, Jewish Welfare Board, Knights of Columbus and more which were charged with coordinating fundraising for American servicemen. The Victory Girls program was aimed at young females between the ages of 12 and 20. The idea was for them to earn money, usually $5.00 apiece, and donate it to the United War Work Campaign. Posters from 1918 depicted young women in the work place with such mottos as “For Every Fighter, A Woman Worker”, or “Every Girl Pulling for Victory”, and “A Girl from this home has enrolled in the Victory Girls to earn and give to make our fighters fit”. The Victory Girls button portrayed here states, “I am enrolled”.

Jeanette Pickering Rankin (1880-1973), a Republican, is not only the first woman to be elected to the United State House of Representatives, but also the first woman to be elected to Congress. Rankin represented her Montana district from 1917 to1919. She did not seek re-election to the House in 1918, but did make an unsuccessful attempt to secure the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Jeanette Rankin would again be elected to the House of Representatives serving from 1941-1943. Prior to her first election to Congress, Rankin worked to promote the cause of women’s suffrage in the states of Washington, where she worked as a social worker, California, and Montana. A pacifist, she voted against America’s entry into both World War I and World War II. In the latter instance, she was the only member of Congress to take this position. Rankin would remain active in various women’s and peace movements until her death. The button displayed here is from her 1940 campaign.

Early formal education for women began in the mid-nineteenth century and was basically focused upon preparing women for socially acceptable roles in society such as wives, community benefactors, and teachers. As women’s colleges and higher education developed, courses were offered in various disciplines that had previously been available only for men. The Mississippi University for Women (MUW) was founded in 1884, and was the first state-supported college for women in America. MUW was sued in 1982 by a male seeking admission to the nursing program. Citing the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the university admit men.

In 1948 the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) established their International Committee on Civil Rights. With the coming of the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts this committee was reorganized to focus more closely on ending discrimination in the workplace. In the years that followed training and apprenticeship programs and hiring increased for African-Americans and women. It was also during this period that Civil Rights Committees began to be established within the local unions. Today, each local USWA union is required by the Constitution of the International Union to have a Civil Rights Committee, their purpose being to protect the civil rights of all employees, further equal employment opportunity, and generally work toward the objectives of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This particular USWA Civil Rights Committee button is apparently highlighting the union’s women members. In 2001 women represented about 20% of the USWA membership (which today includes many other job sectors besides “steel”).

The United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, later known as the Jaycees, was founded in 1920 as a young men’s leadership organization. As the result of a lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Jaycees against the U.S. Jaycees for discriminating against women in their membership policies, the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that the U.S. Jaycees were in violation of Minnesota State Public Accommodations laws by denying women membership. Women were not only ordered to be admitted to the Jaycees in Minnesota, but on August 16, 1984 Jaycee delegates from each state voted to admit women into the entire organization. The button on this page was from the Cumberland Jaycees and promoted the 1981 Maryland State Jaycee Women Conference that was being held in Cumberland. Established in 1954 the Cumberland Jaycees served as the official auxiliary to the Greater Cumberland Jaycees which had been founded in 1939. Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, the Jaycees dissolved, many joined the Jaycees, and today the Western Maryland Jaycees, as it is now known, is comprised of both men and women.

The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was officially established by an Act of Congress on May 14, 1942. As an auxiliary group it had no official military status. Therefore in 1943 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed another bill allowing the enlistment and appointment of women in the United States Army. It was at that point the WAAC was discontinued and the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was established. It is estimated that over 150,000 women served in the WAAC/WAC during World War II. As part of the effort to more strongly assimilate women into the Army, the WAC was officially disestablished by an Act of Congress in 1978. Women have served in the same units as the men since then. The WAAC symbol and insignia depicts the ancient Greek goddess, Pallas Athena, sometimes simply referred to as Athena. Although she is usually depicted wearing a helmet and carrying a spear and shield, Pallas Athena was not only considered wise in war and battle, but also regarded for her wisdom in the “arts of peace”.

The Women’s Alliance of Maryland (WAM) was established in the 1970s and for many years provided information, made referrals, and advocated for legislative action and financial assistance dealing with spouse abuse, rape, homelessness, and displaced homemakers. In 2007 the founder of WAM, Sally T. Grant, was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.

The “Abort the Court – Long Live Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun” button depicted on this page we believe is a reference to several abortion cases which came up before the Supreme Court in 1977. Two of these cases involved the use of Medicaid funds for “medically necessary” abortions, while the third pertained to policies prohibiting abortions in public hospitals. Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993), along with Supreme Court Justices William Joseph Brennan, Jr. (1906-1997) and Harry A. Blackmun (1908-1999) were all three supporters of abortion rights and all three dissented from the majority opinion which upheld certain funding and other abortion restrictions in each of these cases. It was also Blackmun who in 1973 authored the Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade.

In 1963 the Equal Pay Act, which prohibited pay disparities based upon sex, was signed. In that year women who worked full-time and year-round made an average of 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man. According to the Census Bureau, this had risen to 77 cents by 2008. The National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) was established in 1979. It is comprised of various women’s groups and other organizations which seek to achieve pay equity for women and minorities. The NCPE button depicted here is from 2000 and indicates that in that year women made 74 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

According to a newspaper article which appeared in the Cumberland Times-News on March 30, 2008, Cumberland police officers investigated 41 sexual assaults and 179 domestic assaults over a seven-month period the previous year. On March 27, 2008 Allegany County held its first “Take Back the Night” rally in downtown Cumberland. Over 70 people attended the event which was organized by Allegany College of Maryland, the Family Crisis Resources Center, the Allegany County Health Department, Cumberland Police, YMCA, and Downtown Cumberland Business Association. A second annual rally was held on March 26, 2009 which was broader in scope and participation. It was in San Francisco on November 4, 1978 that the first "Take Back the Night" march was held in the United States.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich (1938-) is a professor of history at Harvard University. She won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize in history for her book, “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812”. In 2007 she published the book, “Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History”. As clearly seen here on a button issued by the Business and Professional Women (BPW), the popular phrase is often misquoted with the word “seldom” being replaced with “never” or “rarely”. The National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs (BPW) was founded in 1919. The BPW has worked over the years to end job discrimination and promote equal pay for equal work.

“Women Mean Business” symbolized an effort made by the former State National Bank of Maryland in Bethesda to not only secure women’s business accounts, but also encourage women business entrepreneurs. According to Maryland State Senator Brian Frosh, who served on the bank’s Board of Directors from 1976-1985, this was particularly focused upon by one of the first woman bank managers in the state, whose State National Bank branch office was located on Arlington Road in Bethesda. The button portrayed here is from the mid-1970s. The bank itself was established in the late 1950s or early 1960s and was in operation until its acquisition sometime in the 1980s.

V-Day is a worldwide movement and non-profit organization which seeks to stop violence against women. It was established in 1998 and was inspired by Eve Ensler’s play, “The Vagina Monologues”, performances of which often raise funds for V-Day activities in communities or on college campuses. Each February Frostburg State University (FSU) holds a series of V-Day events such presenting the Vagina Monologues play, selling hand-made scarves, holding rallies, and panel discussions. In the past funds raised have gone to the Family Crisis Resource Center (Allegany County) and Dove Center (Garrett County). These buttons are from FSU’s 2007 and 2009 events.

SCORE is a national non-profit organization that was founded in 1964. Known as the “Counselors to America’s Small Business Owners”, its purpose is to provide volunteer counseling to small business owners, or people wishing to establish a small business. The “A Woman’s Place is in SCORE” button on this page reflects the emphasis SCORE is placing on women entrepreneurs. This is particularly characterized by a website SCORE launched in 2008 directed towards women and minorities, and which provides resources and assistance on starting, managing, and growing a business. There are 364 SCORE chapters across the country, including one in Cumberland.


Text - Albert Feldstein

Collection Location:
Allegany County

Allegany County (Md.)--Biography; Allegany County (Md.)--Women.

Allegany County, (Md.)

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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