Pacifism vs. Patriotism in Women's Organizations in the 1920s:
How Was the Debate Shaped by the Expansion of the American Military?


Alonso, Harriet Hyman. Peace as a Women's Issue: A History of the U.S. Movement for World Peace and Women's Rights. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1993.

This history of women's pacifism in America addresses the years from 1820 to 1985 to understand why women specifically lobbied for world peace and what arguments they used to further their cause. Alonso provides an overview of the major women's peace organizations.

Alonso, Harriet Hyman. The Women's Peace Union and the Outlawry of War, 1921-1942. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989.

Alonso explains the legislative lobbying efforts of an organization devoted to radical pacifism. She details the successes and failures in their struggle to have war outlawed in the United States.

Bussey, Gertrude and Margaret Tims. Pioneers for Peace: The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915-1965. London: WILPF British Section, 1980.

Bussey and Tims provide a general history of the international organization during its first fifty years. Little attention is given to attacks on U.S. peace workers, although women from other nations faced similar and often more severe persecution. The three disarmament conferences are only mentioned briefly.

Calhoun, Frederick S. Uses of Force in Wilsonian Foreign Policy. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1993.

In this work on the Wilson presidency, Calhoun demonstrates the relationship between force and diplomacy in the early twentieth century. When victory seemed possible Wilson more often called on military strength instead of diplomacy to negotiate the American position.

Challener, Richard. Admirals, Generals, and American Foreign Policy, 1898-1914. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.

This work explains the major decisions that defined foreign policy in the early years of America's informal empire. Challener's focus is on the effect that military men had in influencing those decisions.

Chatfield, Charles. For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914-1941. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1971.

Noted peace historian Charles Chatfield presents an integrated history of the peace movement in the eras of the First and Second World Wars.

Cook, Blanche Wiesen. "The Woman's Peace Party: Collaboration and Non-Cooperation." Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace Research 1, no 1 (Fall 1972): 36-42.

________. "Woodrow Wilson and the Antimilitarists, 1914-1917." Ph.D. diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1970.

Cott, Nancy F. The Grounding of Modern Feminism. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.

The standard work on the women's movement after suffrage, Cott suggests that division among the women was caused by differences within the organization that the women could not overcome. These differences prevented the formation of a united block of women voters. Cott does provide some information about conservative women, including the DAR.

Curti, Merle. Peace or War: The American Struggle, 1636-1936. New York: W.W. Norton, 1936.

Although somewhat dated, Curti's history of the peace initiative in America provides a broad overview of forces that would influence later pacifism.

Dingman, Roger. Power in the Pacific: The Origins of Naval Arms Limitation, 1914-1921. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.

One of few histories of the 1921 Washington Conference, Dingman studies the national political struggles within the United States, Great Britain, and Japan to understand how all came to support discussions of world armament limitation after World War I. He is more focused on the political leaders and does not address women's actions to influence the issue.

Early, Frances H. A World Without War: How U.S. Feminists and Pacifists Resisted World War I. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1997.

Early provides a more general history of pacifism during World War I in this work which is filled with historical detail. She describes the struggle of pacifists to protest against war and remain separate from the war effort in a nation consumed by nationalistic hysteria.

Ekirch, Arthur A. Jr. The Civilian and the Military. New York: Oxford University Press, 1956.

This history provides information about the presence of the military in American life and the public's varying reactions from the Revolutionary era through World War II.

Fanning, Richard. Peace and Disarmament: Naval Rivalry and Arms Control, 1922-1933. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1995.

Fanning integrates the lobbying of pacifists into his already detailed work on the push for world arms limitation during the 1920s. The work of conservative women for retaining a strong military is neglected, however.

Foster, Catherine. Women for All Seasons: The Story of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989.

Foster's second major work on the WILPF provides an overview of the first fifty years of the organization and then concentrates on the League's activities during the Cold War.

________. The Women and the Warriors: The U.S. Section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 1915-1946. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995.

Foster presents the first half of WILPF's history in the United States, beginning with the formation of the Woman's Peace Party in 1915. She devotes several pages to detailing that attacks by right-wing militarist movements on the peace activists.

Gibbs, Margaret. The DAR. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1969.

An excellent internal history of the Society, although the work lacks historical perspective.

Lemons, J. Stanley. The Woman Citizen: Social Feminism in the 1920s. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1973.

J. Stanley Lemons describes the period of decline in the women's movement after the suffrage amendment. He attributes the movement's splintering to external forces working against the women.

Nielsen, Kim E."Dangerous Iowa Women: Pacifism, Patriotism, and the Woman-Citizen in Sioux City, 1920-1927."Annals of Iowa, 56 (Winter/Spring 1997): 80-98.

This article analyzes a local attack on a WILPF chapter in the 1920s. The conflict began between the new chapter and the American Legion, but soon expanded to a struggle between WILPF and the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution over control of the local affiliate of the League of Women Voters. The dispute ended in the apparent disbanding of the WILPF chapter.

Roberts, Nancy L. American Peace Writers Editors and Periodicals: A Dictionary. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.

In this biographical dictionary Roberts provides information on the activities of many of the prominent individuals who wrote about pacifism. Included are representative lists of the writers' important works and places of publication. The volume encompasses peace work since the Civil War to the present.

Schneider, Dorothy and Carl J. Into the Breach: American Women Overseas in World War I. New York: Viking, 1991.

The Schneiders' work provides an account of often overlooked women during the war, those who actually witnessed the war firsthand. They include nurses and other affiliated personnel, as well as peace activists and reporters.

Strayer, Martha. The D.A.R.: An Informal History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973, 1958.

Strayer's history of the Daughters is the second major history of that organization. Like Gibbs' history, however, Strayer mainly focuses on internal issues and personalities, providing little historical perspective on the DAR's actions.

Steinson, Barbara J. American Women's Activism in World War I. New York: Garland, 1982.

This work explains the many different ways women became involved public life during the First World War. Steinson includes both the peace activism of the WPP and activities of women who participated in the war effort.

Williams, William Appleman. The Roots of the Modern American Empire. New York: Random House, 1969.

In an excellent example of the Wisconsin school of American foreign policy, William Appleman Williams demonstrates how American foreign policy has always been driven by the desire to acquire. That desire culminated in the "informal" empire established in 1898.

back to top