Women’s Bodies, Government’s Vessels: Control of Women’s Reproductive Capacity in U.S. Policy, 1837 - 1924
Date of Thesis
This thesis explores the changing boundaries of women’s property rights in the nineteenth and early twentieth century with a critical eye on the intentions of white male policymakers. I analyze the development of laws regarding married women’s property rights, homesteading, and workplace relations to understand how lawmakers and judges viewed white women's reproductive capacity as a state policy tool in varying ways. The expansion of women’s property rights in the U.S. revolved around women’s reproductive labor and funneled women into their assumed roles of wives and mothers. Weaving together historical moments across a century of great advancement for women, I show how government entities repeatedly used the law to steer women’s bodies towards the spaces and conditions most advantageous to the state.
women, property rights, reproductive labor, married women's property acts, homestead act, protective laws
Bachelor of Arts
Clapp, Shana, "Women’s Bodies, Government’s Vessels: Control of Women’s Reproductive Capacity in U.S. Policy, 1837 - 1924" (2023). Honors Theses. 630.