and state governments. These women also created homes for black women attending predominantly white colleges throughout the North. For example, the Iowa Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs purchased a home where black students attending the University of Iowa and Iowa State University could live. They even 3. Organized at a meeting held by Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin in Washington, DC, in 1896, the NACWC was formed as a national organization to promote and coordinate the activities of local African American women’s organizations throughout the nation. These activities included personal and community uplift as well as confronting segregation. Chapter 3 Populism and Imperialism, 1890–1900 3.1 Urban American and Popular Culture 108
Figure 3.3 Activist, educator, writer, and leader, Mary Church Terrell was the first president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. She earned a master’s degree and taught at Ohio’s Wilberforce College, spoke multiple languages, and was a leader in the fight to desegregate the schools and the restaurants of Washington, DC, where she lived and worked for much of her life. discussed the merits of sponsoring special schools to help black women prepare for college. They soon abandoned this plan for fear it might be misunderstood by whites as an invitation to reestablish the state’s Jim Crow schools, which had been defeated by three state Supreme Court decisions in the 1860s and 1870s. Mail-Order Houses and Marketing Advances in transportation and communication created national markets for consumer products that had previously been too expensive to ship and impossible to market outside of a relatively small area. Companies such as the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company opened A&P retail outlets, while Philadelphia’s John Wanamaker pioneered the modern department store. Discounters like Woolworth’s offered mass-produced consumer goods at low prices at their “nickel and dime” stores. Department stores like Sears soon began marketing some of their smaller and more expensive items, such as watches and jewelry, through mail-order catalogs. By 1894, the Sears catalog had expanded to include items from various departments and declared itself the “Book of Bargains: A Money Saver for Everyone.” Isolated farmers and residents of towns not yet served by any department store suddenly had the same shopping options as those who lived in the largest cities. The Sears catalog and the advertisements of over a thousand other mail-order houses that emerged within the next decade shaped consumer expectations and fueled demand. By the early twentieth century, an Irish family in Montana might be gathered around the breakfast table eating the same Kellogg’s Corn Flakes as an African American family in Georgia. These and millions of other Americans could also read the same magazines and purchase items they had never known they needed until a mail-order catalog arrived at their doorstep.
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