On July 28, 1914 – almost exactly one hundred years ago – the first shots were fired in a conflict that would come to be known as World War I. With all able bodied men in the trenches of Europe’s front line, the women of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia left their domestic duties en mass for the first time in modern history. Before Rosie the Riveter, before the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps), or the WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service) – Victorian era women went to work in munitions factories and on farms. They joined the Red Cross and risked their lives to nurse soldiers on the battlefield. When the smoke cleared and The Great War ended, these women continued to fight. British and Canadian women were granted provisional voting rights in 1918, and on August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment was passed in the US, granting suffrage to the women of the United States (Australia was ahead of the curve, with provisional voting rights granted to women in 1902).
Having successfully fought the war to end all wars (or so they believed), the Great Depression years away (unimaginable), and new, fantastic innovations like automobiles and radios becoming affordable to the middle class – the world was imbued with a sense of liberation and possibility. Women began attending universities in record numbers. They frequented jazz clubs and speakeasies on the weekends, preferring ragtime and the Lindy Hop to Wagner and the waltz. Women cut their hair into short chin-length bobs, tossed away their corsets, and scandalously bared their rouged knees in slinky, flapper fashion. Lipstick was scarlet, mascara was black, and brows were penciled. And when it came to jewelry -the bigger, the better!
The Art Nouveau movement left women with a taste for bright colors and bold patterns. For this week’s Throwback Thursday, I’ve chosen a few pieces that the 1920’s gal would have thought was the cat’s meow! This gorgeous Blooming Pearl Bib Necklace would have been just the ticket for the flapper fem fatale, and no self-respecting 1920’s woman would be seen at her favorite jazz joint without at least a few rhinestones. That’s where SJ’s Wave Rhinestone Necklace with Matching Bracelet and Earrings come in – trust me, you won’t believe the price! Finally, the women of the 1920’s weren’t afraid to rock the boat. After all, Mata Hari might have been a spy, but she knew how to turn a head! SuperJeweler’s Double Strand Turquoise Spike Necklace adds just the right element of mystique to do any flapper proud.
When the woman of the 1920’s left her sewing room or kitchen to serve the home front during WWI, she probably didn’t have the right to vote. She wasn’t eligible to run for public office. Her educational opportunities were few, and her legal protections sparse. The daughters of these women would go on to carry their respective home fronts through another world war – more brutal than the last. The granddaughters of those brazen flappers and brave suffragettes would become doctors, lawyers, judges, and politicians.
Susan B. Anthony said, “Suffrage is the pivotal right.” She was correct, from this right all other women’s rights have come. Those amazing women of the 1920’s are mostly gone now, but their sacrifices were worthwhile and their legacy will continue indefinitely.