Title

“We the People”: Montanan Suffragist Belle Fligelman Winestine and the Progressive Era

Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Anya Jabour

Faculty Mentor’s Department

History

Abstract

Molded by her education and galvanized to activism by her college environment and opportunities, Belle Fligelman became an ideal example of what historians regard as the “new woman” of the Progressive Era. The late 1800s and early 1900s was a time period of tremendous change in America due to the industrialization and urbanization of cities as well as the influx of immigrants and “progressive” socio-political activism. Research in census records, historical newspapers, and other sources indicates that Fligelman’s life story characterizes that of many reform-minded women of the early 1900s. Born into a family of Romanian Jewish immigrants in 1891, Fligelman was raised in Helena, Montana and later attended the University of Wisconsin. By virtue of her education and early suffragist activism, which turned into a lifelong pursuit of progressive causes, Fligelman reflected many attributes of the era’s many “new women.” She graduated after serving as President of the Women’s Student Government Association, editor for the student newspaper, and as a lobbyist at the Wisconsin legislature for women’s suffrage. Subsequently, Fligelman worked as the first female journalist for the Helena Independent, covering Jeannette Rankin’s campaign for election to the House of Representatives and eventually joining the Republican Women’s National Campaign Committee as Rankin’s campaign manager; later, she went to Washington D.C. as Rankin’s secretary from approximately 1916 to 1918. Fligelman married Norman Winestine and returned to Helena, Montana, where they wanted to raise their three children. She continued her activism largely from her home state—even running for Montana state senate in 1932. All in all, the life of Belle Fligelman Winestine demonstrates Montana women’s activism in the Progressive era, offering clues to how they navigated the political realm and changing societal realities during the First Wave of feminism, both outside and inside the home.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 17th, 1:40 PM Apr 17th, 2:00 PM

“We the People”: Montanan Suffragist Belle Fligelman Winestine and the Progressive Era

UC 332

Molded by her education and galvanized to activism by her college environment and opportunities, Belle Fligelman became an ideal example of what historians regard as the “new woman” of the Progressive Era. The late 1800s and early 1900s was a time period of tremendous change in America due to the industrialization and urbanization of cities as well as the influx of immigrants and “progressive” socio-political activism. Research in census records, historical newspapers, and other sources indicates that Fligelman’s life story characterizes that of many reform-minded women of the early 1900s. Born into a family of Romanian Jewish immigrants in 1891, Fligelman was raised in Helena, Montana and later attended the University of Wisconsin. By virtue of her education and early suffragist activism, which turned into a lifelong pursuit of progressive causes, Fligelman reflected many attributes of the era’s many “new women.” She graduated after serving as President of the Women’s Student Government Association, editor for the student newspaper, and as a lobbyist at the Wisconsin legislature for women’s suffrage. Subsequently, Fligelman worked as the first female journalist for the Helena Independent, covering Jeannette Rankin’s campaign for election to the House of Representatives and eventually joining the Republican Women’s National Campaign Committee as Rankin’s campaign manager; later, she went to Washington D.C. as Rankin’s secretary from approximately 1916 to 1918. Fligelman married Norman Winestine and returned to Helena, Montana, where they wanted to raise their three children. She continued her activism largely from her home state—even running for Montana state senate in 1932. All in all, the life of Belle Fligelman Winestine demonstrates Montana women’s activism in the Progressive era, offering clues to how they navigated the political realm and changing societal realities during the First Wave of feminism, both outside and inside the home.