The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1980, Volume 26, Number 2
Thomas L. Scharf, Managing Editor

Undergraduate Winner
San Diego Historical Society 1979 Institute of History

Images from the Article

At the risk of testing the assertion that “the happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history,”1 historians and other social scientists have recently become interested in the unwritten history of women. Such risk notwithstanding, and hopeful of contributing to that body of knowledge construed to be women’s history, the subject of this historical study is the women of San Diego who exercised their national suffrage right in 1920. Interest in this specific group stemmed from three related events: the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment2 and a presidential election, both of which occurred in 1920, and the fortuitous availability of the voter register in which the women of San Diego established their eligibility to vote. This is not intended to imply, however, that San Diego women were initiates in the democratic process, for California women had waged a successful campaign in 1911 and had for several years been going to the polls along with their men. Moreover, there were other events in those intervening years to justify a certain optimism in the citizens of San Diego.

In 1915 the Panama-California Exposition was held in Balboa Park which brought visitors of renown as well as many who remained to swell the city’s population. The beautiful buildings along the Laurel Street Prado were built to house the fair, and the animals left here when it closed formed the nucleus for San Diego’s famous zoo.3 The imminent arrival of the fair also provided the impetus for cleaning up the Stingaree district contained in San Diego’s Chinatown which was located south of Broadway to the waterfront, and the razing of the waterfront shacks.4 By 1919 the San Diego & Arizona Railway was completed, the city’s military importance had been established, and the economy appeared to be expanding in every way.6 The population had almost doubled over that of 1910, having grown from 39,578 to 74,683 persons. There was land being sold in all of the outlying districts from La Jolla to La Mesa to Chula Vista, the area of East San Diego was largely settled with the attendant necessity of utility installations for homes, the need for schools and shops,7 and the activity of families moving from one location to another. By 1920 the first World War was over and San Diegans were preparing to help the nation elect a new president.

The voter register contains the names of all of the eligible voters in alphabetical order as well as the address, occupation, and political party of each, and the marital status of most of the women.8 A cursory perusal of this record led to the conclusion that the majority of the voting women in San Diego were English, Protestant, married, middle-class housekeepers. And yet, there were women employed in all fields of endeavor from physicians to laundresses, married as well as unmarried. The question then became: what else can be learned about them and their society from the mute, objective testimony of city records?

In pursuit of some of the answers to this question, this historical effort has involved the attempt to create, through available evidence, a profile of these women who comprised the distaff side of San Diego’s body politic.

For the purpose of the study, profile was construed to mean a composite portrait of the voting women of 1920 as a unique class. The components were abstracted, as demonstrated or inferred, from various government documents, city records and newspapers. In addition to such personal elements as marital status, age, number of children, nationality, and religion, there were other categories established to reflect something of the society of 1920. These include economic information pertaining to employment, income and value of property held, the living arrangements made by various families to promote the welfare of the members, the discernible patterns of mobility, and the clubs and associations to which they belonged. Political dimensions consist of political party affiliation and degree of political autonomy.9 Finally, a 1920 map was obtained on which the precincts and sections of the city were delineated for comparison of percentages of women voters and for patterns of residence.

The intent of the study was to inquire into the personal and social factors surrounding the voting women of 1920 in order to ascertain what characteristics would emerge which can be said to have influenced them to vote. The hope is that the results are pertinent, related and useful for suggesting categories and sources for further historical studies, of women.

The sampling method used was devised by Peter R. Knights for his study on Boston’s plain people.10 He postulated that a sample of 385 for universes of up to 500,000 provided a confidence level of 95 percent and a confidence interval of plus or minus 5 per cent. This means that if a large number of samples were selected, each containing 385 members, the results from 95 per cent of them would be within 5 percent of the “true” values for the whole population from which the samples were drawn. The universe with which this study is concerned is 12,552 at the minimum (the number of women voters) and 74,683 at the maximum (the number of the whole population). The sample for this study was quantitatively based on the total number of voters registered and the number of women in each precinct. The smallest precincts were combined to avoid over- or under-representation leaving the smallest precinct remaining with 171 registrants, the largest with 362 registrants. The smallest number of women selected from any one precinct or combination was two, the largest number was fifteen. Assuming that the larger the sample, the more accurate the results, a list of 905 women was randomly selected and from this list, every fourth name was chosen to make a representative sampling of 225 women. In addition to the voter register, the major sources of information were the city directories,11 the San Diego tax records,12 and the biographical files compiled by the San Diego History Center.13

Table 1. Marital Status14

  Number Per Cent15
Married 133 59
Single 37 16
Widowed 31 14
Status Unknown16 22 10
Divorced 2 1

The first factor to be established was the marital status of the women, and, as conjectured, most of them were married. In fact, the married representation in the sample was 2 per cent higher than for the population as a whole.17 Moreover, when all of the women who were married at some time in their lives are added, the figures increase to 183 women and 81 per cent. The single women’s representation was 7 per cent lower than for the whole population, but the state voting requirement was set at 21 years of age which eliminated many of them and further provided that a study of voting women would involve adults whatever their marital status. As adults, women would have been influenced to vote by the same considerations which motivated the men, but additionally, by other factors involving their roles as wives and mothers.

For all of the voters, pressing concerns with regard to employment and income, aspirations for home ownership and future security, the cost of government as opposed to city amenities, and the prosperity of the city and the nation influenced and motivated them to vote. The special concerns of women revolved around the needs of people: the care and education of children, their own as well as the orphaned and abandoned, the care of the aged and infirm, the public health, decency and safety, as well as the “housekeeping” of the city, its cleanliness and beauty; for most of these issues affected the physical and moral health of their children. Women also had unique vulnerabilities. For most of them, marriage and family was their only career and, even though the social norm required men to earn the living and women to attend the home, there was always the possibility of mishap or misfortune which would result in the loss of income. This is of particular concern where there is no provision for unemployment compensation, welfare, or emergency funds18 and where there is, in addition, a social stigma attached to receiving a “dole” had there been one. That the women (and men) of San Diego were cognizant of these factors with regard to marriage and family is suggested by the relative ages of married women as compared to married men. A large number of women between the ages of 15 and 24 were married, but there were very few husbands in this age bracket,19 an indication that marriage was not viewed as a practical option where there was not some promise of stability and security. A large majority of the husbands and fathers in San Diego were 25 years of age and over.

Table 2. Age

  21-30 31-40 41-50 Over 50 Unknown
Married 16 25 31 24 37
Single 20 9 1 5 2
Widowed 1   1 19 10
M.S.U. 1     1 20
Divorced 1       1

The majority of women voters were between the ages of 21 and 50 years, the active years when the family and the social needs are most pressing. These are also the years when opportunities are presented which, if not grasped, are lost, such as the opportunity to try a new job, or to buy a home, or to invest in other property. It was not determined whether it was from

Table 3. Number of Children20

Number of children: Five Four Three Two One Unknown
Married 2 1 2 9 21 98
Widowed   1   1 6 17
M.S.U.         1 21
Divorced         1 1

considerations such as these or because smaller families were the trend, but most of the voting women had small families. The two eldest children represented in the Table 3 were approximately 18 to 20 years of age, they were listed in the city directory as being students and lived with their parents. The youngest child was eighteen months old and had won a “perfect baby” contest sponsored by the P.T.A. These contests were held frequently and were for the purpose of creating awareness of childhood diseases which, if detected, could be effectively treated.21 This program might have been the forerunner of the “well-baby clinics” with which we are familiar today, and it was a response to several years’ concern with infant mortality, an impure milk supply, the prevalence of tuberculosis and similar problems.22 The women involved in such programs, and in this study, were representatives of an almost wholly white population23 which made such problems a somewhat universal concern. With regard to

Table 4. Nationality24

British 124 French 2
German 13 Italian 2
Irish 12 Portuguese 1
Jewish 3 Unknown 64

to the milk supply, for example, the dairymen might have wanted to keep their profits up and the councilmen might have liked to acquiesce, but with their own wives and mothers in the opposition camp defending their own children, a pure milk regulation was predictable.

The first impression, that the voter register contained a large majority of English Protestants, was circumstantially supported throughout the research for this study. Unfortunately, the Catholic element in the sample was not established. This was largely due to the relatively high visibility of the Protestants and the low profile maintained by the Catholic laywomen. Of the forty-five churches in San Diego, thirty-nine of them were Protestant and they were the centers around which many of the social and community activities revolved. Of the twenty-six official charitable organizations, only one was Catholic and it was not organized until 1920 and was therefore too new to receive any public attention. Earlier there

Table 5. Religion

  Protestant Christian Science Jewish Unknown
Married 41 2 2 88
Single 13   1 23
Widowed 14     17
M. S. U.       22
Divorced       2

was a Catholic Ladies’ Benevolent Society, but there was no information as to whether it formed the basis for the new organization of 1920. In order to establish the Catholic element in the female population as a whole, therefore, a list of twelve prominent Catholic women was compiled and checked against the voter register. As all of them had registered to vote, the Catholic element was established among the voters, though not for the sample used in this study. Whether Protestant or Catholic, however, the majority of the married women, and many of the others as well, were occupied with the care of home and family. Of the women of all categories, housekeeping occupied 141 of them or 63 per cent. Three of the M.S.U. women might have been employed as housekeepers, but the remainder kept their own homes or those of their relatives. Even among the employed, ten married women, one single woman, one widow and three M.S.U. women were employed in their own homes or residences.25 Of the total employed, the three laundresses are the only ones who can be said to have been employed in laboring occupations and one of these is thought to have owned the laundry, the husband of another owned the one in which she worked, and the third was a Forelady. There were three skilled women, a tailoress, a dressmaker and a seamstress, who perhaps earned considerably more than wage earners. The dressmaker was

Table 6. Occupations of Women

Married Women Number Per Cent Single Women Number Per Cent
Househeepers 106 82 Employed 24 62
Employed 24 16 Housekeepers 5 18
Retired 3 2 Retired 4 10
      Unemployed 4 10
Widowed Women     M.S.U. Women
Housekeepers 20 64 Employed 12 55
Employed 5 16 Housekeepers 9 41
Retired 4 13 Retired 1 4
Unemployed 2 7
      Divorced Women
      Employed 1 50
      Housekeeper 1 50

able to purchase her own home and there was no evidence of a family who might have contributed to it. Of the remainder, the teaching and nursing professions had the largest representation with ten women employed in each, followed by clerical and sales occupations. The average pay was $10 to $12 for a 48-hour week.26

There were 54 women who lived alone and were their own sole means of support; ten women who had adolescent children to support;27 eleven single women who appeared to contribute to the support of one or both parents; and six women who lived with other women. The remaining 144 women, with the addition of four of those above with small children, were provided for, or had contributions from, the incomes of 156 men (husbands, fathers, sons). There was no indication that any of these men were unemployed during the years they remained in San Diego. Some of them changed jobs, but the changes were always lateral or upward, and many of them steadily in proved their positions through promotion. A good example is one young man who appeared for the first time in San Diego as a guide at the world fair in 1915. In 1920 he was a policeman, in 1925 a sergeant, and in 1930 Lt. Detective. But he is not unusual — there were a number of quite impressive promotions over the years. In addition to the income earned from employment, the women devised other means to improve the financial position of themselves and their families.

Table 7. Men’s Occupations and Incomes.28

Group Occupation Income29
17 4 A Professional Prosperous to Wealthy*
4 4 B Self Employed-Large Wealthy to Very Wealthy
19 2 C Self Employed-Small $50-$60/week
15   D Gov/City Employees $25-$60/week
29 5 E White Collar $15-$40/week
17 4 F Skilled Tradesmen $25-$35/week
25 4 G Blue Collar $18-$35/week
7   H Laborers $26-$25/week

*Prosperous to wealthy indicates a salary of $5,000 a year or more.

Table 8. Households.30

Companion Lived
Married 199 9 5
Single 14 1 6 2 14
Widowed 1 11   1 18
M.S.U. 1       21
Divorced 1       1

As there was no social security legislation in 1920, the aged as well as the young were the responsibility of their families. One of the ways the people of San Diego covered all fronts, by caring for their aging parents and enhancing their financial position as well, was in the living arrangements they formed. However, all of the arrangements cannot be viewed as a means to care for the needy, for there were families of parents, unmarried working children and married children all thriving within the same household. There were households containing three generations, and there were a number of women who joined resources with a female relative. As some of these arrangements are particularly revealing of the ways in which individuals found solutions to the problems of living alone, or financial betterment, or both, Table 8 contains a description of some of the unique arrangements. It must be borne in mind, however, that the women represented in this sample were not poor; they had adequate incomes.* Rather it is suggested that they made these arrangements in many cases in order to invest in property. The largest property holders were, of course, the wealthy, but there were also quite extensive holdings among the ordinary men and women. One of the largest holdings belonged to a school teacher who lived with her father, but there were, in addition, many other women who had property, some of whom retained title to homes after their marriage. The female home owners consisted of eighteen married women, eight single women, ten widows, one M.S.U. woman with a large holding, and one M.S.U. with a small one. There were an additional twenty-four women who lived in their own homes with title in the names of their husbands, and the remainder of the homes (8) belonged to the fathers of the single women and the sons of the widows. Included in the property values are the unimproved lots which were purchased. Eighteen lots adjoined owners’ homes and were valued at $150 to $280 each, but the remainder were apparently purchased as speculative investments. There were a total of 578 such lots which were located in all of the outlying county areas and they were assessed at $10 to $160 each. The most owned by one woman was 54, but many people invested in property in this way. There were some who rented homes but owned several lots, some who had a comparatively small home and one or two lots, and many who had one small lot tucked away in the back country who who earned quite small salaries.

Table 9. Living Arrangements

Women in the sample who
were residents in the
households of parents.


1 (lived with her husband
and his parents)
1 (lived with parents-in-law)
3 (lived with mother)
8 (lived with father)
3 (lived with both parents)
6 (lived with parents and
   married siblings)
Women who were residents
in the households of
their children.


4 (both parents lived with
   married sons)
3 (lived with married sons)
Women who were householders
who had married offspring
living with them
4 (had adolescent children as well)
1 (both parents lived with
   unmarried daughter)
Women who lived with other women Single:


2 (both lived with sisters. In one
   case, both worked, one as a
   bookkeeper, one as a saleslady.
   In the other, the woman in the
   sample was the housekeeper,
   the sister was in real estate.)
4 (two widows were housekeepers
   for working daughters, a
   teacher and a saleslady. In
   another, both mother and
   daughter were nurses. The
   The fourth lived with another
   widow of the same name,
   apparently related by marriage).

However, most of the large and valuable property holdings belonged to the affluent and these were largely represented by those who had been in San Diego for ten or more years before 1920. The availability of homes in a wide enough price range and a community which provided some promise of financial security might have a tendency to stabilize the population somewhat, but Americans have historically been a mobile people. Table 11 reflects the length of time and the years, insofar as it could be determined, during which the women in the sample remained in San Diego. As indicated, the possibly native daughters, as judged by their presence in San Diego in 1910, number only 78 or 35 per cent. But geographic backgrounds held in common do not so closely bind Americans together as do common goals. Thus it is that wherever Americans move they find local chapters of nationally organized associations which help to facilitate their acceptance into the new society.

Table 10. Value of Property.31

  Assessed Value
There were five women whose names were on the tax rolls as joint owners of property:  
Over $10,000  
Over 5,000  
Over 2,000  
Over 1,000 (2)
There were 37 women whose male relatives purchased property (husbands, fathers, sons): Over $50,000 (1)
Over 10,000 (2)
5,000-8,000 (4,2 married)
2,000-4,000 (5,2 married)
1,000-2,000 (10 married)
500-1,000 (5 married)
Under $500 (10)
There were 61 women who held property in their own names: Over $10,000 (2 single, 1 widow)
5,000-9,999 (2 married, 1 single)
2,000-4,999 (3 single, 1 divorced, 1 widow)
1,000-1,999 (8 married, 2 single, 7 widows)
500-999 (7 married, 5 single, 2 widows, 1 M.S.U.)
Under $500 (11 married, 4 single, 5 widows)

Table 11. Pattern of Mobility32

Married 34 8 6 25 7 11 14 8 20
Single 8 4 3 2   6 6 4 4
Widowed 4 6 3 2   4 7   5
M.S.U.     2 1     2 5 12
Divorced       1       1

San Diego was no exception to this pattern of association. There were political parties, labor unions, the women’s suffrage movement, the P.T.A., and numerous other associations through which national citizens worked toward common achievements. The usual pattern was the formation of a local group which, when it became established, applied for membership in the national organization.33 Some clubs, however, though modeled after similar clubs elsewhere, were formed to meet local needs. The College Women’s Club was one of these. It was organized for the expressed purpose of the “betterment of the social needs of the entire city” in pursuit of which its members published a comprehensive report on every facet of social life in San Diego.34 The club members also founded Neighborhood House, a settlement similar to Hull House in Chicago, which grew to such proportions that it was incorporated into the jurisdiction of the Community Chest a few years later. Among the many other associated women who worked for a cleaner and healthier city, there were those who felt that suffrage was the means by which women could accomplish their purposes. These women waged a successful campaign in 1911. Of the campaign one of the women later said: “In discussing why women should vote we learned why men should vote; in talking of this reform we learned of other things that need reforming. We were made to think along social, economic, educational and spiritual lines.”35 That the views expressed had relevance is indicated by the activities which followed. Among many other projects, the city and state authorities were actively pressured to clean up the Stingaree district, to remove the tubercular patients from the public wards in County Hospital, and to establish a Health Department in conjunction with the city schools.36 For projects such as these, apparently there was no necessity for the women of San Diego to become politically polemic as their men joined them in these efforts, including some of those who had not, themselves, registered to vote. Of the women who registered whose menfolk did not all of them were married and were from all levels of the economic stratum. As reflected by the differences in Table 14, twenty-seven per cent of the women voters acted autonomously with regard to their party choice. In preparation for the election of 1920, only those San Diegans who had moved or had recently become eligible were required to register to vote.

Table 12. Social Organizations.

Club   Number of members
San Diego Club   2
College Women’s Club   1
La Jolla Women’s Club   2
Pacific Beach Women’s Club   1
Fine Arts Club )
San Diego History Center ) 1
Order of the Eastern Star )
Women’s Welfare Commission   1
P.T.A.   1

Table 13. Political Party Affiliation.

  Number Per Cent
Republican 131 58
Democrat 46 20
No Party Affiliation 44 20
Prohibition 3 1
Progressive 1 .5

Table 14. Political Autonomy

  Number Per Cent
Women whose political party affiliation was the
same as the men in their families:
165 73
Women who registered differently than the men
in their families:
45 20
Women who registered whose male family
members did not:
15 7

Table 15. Population and Registered Voters.39

  Female Male Total
Population 21 years of age and over: 27,278 26,428 53,706
Not eligible, foreign: 2,344 2,871 5,215
Eligible to vote by age: 12,552 15,837 28,389

Of all the voters eligible by age, male and female, 59 per cent registered to vote.
Of the females eligible by age, 50 per cent registered to vote.
Of the males eligible by age, 67 per cent registered to vote.
The female portion of the registered voters constituted 44 per cent of the total.
The male portion of the registered voters constituted 56 per cent of the total.

The one-half of the female population who registered to vote has been the subject of this study. Those who lived in the best residential sections of the city, where their quotient was 50 percent or over, made up as a whole for the other districts where the percentage was lower. There were two precincts, No. 19 which was the Normal School district, and No. 63 which was the professional district, which had a quota of women above 60 per cent. Both of these precincts contained a higher concentration of women due to the presence of teachers, clerical workers, and rooming houses for women. In contrast, the southern portions of sections 5 and 7 contained a low percentage of women voters because their population was low, the areas were given over to rooming and boarding houses for working men. Section 2 was the Chinese district and precinct No. 14 was the poor district containing shacks and tenements. Precincts 9 and 10 were in ranch country and the outlying areas contained small farms, or at least room for truck gardens. The sections of San Diego are difficult to consign residentially, for in almost all of the residential sections, except the poorest, there was an admixture of professional and working people. It was the country and poor areas which contained the largest quota of women who did not vote. The precincts around Balboa Park cannot be accounted for relative to income or professional status as they contained the same classes of people which inhabited the other precincts in that general area. In order, therefore, to establish other criteria with which to define the women voters as a class, other categories of women were selected for whom the voting percentages were ascertained.

Table 16. Comparative Women.

  Number Per Cent Registered
San Diego City School Teachers 40 59
Wives of Physicians and Attorneys 40 52
Women prominent in the P.T.A. 40 45
Property-owning Women 40 40
Mothers of elementary school children 40 37
Property-owning ethnic women 40 0

The indications are that education strongly influenced women to vote and the presence of small children had an adverse affect. The professional wives were quite likely to have been formally educated as well, but it seems probable that another kind of educational process was also influential. The heavy concentration of teachers and professional people in precincts Nos. 19 and 63 suggests that they created an atmosphere conducive to the desire to vote. Another indication that association had influence is to be noted in the percentage of P.T.A. mothers who voted whose contemporaries (mothers of school children) outside the P.T.A. were not so well represented. Here again, the association involved mothers working toward common goals with teachers and professional women. However, while these educational processes must be emphasized as an important source of influence, it is suggested that it was not the strongest, for the results of the study indicate that this lies elsewhere.

The profile of the women voters of 1920 as a class which has emerged from this study is that they were women of English extraction. They were married, with an average age of approximately 35 years, and they saw as their career the all-embracing occupation of housewife and mother even though their families were small. They belonged to a local Protestant church, they occasionally joined a civic or social group, and they were Republicans who identified politically with their husbands.

The strongest influence on the motivation to vote for these women is thought to be their nationality and their age. San Diego was a city built by English people for their own kind, in which from the beginning there were mutual contributions and rewards. Historically both sides, these people and their appointed authorities, had shown a tendency to cooperate with each other to promote the good, avoid damage, and to keep the peace. The times were prosperous, but it is postulated that even had there been a depression, it would have been these same women who went to the polls. Among the 50 per cent of the female population who did not vote were women who were their peers in every way, of course, but the majority of the non-voting women consisted of the poor wives of the laborers who were spasmodically employed and the large numbers of ethnic women. Apparently there was prosperity for some of the ethnic groups as Table 16 testifies, but their total numbers were small compared to the rest of the taxpayers.

The women who registered to vote were also mature women. Even those in the 21-31 age bracket (except a few of the single women) were nearer thirty than twenty-one years of age. It might be said that another education begins when young adults emerge from the classroom. Particularly young women who are involved with infant children require time and experience to fully appreciate which issues are pertinent to their own family’s welfare and the ways in which they can be affected by legislation. In short, marriage and child rearing, as well as employment and association, are educating.

Their Protestantism was natural to them as women of English extraction, but their church was not so much their authority as it was their partner. The church was expected to loan its pastor to moral crusades38 and its facilities to those social and civic functions which its women deemed worthy, and these were usually short-term causes to meet compelling needs.39 And not only were they conservative with their time and involvement, but in their politics as well.

Most of the women, like most of the men, identified politically with the Republican party. Whatever the divergent aims women voters held relative to those of their men, none arose which necessitated an estrangement in the body politic. At times the progress was slow, but the evidence of the social and welfare literature used in this study clearly indicates that progress was made.40 The men and women in 1920 shared the same necessities, goals and hopes. There was no rivalry; either a woman was married and her husband’s welfare hers, or she worked in a woman’s job such as teaching or nursing. They all thus needed employment and income, they wanted to buy homes and other property, and they hoped for security in their old age and a better world for their children.  


*San Diegans had enjoyed prosperity for several years due to the increased commercial activity resulting from the world’s fair and the war and the construction industry. According to Dr. Ryan, they were to continue in prosperity for another year as the depression of the post war years did not affect San Diego until late 1921.

1. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Second Edition, (London: Oxford University Press, 1953) 196.26 quoting George Eliot in The Mill on the Floss,, ch. 3.

2. The equal suffrage amendment passed in June, 1920, just in time for the presidential election of that year.

3. The Journal of San Diego History, VIII (October 1967) combined with VIX (January, 1968), pp. 59-62.

4. MacPhail, Elizabeth C., When the Redlights Went Out in San Diego, (San Diego: San Diego History Center, 1974). The Stingaree was said to be comparable to San Francisco’s Barbary Coast district.

5. Journal, p. 62. Camp Kearny was created, Ft. Rosecrans and North Island were strengthened, the Marine Base was dedicated in 1919, and the city was important as a Naval port though the Naval Training Station and the Eleventh Naval District were not established until 1921 and 1922 respectively.

6. Killion, P.E. “Growth of San Diego from 1900-1931,” San Diego Public Library, California Room, San Diego, Typescript. Commerce and building value doubled from 1910 to 1920.

7. Ibid. Between 1910 and 1920 installation of gas, electric, and water meters as well as telephones more than doubled; school attendance tripled.

8. San Diego County Clerk, Index to the Great Register of San Diego City and County, 1920.

9. Political autonomy was conceived to test the hypothesis, used as an argument against granting suffrage to women, that they would vote as their men did, thus essentially giving some men more than one vote. As used in this study, it is reflected only by those women who registered differently than the men in their families, and those who registered to vote who had men in their families who did not register to vote.

10. Knights, Peter R., The Plain People of Boston 1830-1860, (New York, 1971) p. 6.

11. The city directories of 1910, 1915, 1920, 1925 and 1930 were used.

12. San Diego County Tax Records, 1919 and 1920, were used to establish property holdings.

13. The San Diego History Center has well over 100 biographical notebooks containing information on San Diego citizens consisting of personal papers and newspaper articles.

14. Marital status is the criterion used to divide the sample into discrete segments relative to most of the categories in this study.

15. Percentage points have been rounded off throughout.

16. The “Marital Status Unknown” category consists of five women in the sample who declared no marital status in the register and of seventeen women who designated themselves as married, but for whom throughout the research there was no evidence of the presence of a husband. However, of the seventeen, five were remarried before 1925 and it can be inferred that they were separated, divorced or widowed in 1920. The five who declared no marital status are thought to have been single. By 1925, seven of the single women were also married. The “Marital Status Unknown” category will hereinafter be designated by the initials M.S.U.

17. U.S. Census, 1920 Abstract, Table 17. For the female population in San Diego, the married women constituted approximately 57 per cent, single women 23 percent, the widowed 17 per cent, and the divorced .2 per cent.

18. San Diego’s welfare program for the unemployed was so poorly organized and the accumulated problems so severe that by 1929 the situation warranted the appointment of a special commission to study and recommend. For the report of the commission see G.B. Mangold, Community Welfare in San Diego, San Diego County Welfare Commission and City of San Diego, 1929, San Diego Public Library, California Room, San Diego.

19. U.S. Census Abstract, Table 17. For the ages 15-24 there were 1795 married women, but only 591 men. The population figures for this age group were 7,086 women and 9,594 men.

20. There were several women with married children which are not shown above. The children shown in the table are those who were dependents.

21. Historical file, P.T.A. District Office, San Diego, California.

22. College Women’s Club, Pathfinder Social Survey of San Diego, (San Diego Labor Temple Press, 1914). The programs, documents and reports are numerous, but this was made by the Settlement Committee and is the most comprehensive. It will be used throughout this study.

23. The racial representation in the population was nominal containing only 795 Negro, 40 Indian, 216 Chinese, and 607 Japanese. Only the Negro population was divided evenly between the sexes. Of the other races combined there were less than 200 females.

24. Applying the criteria of various language characteristics such as Abbot, Adams, English; Monohan, Irish; Schmidt, German; the names of the women were deemed to reflect the national origins shown. There were three foreign-born women in the sample representing England, New Zealand, and Norway.

25. For a precise breakdown of women’s occupations, see Appendix A.

26. Dr. Frederick L. Ryan, A History of the San Diego Labor Movement 1900-1950, Typescript, 1959, The San Diego History Center, San Diego, California. The California Minimum Wage Board set the wages and hours for women. In addition to the 48-hour week and the $10 per week minimum wage, part-time employment for women was compensated at .25 per hour.

27. Four of these were widows who had young children, but had married children living in the home as well.

28. Ryan, Labor Movement, The union scale for men in 1920 was a 44-hour week, $6 per day for building trades and skilled; $3-3.50 per day for unskilled labor; trades such as barbers and bakers earned $16-18 per week. For a list of men’s occupations, see Appendix B.

29. P.E. Killion, Growth of San Diego from 1900-1931, Typescript, San Diego Public Library, California Room, San Diego, California. The income figures not based on Ryan’s reports are based on this one. This report listed the number of employees and the wages paid for the various businesses in San Diego.

30. Nuclear Family means parents and children whether children are employed or in school; extended family means married children and parents; kindred household includes parents, married children, unmarried children and other relatives; the others are selfexplanatory.

31. For the figures on home ownership, only those homes of assessed value exceeding $500 were counted, but the present Tax Collector suggested that there were homes in 1920 which were assessed at less. He said that these would be very small, in deteriorating neighborhoods or without plumbing. If these kinds of homes were included in the above figures, it would swell the home owners to 95.

32. Table 11 reflects only those women who elected to be shown in the city directories. Two married women and several widows died between 1920 and 1930. Twelve women were married between 1920 and 1925 and of these, six were shown in the 1925 directory, six were not. Relative to mobility, there were a number of people who formed a somewhat random group which moved about frequently within the same neighborhood. There were also a number of families who lived in close proximity, sometimes right next door, or a block or two distant.

33. Examples are The Community Chest, 1922; Boy Scouts, 1917; and the P.T.A., 1914.

34. Pathfinder Social Survey reported on the water supply, sewage, city planning, housing, minorities, public health, and many other subjects.

35. Gibson, Mary S., Record of Twenty-five Years of the California Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1900-1925, (California Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1925) p. 64.

36. Community Chest of San Diego, Directory of Social Agencies in San Diego with a Plan of Organization of the Community Welfare Council 1930, Typescript, San Diego Public Library, California Room, San Diego, California.

37. The California voting requirement was 21 years of age or over; in the state one year, the county 90 days, and in the precinct 30 days; the ability to read the constitution and to write one’s name. Criminal exclusion included convictions for bribery, malfeasance, dueling, and felony conviction. The only racial exclusion pertained to the Chinese. (From the Registrar of Voters office, San Diego, California).
The U.S. Census Abstract 1920, Table 10, was used for the population figures.

38. MacPhail, Red Lights, p. 15. The Reverends L.A. Dejarnett, University Christian Church and William E. Crabreee, Central Christian Church were among the leaders of the Purity League which led the crusade to clean up the downtown districts.

39. The women in the sample were involved in countless charity drives, social activities for servicemen, Missionary Committees and the like, but these were divided among them, the same did not reappear in all the projects.

40. The dates of the social surveys indicate an on-going pattern of attack on deleterious social conditions: Pathfinder, 1914; Community Welfare, 1929; Community Chest, 1930; and there were many accomplishments in the interim.

Appendix A

Occupations of Women

Married Women

*Apartment Manager (2)
*Author (a published poet)
*Christian Science Practitioner
Chocolate Dipper
Clerk (2)
Hotel Employee (2)
Lab. Technician
*Landlady (2)
Nurse (2)

Single Women

Assistant Librarian
Clerk (3)
Hotel Employee
Stenographer (2)
Telephone Operator (2)
Teacher (8)

Widowed Women

Forelady (laundry)

Divorced Women


Status Unknown Women

Cafeteria Checker
*Music Teacher
Nurse (2)
Playground Director

*Employed in their own homes or residences
Appendix B

Occupations of Men

Group A   Professional

Physician (7)
Attorney (3)
Clergyman (4)

Group B   Self Employed

Large Firms:
   Contractor (Building)
   Insurance Broker
   Land Developer
   Meat Wholesaler (10 outlets)
   Olive Packer
   Real Estate
   Monarch Drug Co.

Group C

Small Firms:

Grocer (3)
Cleaner and Dyer
Contractor (Building) (2)
Garage, used cars
Hotel (his mother owned it, but he and his wife lived there and managed it)
Loan Co.
Merchant (4)
Rancher (3) 1 of these was actually an estate owner.
Gardener (3)

Group D   Government, City, County

Deputy County Clerk
Deputy City Treasurer
U.S. Navy
Post Office Clerk
Mail Carrier (3)
Deputy Sheriff
Policeman (2)
Fire Department (3)
Board of Education

Group E   White Collar

Bank Teller
Clerk (PT&T)
Circulation Mgr. Union Tribune
Hotel & Apt. Mgr. (4)
Manager Boat Co.

12 Retail
3 Real Estate
l Insurance

Dept. Store Clerk (2)
Title Officer
Dept. Supt. (SD Cons. Elec.)

Group F   Skilled

Butcher (2)
Carpenter (2)
Chauffeur (limousine)
Electrician (2)
Meat Cutter
Movie Projector Opr.
Pattern Maker
Plumber (2)
Railroad Conductor

Group G   Blue Collar

Automobile Mach. (11)
Truck Driver (9)
Auto. Opr.
Laundry/Cleaner (2)
Mill Foreman

Group H   Laborers

Construction (3)
Unknown (4) (3 of these turned out later to be carpenters – maybe apprentices in 1920)