Throughout American history, society has had stereotypes of a woman’s role being a wife and a mother. In fact, when doing research, a librarian asked me what I was studying, and when I told her I was reading about childless women in the early 1900s, she said she did not think any existed. The fact is, though, that women without children have always existed in America, for a variety of reasons. Environmental scientist Dr. Rachel Carson, poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox, author Edith Wharton, activist Angelina Weld Grimké, and playwright Maurine Dallas Watkins are a few notable American women who went without children. Even first ladies Sarah Polk and Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, a role that many Americans associate with a wife and mother, went their entire marriages without children. They are joined by many other American women who did not have children in the early 1900s.

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