Date of Award

Spring 5-2016

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Rebecca A. Tuuri

Advisor Department



Elite white women’s organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the American Association of University Women, provide a unique perspective on history. These political women’s clubs, which range from liberal to conservative, are discussed in the context of how they responded to the postwar era of McCarthyism and the Civil Rights Movement. These women wanted to become respected political actors; however, they understood this was only achieved in a manner that was considered acceptable for women. This study begins by analyzing who these women were, including their political inclinations and motivations and also by addressing how these organizations challenged the women’s club model and overcame being labeled as politically un-active housewives. This study also addresses the liberal and conservative opinions of these three groups and how their political positions affected them during the McCarthy era, a time that challenged the ability of women to become political actors. Finally this study focuses on these three groups and their responses to the Civil Rights Movement, in particular Freedom Summer. Reacting in an acceptable way during this movement meant that these women were unable to challenge the status quo without consequences, especially in the South. In conclusion this study aims to provide a deeper understanding of these groups and their sentiment, expressions, and political motivation during two influential periods of history.