Glossary of Terms

Learn more about the history of the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s) in these glossary entries relevant to the lives of the UNLADYLIKE2020 women. Some of these definitions are adapted from the UNLADYLIKE2020 collection of classroom resources on PBS LearningMedia, produced by WNET’s Kids Media & Education department.

To cite UNLADYLIKE2020 using MLA, use the following template: “Name of Glossary Entry.” UNLADYLIKE2020, Unladylike Productions, LLC, 2020. Page referenced URL. Date accessed.


19th Amendment


An amendment to the United States constitution that guarantees all American women citizens the right to vote, stating that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1878. After decades of lobbying, protests, parades, vigils, and hunger strikes by members of the women’s suffrage movement, the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920.




 (n.) A person who advocated or supported the end of slavery in the U.S.



(n.) The forcible acquisition of one state’s territory into the domain of a city, country, or state.

Anti-miscegenation laws


Laws that prohibited interracial marriage as well as intimate and romantic relationships between people of different racial backgrounds. In some states these racist laws were established in the colonial era and they lasted until the late 1960s.



(n.) The process by which a person or group adapts to, or absorbs the culture and language of another group or nation. Full assimilation occurs when members of a society become indistinguishable from members of the other group.

Auguste Rodin


(1840-1914) A famous French sculptor who is considered to be the founder of modern sculpture. One of his most famous pieces is The Thinker.

Avian Flu


(n.) In February 1957, a new influenza A (H2N2) virus emerged in East Asia, which soon became a pandemic commonly known as “Asian Flu”. It was first reported in coastal cities in the United States in summer 1957. It’s estimated that 1.1 million people died worldwide and 116,000 people died in the United States.




An aerobatic pilot who performed tricks (individually or in groups) and landed their light planes in fields. They used local barns around the country for their airshows. Barnstorming was a popular form of entertainment in the U. S. during the 1920’s.

Birth of a Nation


A 1915 silent film by D.W. Griffith (adapted from the novel The Clansman) that dramatized southern life in the period of Reconstruction, depicted the Ku Klux Klan as valiant saviors of a post-war South ravaged by Northern carpetbaggers and immoral freed Blacks. The Birth of a Nation is credited with rekindling the Klan which had been suppressed by federal law enforcement. But the movie was used as a recruiting tool and after the film’s release, Klan-inspired white supremacist violence against Black men spread across the South. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) tried desperately to have the film banned, but it was to no avail.



(n.) Dark makeup worn by a person who is not Black (as by a performer in a minstrel show) in a caricature of the appearance of a Black person.

Border Patrol


(n.) A law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which is responsible for monitoring U.S. borders to prevent the trafficking of people and contraband substances, as well as the entry of undocumented people, terrorists, and illegal weapons into the United States.

Bureau of Indian Affairs


Founded in 1824, the Bureau of Indian Affairs or Office of Indian Affairs is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Mentioned in UNLADYLIKE2020 profiles about Zitkála-Šá: and Susan LaFlesche Picotte:


Chicago Defender


Founded in 1905 by Robert Abbott, the Chicago Defender not only encouraged people to migrate north for a better life and job opportunities, but to fight for their rights once they got there. Reporting on discrimination, segregation, lynching, and political and economic equality, as well as the achievements of African Americans, the slogan of the paper was “American race prejudice must be destroyed.” Circulation grew to more than 250,000 nationwide by the late 1920s, becoming the most popular Black newspaper in the country. The paper’s success resulted in Robert Abbott becoming one of the first African American self-made millionaires. The Chicago Defender ceased publishing its print edition in 2019, but continues as an online publication with almost half a million unique monthly visitors.

Mentioned in the Bessie Coleman profile:

Chinese Exclusion Act


From 1882 to 1943 the United States Government severely curtailed immigration from China to the United States. This Federal policy resulted from concern over the large numbers of Chinese immigrants, competition with American workers and a growing nativism. It was the first time that federal immigration laws targeted a particular group of people. As a result, an act (22 Stat.58) was enacted on May 6, 1882 to suspend immigration of Chinese laborers; permitted those Chinese in the United States as of November 17, 1880, to stay, travel abroad, and return; prohibited the naturalization of Chinese; and created a “Section 6” exempt status for teachers, students, merchants, and travelers. –Adapted from National Archives

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


(n.) (LDS Church or Mormon Church) is a Christian religion, founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, that is separate from other mainstream Christian religions (e.g., Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox). Mormons believe their faith to be the restoration of Jesus’s original church. The LDS Church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah and there are over 6 million Mormons around the world. There are many expectations for members of the Mormon Church. For example, young men should be prepared to complete missionary work once they are 18 years old. Young women may also serve when they are 19, but it is not mandatory. Throughout its history, this religion has been the subject of criticism and controversy. Its followers have suffered and died due to religious intolerance and terrorism.

Civil Rights Movement


A struggle by African Americans to end legalized racial discrimination, disenfranchisement and segregation in the United States. The movement attained its largest legislative gains in the mid-1960s—utilizing nonviolent resistance strategies—and securing equal protections in federal laws.

Colored Women’s League and the National Association of Colored Women


(n.) The Colored Women’s League was established in Washington, D.C. in 1892 to fight for the rights of black women and later merged with the Federation of Afro-American Women in 1896 to become the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). Mary Church Terrell served as co-founder of both organizations, and the first president of the NACW. Black women had formed their own clubs to organize for rights and desegregation, largely because organizations of white women would not allow Black women in their membership. The National Association of Colored Women became the largest federation of local black women’s clubs across the country.



11 Southern states that seceded from the Union in 1860-61 following the election of President Lincoln that acted as a separate government and fought the Civil War against the Union until defeated in 1865.

Church Army


The Church Army was a group of the Anglican Church founded in 1882 by the Reverend Wilson Carlile. Carlile formed an army of men and women, whom he and others trained as evangelists among the poor and outcasts of the slums. The Church army spread to the United States in the late 1800s. Today volunteers in the United States continue doing social work and evangelizing through addiction centers, jails and prisons, schools, senior centers, hospitals, nursing homes, and housing developments.

Mentioned in UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Lois Weber:


Dragon lady


A derogatory term used to describe a woman who is strong, overbearing, glamorous and mysterious. It is often used as a stereotype for women of Asian descent who is cast as a villain.


English Channel


(n.) A narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean separating the southern coast of England from the northern coast of France. At the narrowest point, it stretches around 21 miles.

Environmental movement


An international fight for the protection and conservation of the natural world by changing environmentally harmful human practices.



A movement that began in the late 19th century that promoted “controlled breeding” and hierarchy in the human family based on the assumption that only white, Anglo-Saxons had desirable heritable characteristics. In some states, eugenics laws were passed that resulted in forced sterilizations, typically of poor and non-white persons. The eugenics movement fell out of favor in the U.S. when it was implemented in Nazi Germany by Adolph Hitler.




A woman in the 1920s who disregarded conventional standards of behavior and appearance for a more “modern” lifestyle (a woman who danced, smoked, and wore her hair and skirts short).




(n.) Initially referred to a section of a city where all Jews were required to live. more recently a reference to an under-resourced or poor area, often occupied by a minority group or groups as a result of structural or economic restrictions or limitations.

Great Depression


The worst economic downturn in United States history, lasting from 1929 to 1939.

Great Migration


(n.) The mass movement of millions of African Americans from the rural South to urban centers in the Northeast, Midwest, and West (e.g., New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles) to escape the extreme racism and terrorism of the Jim Crow South (between approximately 1910-1970) and to seek gainful employment.


Harlem Renaissance


A large social and cultural movement of the early 1900s -1930s stemming from the “Great Migration” of African Americans from the rural South to cities of the urban North of the United States. In New York City, they found their voices in a politically, socially and culturally vibrant Harlem. Harlem was considered the black cultural mecca of the U.S. and African diaspora, and the center of activity for creative arts, including painting and sculpture, photography, literature and letters, drama, songs, dance and live performance. The period spawned writers and poets like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, whose writing encouraged African Americans to take on an independent, enlightened approach to education, culture and politics.

Harriet Quimby


Born in Michigan in 1875, Harriet Quimby migrated to California as a teenager where she launched a career in journalism. Her passion for flight was born in 1910 after attending several airshows to write a series of articles about aviation. Quimby began taking flight lessons at the Moisant School of Aviation in Long Island, and on August 2, 1911, she received her pilot’s license, becoming the first American woman aviator. After touring the country to perform in airshows, she became the first woman to make a solo flight across the English Channel in 1912. Tragically, her career was cut short a few months later while performing at an airshow in Boston, when she lost control of her aircraft and plummeted to her death. The US Postal Service issued a 50 cent postage stamp featuring Quimby in 1991, and she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2004.

Mentioned in the Bessie Coleman profile: 

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)


(n.) Institutions of higher education in the United States that were established after the end of the Civil War in 1865 and before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to primarily serve the African-American community. During this time period, most colleges and universities in the South prohibited all African-Americans from attending, and educational institutions in other parts of the country regularly used quotas to limit the admission of Black students.


Indian reservation


(n.) A legal designation for an area of land managed by a federally recognized Indian tribe under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs rather than the state governments of the United States in which they are physically located.

Industrial psychology


The study of the worker, work and workplace settings with the goal of improving the company and overall productivity.

Industrial revolution


The transition from a craftsmanship and agrarian based economy to one focused on machine manufacturing and industry.



(n.) The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. Intersectionality assumes that an individual has multiple or overlapping identities and experiences.


Jim Crow


(n.) State and local laws enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that enforced racial segregation of public schools, public facilities, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains between white and Black people. Upheld in 1896 by the U.S. Supreme Court case of Plessy vs. Ferguson, Jim Crow laws were enforced until 1965 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Juan Crow


(n.) Refers to laws patterned after American Jim Crow laws targeting African Americans, that enforced racial discrimination against Mexican Americans. Signs reading ‘No Mexicans Allowed’ dotted numerous restaurants and other public accommodations in Texas and along the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican Americans were targeted and systematically abused by law enforcement, and people of Mexican descent were targeted and killed by mob violence and lynching.



Labor Movement


A political movement working to enhance the rights and improve working conditions for people in the workplace.

Lavender Scare


(n.) A post World War II government-led campaign that believed that gays and lesbians were dangerous to national security because they could easily be blackmailed into giving up government secrets in order to keep their sexual orientation from being exposed. After Congressional investigations, no evidence confirmed that any gay individual had betrayed the government in this way. Still, hundreds of federal workers were forced out of their jobs. In 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, which made identifying and firing gay workers in all federal government agencies official policy until the 1990s.



(n.) When someone is killed by a mob, or by 2 or more people, typically by hanging, shooting, burning, or dragging, for an alleged offense without the benefit of a full and fair legal trial, and often without legal consequences. This extrajudicial act of public torture has served as a means of promoting racial terror, to instill fear, enforce racial subordination, and maintain white supremacy by white nationalist groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan.


Madam Butterfly


A Japanese woman who was the lead character in an Italian opera married a U.S. navy officer who abandoned her for another woman in the US. A stereotype for a woman of Asian descent who is cast as a tragic figure.

Manifesto of 1890


(n.) An official statement issued by the Mormon Church, under the leadership of its then president Wilfred Woodruff, that banned polygamy or plural marriage. This statement was issued in response to the Edmunds-Tucker Act (1877), a Congresional Act which prohibited polygamy in the United States. Once the Manifesto of 1890 was issued, Utah was allowed to become a state.

Mexican Revolution


(n.) A major armed struggle, lasting roughly from 1910 to 1920, that transformed Mexican culture and government. Battles between several factions in constantly shifting alliances resulted in the end of a 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic.

Minstrel Show


 (n.) A popular stage entertainment featuring songs, dances, and comic dialogue in highly conventionalized patterns, usually performed by white actors in blackface. Minstrel shows were first recorded in 1830 when white performers with blackened faces began to promote very negative stereotypes of Black people by distorting their physical appearance, behavior and culture.



(n.) People sent on a religious mission, especially to promote Christianity in a foreign country; those who evangelize or convert persons to a different belief.



(n.) A member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion founded in the United States in 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr.




A person who believes in, and works towards, protecting the rights and privileges of people born in a particular country and seeks to inhibit the rights immigrants. Often nativist views may be espoused by a political party or groups as well as individuals in response to growth in immigration, or the perception that native-born people are being outnumbered by immigrants.

New Deal


 In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed a series of domestic policies, including banking reform laws, emergency relief programs, work relief programs, and agricultural programs in order to combat the severe national economic downturn caused by the Great Depression.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as a bi-racial endeavor, initially to protest lynchings, and to advance justice for African Americans. About 60 people were named as founders, among them 7 African Americans, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell.

Mentioned in UNLADYLIKE2020 profiles about Meta Warrick Fuller: and Mary Church Terrell: and Maggie Lena Walker:


Omaha Tribe


(n.) A federally recognized Midwestern Native American tribe who reside on the Omaha Reservation in northeastern Nebraska and western Iowa. Omaha, Nebraska, the largest city in Nebraska, is named after them.




(n.) The science of making measurements from photographs. The input to photogrammetry is photographed, and the output is typically a map, a drawing, a measurement, or a 3D model of some real-world object or scene.

Plessy v. Ferguson


(n.) A landmark 1896 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that upheld the constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public facilities and schools, as long as the segregated facilities were equal in quality – a doctrine that came to be known as “separate but equal”.



(n.) (Also known as plural marriage) The act of having more than one wife at the same time. The practice of polygamy was instituted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1830s. When the Church issued its Manifesto banning polygamy in 1890, an estimated 30 percent of Mormon families in Utah practiced plural marriage. Today, various denominations of Mormonism continue to practice it.

Progressive Era


A period of widespread social activism and political reform in the United States (between the 1890s to the 1920s) when reformers worked to address the problems caused by rapid urbanization, immigration, and industrialization.



(n.) A period of time in the United States, between 1920-1933, when it was illegal to produce or sell alcohol.





A belief based on the myth of racial hierarchy, that one ethnic group or “race” is superior or inferior to another, and how this belief impacts social and political institutions, as well as the access, opportunities, and life experiences of different groups.

Red Scare


 (n.) A fear-driven campaign against communism and persons perceived to be communist sympathizers in the United States spearheaded by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

Robert Abbott


Born in Georgia in 1870 to former slaves, Robert Sengstacke Abbott studied at a missionary school in Savannah and later attended Hampton Institute to learn the trade of printing. In 1899, he earned a law degree from Kent Law School in Chicago, where he was the only African American in the class. After struggling to support himself as a lawyer, he borrowed a small amount of money and founded the Chicago Defender in 1905. In its early years, Abbott printed, folded, and distributed the newspaper himself. In its pages, he advocated for equality, social justice and job opportunities, and encouraged African Americans to leave the segregated Jim Crow South for Chicago. By 1929, the Defender had become the most popular Black newspaper in the country with a national circulation of 250,000. As a result of this success, Abbott became one of the first African American self-made millionaires. He died in 1940 and his house in Chicago has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Mentioned in the Bessie Coleman profile: 


Scientific management


The work of knowing how to administer, assist and control workers in business and industry utilizing innovative techniques designed to make working easier, more enjoyable and faster, often informed by time and motion studies.

Settlement House


Beginning in the 19th century, these reform institutions provided educational, recreational, and general social services to underserved immigrant and urban communities.

Sex Trafficking


(n.) The use of force, fraud, or coercion to induce someone to engage in a commercial or transactional sexual act without their consent.



Farmers who lease land and farming equipment in exchange for a share of the crop they harvest. The sharecropping system evolved in the United States after the Civil War when freed African Americans and poor white farmers sought jobs, while landowners sought laborers to farm cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. Rather than receiving wages, sharecroppers typically gave up to half of their harvest to the landowners. High interest rates and other forms of exploitation often kept sharecropping farm families in debt, leading some historians to call sharecropping “slavery by another name.” By the early 1930s, during the Great Depression, there were an estimated 3 million African American sharecroppers and 5.5 million white sharecroppers in the U.S. The practice faded away in the mid-20th century due to increased mechanization and urbanization.

Mentioned in the Bessie Coleman profile: 

Sierra Club


The Sierra Club is one of the first global environmental organizations. Founded in 1892, it is one of the oldest environmental groups in the U.S., established initially to advocate for the preservation of California’s mountains, today the organization lobbies for responses to climate change, and clean air and water, and promotes enjoyment of the outdoors.

Social Security


A government welfare and insurance program that provides economic security for millions of Americans, including retirees, disabled persons, and families of retired, disabled or deceased workers.

Social Work


An academic discipline and professional practice focused on enhancing social functioning and outcomes for individuals, families, groups, and communities, and to provide those individuals, families and communities the resources and tools necessary for their progress.



A political and economic system that believes that the means of making, distributing, and trading wealth, and the management of businesses should be owned and controlled by the workers.

Stock Market Crash


 A collapse of stock prices in 1929 that created economic failure that ignited the Great Depression.



The right to vote. The Women’s Suffrage Movement began in the mid-19th century as part of a larger push for broad-based economic and political equality and for social reforms, which included changing voting laws to allow women to vote. Although voting rights were enacted for women in 1920, some women, such as American Indians and African Americans, were not allowed to actually exercise the voting franchise until much later.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE profiles about Grace Abbott: and Martha Hughes Cannon: and Annie Smith Peck: and Jeannette Rankin: and Rose Schneiderman: and Mary Church Terrell: and Maggie Lena Walker:



A factory or workplace, often in the clothing industry, where workers receive extremely low wages, work long hours, and often endure dangerous conditions.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Rose Schneiderman:


Temperance Movement


An organized effort during the 19th and early 20th centuries to limit or outlaw the consumption and production of alcoholic beverages in the United States.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Susan LaFlesche Picotte:



Poorly maintained buildings with many small apartments housing a large number of people, tenements were first built to house the waves of immigrants that arrived in the United States during the 1840s and 1850s.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Rose Schneiderman:

Texas Rangers


The rangers were founded in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin employed men to protect 600 to 700 white families, many of whom had established cotton plantations and slave labor in Mexican parts of Texas. The rangers were known to perpetuate violence, including executions and torture, against ethnic Mexicans, Blacks and other people of color, and fought bitter battles against Cherokee and Comanche and other American Indians, winning them the name “Los Diablos Tejanos”—”the Texan Devils”. Many Rangers fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. At different times, members of the Texas Rangers were recruited in service of the federal government. Operating as a state police force, the Texas Rangers are credited with catching the crime couple, Bonnie and Clyde. Since 1935, the organization has been a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety, serving as a statewide investigative law enforcement agency.

Mentioned in UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Jovita Idar:

Tuskegee Airmen


The Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft during World War II. This group included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Bessie Coleman:


U.S.-Mexico War


A conflict between the United States and Mexico, also known as The Mexican-American War, fought from April 1846 to February 1848 that stemmed from the annexation of the Republic of Texas by the U.S. in 1845, and a land dispute over where the border for Texas ended. The U.S. entered into war with Mexico again and occupied the Veracruz area of Mexico in 1914.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Jovita Idar:



An organized group of workers in a specific trade or profession, created to protect and advance the group’s compensation, work conditions, rights and interests.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Rose Schneiderman:




A type of live entertainment popular chiefly in the U.S. in the early 20th century, featuring a variety of specialty acts such as comedy, song and dance, acrobats, and magicians.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profiles about Sonora Webster Carver: and about Sissieretta Jones:


W.E.B. DuBois


(1868-1963) An American civil rights activist, leader, Pan-Africanist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University and became a professor at Atlanta University in 1897. DuBois was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and the leader of the Niagara Movement (1905), a group of African American activists fighting for equality. One of his most famous and influential books, The Souls of Black Folk, was published in 1903. He later became the editor of the NAACP’s monthly magazine The Crisis. DuBois had a long and successful career fighting for equality and peace.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Meta Warrick Fuller:



The United States Naval Reserve (Women’s Reserve), better known as the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), was the women’s branch of the United States Naval Reserve during World War II.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Margaret Chung:



 The film industry practice of casting white actors in non-white roles.

Wild West Shows


Performances that were popular at the turn of the 20th century, representing scenes and events from the early history of the western U.S., some based on true events, others fictional or sensationalized. The shows often displayed stereotypical depictions of cowboys and exploitative depictions of American Americans, and included feats of marksmanship, horseback riding, rope twirling, battle reenactments, and rodeo.

Mentioned in the UNLADYLIKE2020 profiles about Sonora Webster Carver: and about Susan La Flesche Picotte:

Women’s Swimming Association


Established in the 1920s in New York City, it was one of the first associations to promote swimming for women. Beyond holding competitions, the group also aimed for equality in physical activities for women by celebrating and proving their athletic abilities.

Mentioned in UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Gertrude Ederle:

Women’s Trade Union League


Founded in 1903 as the first national association dedicated to organizing women workers, this was an organization of working and middle class women who fought to support the efforts of women to eradicate sweatshop factory conditions and to bolster labor unions.

Mentioned in UNLADYLIKE2020 profile about Rose Schneiderman:

World’s Fair


An international exhibition that features the accomplishments and innovations (cultural, scientific, artistic, industrial, etc.) of participating countries.

Mentioned in Meta Warrick Fuller profile:





When a white actor uses makeup in an attempt to “look like” and play an Asian character. Hollywood has a long history of casting white actors in Asian roles.

Mentioned in the Anna May Wong profile: