A Newberry Library and Chicago Historical Society Exhibit: October 1, 2004, to January 15, 2005

Claiming Human Rights
North of Slavery | Sex and Citizenship | Industrial Democracy
Who could claim the human rights declared at independence? In the nineteenth century, Americans struggled with the practical meaning and scope of this abstract question. The Constitution tolerated the enslavement of African Americans until 1865. Women, regardless of race, lacked voting and property rights. Wage workers and their families—many of them newly arrived immigrants—faced frequent economic depressions and had few rights on the job.

As Chicago grew from a frontier town to a center of world commerce the limits of American democracy would be tested again and again.

Liberty Line Margaret Dreier Robins and Suffragists, 1912, The Chicago Historical Society Attention Workingmen . . ,The Newberry Library

This exhibit has been organized by the Newberry Library's Dr. William M. Scholl Center for Family and Community History and the Chicago Historical Society. It has been made possible with major funding provided in part by The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning. Generous support also provided by The Chicago Reader and Dr. and Mrs. Tapas K. Das Gupta.
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