Progressive maternalists and the citizenship status of low-income single mothers

Jessica Toft, Laura S. Abrams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Jane Addams, Sophonisba Breckinridge, and Edith Abbott of Chicago's Hull Hous are well known for influential social reform and women's suffrage activities during the Progressive Era. This article investigates how they envisioned citizenship for single mothers receiving mothers' pensions. The authors argue that these Hull House reformers advocated for women's full citizenship as workers, yet they positioned low-income mothers, regardless of work status, as caregivers first and individuals second. Ironically, these imposed limitations restricted all women's citizenship, including their own. The reformers' beliefs on this issue reveal the complexities of women's public welfare activism in historical context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-465
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Service Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2004


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