This paper examines the extent to which the National Consumers’ League and similar localized leagues provided middle- and upper-class women with new opportunities for involvement in American politics during the early Progressive Era, or roughly the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth. These organizations undertook various efforts – including “list” and “label” campaigns – to educate the consuming public about the poor working conditions suffered by retail employees and especially factory workers in the garment industry, with a focus on employed women and child laborers. Later on, the leagues provided their female members with important opportunities for extensive political involvement as a more direct means of achieving their goals, including lobbying state legislators and preparing amicus curiae briefs for state courts and even the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case known as Muller v. Oregon (1908). Through these efforts, the leagues earned a significant amount of attention from other Progressive reform-minded organizations, including the Russell Sage Foundation.

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