The Graduate Review


Although the Progressive Era has drawn the attention of countless scholars, few historians have deeply investigated one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the era, Muller v. Oregon (1908). It was not until the failure of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972 that scholars seriously considered the case. The failure of the ERA brought a surge of scholarship from the field of history, law, sociology, psychology, and communications. This historiography examines the reemergence of interest in Muller v. Oregon in the years following the ERA’s failure. In addition to examining the increasing interest of scholars, this historiography also considers the method in which secondary school educators should teach the Muller case. Should Muller be taught as a triumph of progressivism or as a setback for women’s rights? This historiography considers the important changes Muller brought to the Supreme Court’s decision-making process as well as the damaging legacy left in its wake. As the United States appears to move toward revoking protective legislation for a woman’s reproductive rights, Muller v. Oregon, deserves to be studied by students and scholars alike.

Note on the Author

Emma Wells is pursuing her Master of Arts in Teaching History. Her historiography was completed in fall 2022 under the mentorship of Dr. Brian Payne. She plans to continue teaching high school history and conducting research in the realm of gender history, socio-politics, and genocide studies.