By engaging deeply with American legal and political history as well as the increasingly rich material on gender history, Gendered Citizenship illuminates the ideological contours of the original struggle over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) from 1920 to 1963. As the first comprehensive, full-length history of that struggle, this study grapples not only with the battle over women’s constitutional status but also with the more than forty-year mission to articulate the boundaries of what it means to be an American citizen.
Through an examination of an array of primary source materials, Gendered Citizenship contends that the original ERA conflict is best understood as the terrain that allowed Americans to reconceptualize citizenship to correspond with women’s changing status after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.
Finally, Rebecca DeWolf considers the struggle over the ERA in a new light: focusing not on the familiar theme of why the ERA failed to gain enactment, but on how the debates transcended traditional liberal versus conservative disputes in early to mid-twentieth-century America. The conflict, DeWolf reveals, ultimately became the defining narrative for the changing nature of American citizenship in the era.