Women in Missouri History: In Search of Power and Influence

By Leeann Whites; Mary C. Neth et al. | Go to book overview

Breaking into Politics

Emily Newell Blair and the
Democratic Party in the 1920s

Virginia Laas

In the first decade after women gained the vote, Emily Newell Blair was a familiar name to anyone interested in the progress of women in partisan politics. Vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1922 to 1928, she worked to integrate women into party politics and sought to gain positions of leadership for them within party organization. As one of only a few female politicians visible on the national scene, she demonstrated that women could be capable political activists. Although she did not gain equality for women, her own career demonstrated that a woman could lead and could be accepted by men. At the same time, she wrote regularly in national magazines and journals, explaining her approach to and justification for women's active participation in party leadership. Through her articles and interviews, Blair wrestled with the problems women faced in striving for equality in the public arena. While she was never able to solve the problem of power sharing, her intelligent discussions, shaped by her own practical experience in breaking into politics, explored a variety of approaches to thinking about men and women and political power in the first years after suffrage. 1.

____________________
1.
Among the many works dealing with women in the years after suffrage was won are Kristi Andersen, After Suffrage: Women in Partisan and Electoral Politics before the New Deal (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); Dorothy M. Brown, Setting a Course: American Women in the 1920s (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987); J. Stanley Lemons, The Woman Citizen: Social Feminism in the 1920s (Urbana: University of Illinois

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