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Biographies Unit Biographies

Katherine Philips Edson 1870-1933
Progressive Reformer

Katherine Philips Edson did not set out to be a reformer. She studied to be an opera singer and married a music teacher. Together, they moved to California.

Edson worked for reform because she saw problems that needed to be fixed. As a young mother, she led the fight for “pure milk.” “How can a woman who wants to do the right thing by her babies stay at home and keep quiet while they drink impure milk?” she wrote.

Edson was never one to stay at home and keep quiet. She fought to get women the right to vote. She fought for new laws to protect women workers. Edson was energetic and persuasive. She became known as one of California's leading progressives.

Comprehension Check

Why did Edson work for rights for consumers, workers, and women?

Critical Thinking

Why is Edson an important person in California history?