Congress in the Archives will feature monthly staff posts on our blog. Today’s post comes from intern Johanna Schein for women’s history month.
Women did not have the right to vote in 1913. Yet through organized lobbying efforts, their influence could still be felt in Congress, especially in terms of environmental policy. Tied to women’s larger effort to extend their traditional “housekeeping” role into the public sector, women’s clubs advocated for a stronger National Park system for the sake of both moral and physical health. When Congress was debating the Raker Bill in 1913, which would grant San Francisco the right to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, women’s clubs were among the strongest lobbying groups against the legislation.
In 1913, the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs was just one of the many women’s organizations from across the country that submitted petitions to Congress urging them to protect the Hetch Hetchy Valley from development. In their resolution, the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs argued that both women and men found health and inspiration in the Valley. The Federation stressed that with hotels and better transportation, the Hetch Hetchy Valley could be enjoyed by more citizens. According to their resolution, the damming of Hetch Hetchy would be not only unnecessary, but would also be an “irrevocable sacrifice” by the whole nation.
Petition from the Massachusetts State Federation of Women’s Clubs, 11/1913, Records of the U.S. Senate (ARC 7268076)