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7 Things You Might Not Know About the Women’s Suffrage Movement

7 Things You Might Not Know About the Women’s Suffrage Movement



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1. The US women’s suffrage movement had its roots in the abolition movement.

In the fight for women's suffrage, most of the earliest activists found their way to the cause through the abolition movement of the 1830s. Abolitionist groups such as the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS), led by William Lloyd Garrison, provided women with opportunities to speak, write and organize on behalf of enslaved people—and in some cases gave them leadership roles. Prominent female abolitionists included the sisters Angelica and Sarah Grimké, Lucretia Mott, Harriet Beecher Stowe and the former slave Sojourner Truth, whose “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech in 1851 earned her lasting fame.

In 1840, when Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, they were forced into the gallery along with all the women who attended. Their indignation led them, eight years later, to organize the first U.S. women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York.

READ MORE: 5 Black Suffragists Who Fought for the 19th Amendment

2. After the Civil War, many abolitionists and women’s rights activists parted ways over women's suffrage.

In the early years of the women’s rights movement, the agenda included much more than just the right to vote. Their broad goals included equal access to education and employment, equality within marriage, and a married woman’s right to her own property and wages, custody over her children and control over her own body.

After the Civil War, debate over the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution— which would grant citizenship and suffrage to African-American men—inspired many women’s rights activists to refocus their efforts on the battle for female suffrage. Some, like Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, campaigned against any suffrage amendment that would exclude women, while some of their former allies—including Lucy Stone, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe and Frederick Douglass—argued that this was “the Negro’s hour” and female suffrage could wait.

In 1869, Stanton and Anthony founded the female-only National Woman Suffrage Association, which stood in opposition to Stone and Blackwell’s American Woman Suffrage Association. The rift between the two sides endured until 1890, when the two organizations merged to form the National American Women’s Suffrage Association.

READ MORE: A Timeline of the Fight for All Women's Right to Vote

3. Susan B. Anthony (and 15 other women) voted illegally in the presidential election of 1872.

In 1868, a group of 172 Black and white women went to the polls in Vineland, New Jersey, providing their own ballots and box in order to cast their votes in that year’s national election. Between 1870 and 1872, around 100 women tried to register and vote in the District of Columbia and states around the country. Finally, in 1872, Susan B. Anthony led a group of 16 women in demanding to be registered and vote in Rochester, New York.

All 16 were arrested, but only Anthony would be tried for violating the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed “the right to vote…to any of the male inhabitants” of the United States over 21 years of age. Judge Ward Hunt would not permit Anthony to take the stand in her own defense, and eventually directed the jury to issue a guilty verdict. He sentenced Anthony to pay a $100 fine, which she refused to do, challenging the judge to hold her in custody or send her to jail. Hunt declined, knowing this would allow her to appeal her case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Although her case was closed at that point, “Aunt Susan” earned widespread respect and inspired younger women with her courageous example, helping to ensure that her cause would eventually triumph some 14 years after her own death.

4. The women’s rights movement launched its own fashion craze.

In 1851, Elizabeth Smith Miller of Geneva, New York debuted a radical new look: a knee-length skirt with full Turkish-style pantaloons gathered at the ankle. Amelia Jenks Bloomer, publisher of a trailblazing newspaper for women called The Lily, wrote articles about Miller’s outfit and printed illustrations of it. She even wore something similar herself and urged other women to shed their heavy, bulky hoop skirts in favor of the new style. In addition to revealing the fact that women actually had legs under their skirts (shocking!), the so-called “bloomers” made it easier for their wearers to get through doorways, onto carriages and trains and along rainy, muddy streets.

Bloomers quickly grew so popular that they became synonymous with the women’s rights movement—and infamous among the movement’s critics. Though activists such as Susan B. Anthony discarded the style after they realized they were getting more attention for their dress than their message, this early fashion rebellion would eventually help women claim the freedom to wear what they wanted.

READ MORE: Why Susan B. Anthony Spent 50 Years Dressed in Black

5. A woman ran for political office nearly 50 years before women got the vote.

Victoria Woodhull, one of the most colorful and vivid figures of the U.S. women’s suffrage movement, rose from poor and eccentric origins. As children, she and her sister Tennessee Claflin gave psychic readings and healing sessions in a traveling family show. In 1870, with backing from railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, the sisters opened a stock brokerage firm. They used their Wall Street profits to bankroll a controversial newspaper, which supported such causes as legalized prostitution and free love.

Victoria won increased respect from women’s rights activists when she argued on behalf of female suffrage in front of the House Judiciary Committee in early 1871, and the following year the Equal Rights Party nominated her for president of the United States. By the time of the general election in 1872, Woodhull’s enemies had gotten the better of her temporarily, and she spent Election Day in jail after publishing an article that accused the popular preacher Henry Ward Beecher of adultery. She was eventually acquitted of all charges, moved to England and married a wealthy banker.

READ MORE: The Woman Who Became Governor 11 Years Before Women's Suffrage

6. Britain's women’s suffrage movement was far more militant than its counterpart in the US.

While the female suffrage movements in Britain and the United States had many commonalities, they also had significant differences. For one thing, British women seeking the vote called themselves “suffragettes,” while Americans preferred the more gender-neutral “suffragists.” And the British activists were far more militant. Under the leadership of Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), thousands of suffragettes demonstrated in the streets, chained themselves to buildings, heckled politicians, broke store windows, planted explosive devices and engaged in other destructive activities in order to pressure Britain’s Liberal government to give women the vote. In a particularly gruesome (and public) display, Emily Wilding Davison was fatally trampled by a racehorse owned by King George V when she tried to pin a sash advertising the suffragette cause to the horse’s bridle during the Epsom Derby in 1913.

More than 1,000 suffragettes were imprisoned between 1908 and 1914; when they engaged in hunger strikes to draw public attention to their cause, prison officials responded by force-feeding them. Such militant tactics ceased when World War I broke out, as Pankhurst and the WSPU threw all their support behind the patriotic cause. In 1918, the British government granted suffrage to all women over the age of 30, ostensibly in recognition of women’s contributions to the war effort.

7. But some American suffragists, inspired by the British, adopted militant tactics themselves.

In 1907, an American Quaker named Alice Paul was studying in England when she joined British women in their campaign for suffrage. Over the next three years, while doing graduate work at the Universities of Birmingham and London, Paul was arrested and jailed three times for suffragist agitation. After returning to the United States, she joined the National American Suffrage Association, founded by Carrie Chapman Catt, but soon grew impatient with that organization’s mild-mannered tactics. In 1913, Paul and fellow militants formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, later the National Woman’s Party.

Their demonstrations outside Woodrow Wilson’s White House in 1917 culminated in the so-called “Night of Terror” that November, during which guards at Virginia’s Occoquan Workhouse brutally beat some 30 female picketers. At the time, Paul herself was serving a seven-month stint in prison, where she was force-fed and confined to a psychiatric ward. In January 1918, a district court overturned all the women’s sentences without ceremony; that same month, President Wilson declared his support for the Susan B. Anthony Amendment (later the 19th Amendment) granting female suffrage.















WATCH: Fight the Power: The Movements that Changed America, premieres Saturday, June 19 at 8/7c on The HISTORY® Channel.


Women's Suffrage in the Progressive Era

Immediately after the Civil War, Susan B. Anthony, a strong and outspoken advocate of women's rights, demanded that the Fourteenth Amendment include a guarantee of the vote for women as well as for African-American males. In 1869, Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association. Later that year, Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and others formed the American Woman Suffrage Association. However, not until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919 did women throughout the nation gain the right to vote.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, women and women's organizations not only worked to gain the right to vote, they also worked for broad-based economic and political equality and for social reforms. Between 1880 and 1910, the number of women employed in the United States increased from 2.6 million to 7.8 million. Although women began to be employed in business and industry, the majority of better paying positions continued to go to men. At the turn of the century, 60 percent of all working women were employed as domestic servants. In the area of politics, women gained the right to control their earnings, own property, and, in the case of divorce, take custody of their children. By 1896, women had gained the right to vote in four states (Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah). Women and women's organizations also worked on behalf of many social and reform issues. By the beginning of the new century, women's clubs in towns and cities across the nation were working to promote suffrage, better schools, the regulation of child labor, women in unions, and liquor prohibition.

Not all women believed in equality for the sexes. Women who upheld traditional gender roles argued that politics were improper for women. Some even insisted that voting might cause some women to "grow beards." The challenge to traditional roles represented by the struggle for political, economic, and social equality was as threatening to some women as it was to most men.


We can date the beginning of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the USA to 1848. For 2 days, women and men met in Seneca Falls, NY at the first Women’s Right Convention, to discuss and debate the issues and aims. At the end of the convention, 68 women and 32 men put their signature to a set of 12 resolutions, known as the Declaration of Sentiments, calling for the right of women to vote and the equality of treatment for women and men under the law.

Of all the important facts about women’s suffrage, you might be surprised to learn that the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution that granted the right for women to vote was actually only passed by ONE vote. Consensus usually points to Harry Burn as the man who swung things the female way. His mother wrote him "to do the right thing” and when he voted YES, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the Amendment. This was in 1920.


The suffrage movement began as a fight for broader rights

Before women fought for the right to vote, they first had to fight for the right to be considered independent citizens, explains Allison Lange, an assistant professor of history at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Women had to first escape from the laws of coverture, a legal doctrine under which a woman’s legal rights were up to her husband. Coverture prohibited married women from signing legal documents, owning property and having a real profession.

When the movement for women’s rights in the U.S. launched &mdash an event usually attributed to an 1848 meeting in Seneca Falls, N.Y. &mdash the leaders who set the nation on the path to the 19th Amendment were focused on those issues, too.

“The Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 really called for a really wide range of rights: education, economic rights, the right to a good job, the right to own property and the right to vote. [The right to vote] was just one of many rights for women in 1848,&rdquo Lange tells TIME.

Lange says the shift towards suffrage as a central focus for women’s groups began with the passage of the 15th Amendment, which prohibited the government from denying black men the right to vote, in 1869. “That’s a pretty pivotal moment for the suffrage movement,” she says.


Unlearning History: The Women’s Suffrage Movement

This year marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which prohibited the denial of voting rights on the basis of sex. What’s not often acknowledged in classroom textbooks and curriculum is the reality that not all women gained the right to vote. While the previously ratified 15th amendment prohibited Federal and State governments from denying the right to vote based on color, race or previous servitude, nothing in the U.S constitution and no federal laws explicitly prohibited discrimination on the basis of color, race and sex. Thus, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other women and men of color did not see their voting rights ensured until the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts, more than 40 years later.

The 19th amendment guaranteed all women the right to vote. FALSE

On August 18th 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified. The amendment stated that The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Even though Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other women of color played a significant role in ratification of the 19th amendment, the language of the amendment did not explicitly protect their voting rights on the basis of their race. So while monumental, the amendment only protected the voting rights of white women. For example, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper-- a Black woman-- spent her whole life advocating for abolitionism and women’s rights, and made a call to action to the suffragists at the National Woman’s Rights Convention in 1866, urging them to include Black women in their fight.

While voting discrimination was prohibited on the basis of gender, loopholes in the system allowed for voting obstacles, including poll taxes and literacy tests, intimidation tactics, the denial of citizenship because of ancestry/immigrant status, and other racist strategies. These tactics were used by white Americans to prevent Black, Indigenous, and people of color from voting.

The Suffragists were progressive. FALSE

The women’s suffrage movement was inspired by Indigenous civilizations in which women often held leadership positions inside and outside the home. Additionally, the women’s suffrage movement had its roots in the abolitionist movement. Initially, women, free people of color, and enslaved people bonded over a mutual desire for suffrage. Women were often invited to speak at abolitionists group meetings, allowing them to utilize their platforms to call for change. Frederick Douglas, an abolitionist and reformer, was one of the 31 men, and the only African American present, to sign the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. He also established the American Equal Rights Association alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, advocating for universal voting rights.

While the 15th amendment prevented the U.S. government and States from denying citizens the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” it did not include “sex” as a protected category. A deep divide in the suffrage movement emerged and expanded. Recognizing that the South was still recovering from their loss in the war, grappling with a future without slavery, and a lack of support within the U.S. Congress for universal suffrage, some Black suffragists, including Frederick Douglass and Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, advocated for the endorsement of the 15th Amendment as it was written. Many white leaders within the women’s suffrage movement felt betrayed, and their reactions exposed their racism and elitism. The suffragists shifted their focus to single-mindedly pursuing voting rights for white women. Leveraging their power and privilege, they made a conscious decision to exclude BIPOC women from their movement.

The women’s suffrage movement was peaceful. FALSE

The women’s suffrage movement typically relied on peaceful tactics such as lobbying, parading and petitioning. Nonetheless, the women were not strangers to violence. In 1913, members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association were attacked by spectators as they participated in a suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. After decades of campaigning peacefully, yet making little progress and facing violent responses, the suffragists adjusted their strategy to one that embraced firmer methods.

As part of their new methods, women began picketing at the White House. In one instance, in 1917, 33 women, members of the National Woman’s Party, up to 73 years-old, were arrested and tortured while protesting outside the White House. In retaliation, women participated in hunger strikes while imprisoned, leading to more violence as authorities retaliated with forced feedings. These outcomes were seen not just in D.C, but across the nation as more and more women united, demonstrated and picketed, they were met with more resistance and violence from authorities and spectators.

Women have equal rights today. FALSE

It is important to discuss, learn and unlearn the history of the women’s suffrage movement. It is also important to discuss and acknowledge the injustices that continued to exist within the system following the ratification of the 19th amendment. Black, Indigenous and People of Color women continued to challenge the systems in place for decades after, and continue to do so today.

While BIPOC were left behind by the 19th amendment, the movements for universal suffrage and equal rights continued. Black people continued to fight for their rights well into the 1960s. However, injustices persist today because white supremacist institutions continue to allow racism and discrimination to prevail.

The equal rights amendment (ERA), initially introduced in 1923 during the Women’s Suffrage Movement, states “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The ERA regained momentum during the 1960s and 1970s, following the success of the Civil Rights movement. Pro-ERA groups lobbied, petitioned and demonstrated, revisiting suffragists’ tactics from the 1920s in order to meet the deadline for states to ratify the amendment, 1979. While the amendment deadline was extended to 1982, it did not receive sufficient votes and was not ratified.

The ERA was subsequently introduced to congress every year since. It was not until January of this year, 2020, that Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment. It is now up to congress to remove the original deadline and push the amendment forward.

Even if the ERA successfully gets ratified by congress, injustices continue to prevent BIPOC women from exercising their right to vote. Voter ID laws, voter registration limitations, voter purges, felony disenfranchisement (when the incarceration rates are extremely disproportionate across races), gerrymandering, limited early voting dates and locations are just some of the tactics in place to block voting rights.

As the fight for equality and equity continue, the idea of intersectionality has gained momentum as a call to action for current movements to reframe what and who they are advocating for. Originally coined by scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectionality refers to the overlap, or intersection of race, class, gender, and other individual characteristics. When movements recognize intersectionality, they become more inclusive and more effective. Imagine, had women's suffrage movement leaders such as Susan B. Anthony relinquished their racist ideals and advocated for those who looked different from them, all women (and men) may have actually secured the right to vote 100 years ago.

What is our call to action as educators? We must teach the painful reality of our history. It is up to us to disrupt the prevailing narrative that the 19th amendment was written for all women, or that all women could vote after the amendment passed 100 years ago. We can no longer deny that the women's suffrage movement was racist in action and practice due to it’s white leaders. Or the lie that all women are treated and seen as equal. As educators, we must choose to enlighten ourselves and our students so we can effectively advocate for ourselves and our peers. And importantly, we must encourage our students to be critical and analyze the stories, curriculum and media they consume. It is time for all of us to unlearn the systems of discrimination and racism, once and for all.

Media Literacy Connection:

After listening to Using Media to Know Better and Teach Better, Britt Hawthorne’s question framework for selecting media heavily resonated with me. She suggests we ask ourselves:

  • Who is this content centering?
  • What stories may be missing?
  • How will this leave your learners feeling?
  • Who is the intended audience of this media?
  • Who is going to feel really good about it?

Educators, I urge you to take a look at your curriculum, your lessons and the media you are using in your class and answer some of these questions. This time, I challenge you to do so as you celebrate the Centennial of the 19th Amendment in your classrooms.

PBS Resources to supplement teaching the Women’s Suffrage Movement/US Suffrage History:


The History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in New Jersey

As we near a presidential election, reminders, messages, and encouragement to get out and vote make its way into every conversation and crevice of social media and the Internet – for good reason! But imagine this scenario: over 100 years ago, women weren’t allowed to hit the polls because it was illegal for females to vote in any capacity. This was the insane reality that women in the United State faced prior to the passing of women’s suffrage in 1920 – which took place 100 years ago on August 18, 2020. Here’s a bit of history around the movement, specifically in New Jersey.

New Jersey women have a unique history with the women’s suffrage movement. Under the first New Jersey Constitution, which was created in 1776, prior to the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787, women were allowed to vote. In 1807, this was amended to only “free, white males,” and continued in 1844 a newly written New Jersey Constitution revoked voting and property rights from females. This denial of rights previously granted lit a hotter fire in New Jersey suffragettes, particularly.

After learning more about the organizations they founded, tactics they implemented, stories of their general commitment, and for some, commitment to becoming elected officials, one point becomes quite clear – Jersey girls know how to make things happen.

A Tiresome Timeline

Before we jump into the details, here’s a quick overview of the road to the right to vote.

1776: New Jersey constitution allows women to vote, under certain conditions.

1790: New Jersey passes the “Acts of the Fifteenth General Assembly” which distinguishes voters as both “he” and “she.”

1797: Black women and white women in New Jersey were voting in the state if they met residency and property requirements. More info here.

1800: According to Washington Post, “A ll inhabitants [in New Jersey] who are worth at least 50 pounds and have lived in New Jersey for a year, “they” shall have the right to vote,” which created an ‘accidental loophole’ for women to vote.

1807: New Jersey’s Constitution amended voting laws to limit voting to “free, white males” per NPS.gov.

1844: A new, second New Jersey constitution limits voting to “free, white males,” as well.

1848: The first-ever women’s rights convention is held in the United States in Seneca Falls, New York at a small chapel with

200 women. The event was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, who had met previously at an anti-slavery convention in London.

1857: A woman named Lucy Stone makes a move that shakes history for the better – she refuses to pay her property taxes on a home she purchased in Orange, NJ, claiming “taxation without representation.” She felt it was against the principles of America to expect women to pay taxes while denying them voting and property rights.

1867: Antoinette Brown Blackwell of Elizabeth, NJ and Lucy Stone create the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association and hold the organization’s first convention .

1868: This is a pivotal year of petition and protest for women’s voting rights, specifically for the women of New Jersey. The eventful year includes:

    • New Jersey women officially petition the state legislature for voting and property rights. According to a report on the hearings by the Paterson Daily Press, the New Jersey Senate is said to have actually mocked the suffrage position submitted by the NJWSA.
    • Lucy Stone publishes a letter titled Reasons Why the Women of New Jersey Should Vote.
    • Soon-to-become suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony both attend a NJWSA meeting in Vineland, NJ.
    • Portia Gage tries to vote in a municipal election in Vineland, NJ, but fails.

    1869: Black men gain the right to vote via the ratification of the 15th Amendment, prompting suffragettes to fight harder for women’s voting rights on both the state and national levels. The American Woman Suffrage Association is founded by Lucy Stone and the National Woman Suffrage Association .

    1873: Women in New Jersey are eligible to serve as school trustees, but are not given voting rights on school elections and matters.

    1880: Elizabeth Cady Stanton attempts to vote in Tenafly, NJ.

    1884: Once again, as they did in 1868, New Jersey women petition the state legislature for full voting rights. It is declined.

    1887: Women gain the right to vote in school elections in New Jersey.

    1894: A Supreme Court decision rules that it is unconstitutional for women to vote in school elections, superseding the New Jersey decision made in 1887.

    1897: School election voting rights for women is put to a national vote, but is defeated.

    1910: Florence Peshine Eagleton is the first woman to serve as a trustee of Rutgers University.

    1912: A resolution for the passing of women’s suffrage is introduced in the New Jersey Senate. The NJ courts see through a case arguing that it was unconstitutional for the second New Jersey Constitution to take away women’s voting rights. The courts do not agree.

    1913: Politicians in both the Republican and Democratic parties publicly endorse women’s suffrage and hold meetings with then-President Woodrow Wilson.

    1914: NJ native Grace Baxter Fenderson becomes a founder of the NAACP, which joins the fight for women’s suffrage.

    1915: President Woodrow Wilson shares his support of suffrage for “private citizens” two weeks before the women’s suffrage decision was being put to a vote. The NJ referendum to ratify the amendment denying women the right to vote was defeated. NJWSA membership reaches 50,000 women.

    1915: Reverend Florence Spearing Randolph founded the New Jersey chapter of the National Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. She presided over its first convention, consisting of over 30 clubs from across the state, held in Englewood, NJ.

    1917: The National Women’s Party creates a chapter in New Jersey, led by Alison Hopkins.

    1918: New Jersey women are among many arrested at mass protests in Washington DC. The NJWSA becomes an organization of 120,000 women strong after smaller organizations decided to merge with them or become fierce allies.

    1919: Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City begins consulting the New Jersey State Suffrage Association as the time was now for them to build and grow upon their already strong momentum.

    1920: The 19th Amendment is passed in the United States — meaning the suffrage amendment is ratified in New Jersey, making it the 29th state to allow women to vote. Voting becomes legal for women across the United States of America. But, there was still much work to be done. Read an article here on the continued history of women’s voting rights, specifically Black women of color, here.

    Under the passing of the 19th Amendment, Black women should be able to vote but were not always able to in actuality. They were often wrongly told by elected officials that they were in the wrong voting place, didn’t possess proper literary skills required to vote, or filled out their application incorrectly, according to History.com.

    1921: Margaret Laird and Jennie Van Ness became the inaugural women to earn an elected position in the New Jersey Assembly.

    1925: Rebecca Estelle Bourgeois Winston of Estell Manor is elected New Jersey’s first female mayor.

    1965: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, overcoming legal barriers at both the local and state levels that prevented People of Color from voting.

    This article highlights the culmination of this law passing, which happened right after the march from Selma to Montgomery and MLK’s famous speech.

    Suffragette Strategies

    Women across the nation, and particularly in New Jersey, spent years devising different strategies and tactics to help gain momentum and influence both politicians and individuals to join in on their cause. There were 3 main ways they were able to work and gather support effectively:

    Meetings and Publications

    New Jersey women turned to lectures, meetings, and conventions to keep themselves informed and effective as a group. As the timeline shows, varying organizations were formed to ensure the fight for suffrage was powerful and continuous. In the 1910s, a Hudson County newspaper began a recurring column titled “Women’s Suffrage Forum” that shared information about local women’s suffrage events and news. This was the primary way that female residents of Hudson County could find out whether individual states voted to allow female residents of their respective states to vote.

    Fundraisers

    In order to raise money to support the work of suffragists, women held concerts, performances, baseball games and automobile parades. It helped that much of these events sparked the interest of male voters – New Jersey women were thinking strategically.

    Publicity Stunts

    In New Jersey, it was common for women to attempt to vote as a protest for women’s suffrage. Women would often bring signs and friends to support their performance act. One famous publicity stunt that occurred in 1914-1915 was known as the “passing of the suffrage torch” and pulled off by women from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The stunt involved a wooden-carved, bronze-plated “Torch of Liberty” passing from town-to-town and used as a campaigning tool to drive conversation and demonstration for women’s suffrage. The torch made its way to the Hudson River in 1915 and passed from New York to New Jersey via a tugboat transfer between Mina Van Winkle and Louisine Havemeyer .

    Famous New Jersey Suffragettes

    As evidenced by the timeline, New Jersey women played a particularly important role in the women’s suffrage movement. From attempting to vote as an act of protest to organizing petitions, the below women are some of the most well-known and well-achieved suffragettes in history, not just in the state.

    • Antoinette Brown Blackwell was born in 1825 in NY, but lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey for most of her teenage and adult life. With her sister-in-law Lucy Stone, she founded the New Jersey Women’s Suffrage Association in 1869. Antoinette was the first ordained minister in the United States and was one of the early suffragettes who had the opportunity to vote in the 1920 presidential election, at the age of 95.
    • Alice Paul was born in 1885 in Mount Laurel, NJ to progressive parents who believed in gender equality and education for women. Alice’s mother was a suffragette who brought her daughter along to meetings. Alice was a highly educated woman and in her adult life, became a major organization of meetings, protests, petitions, and acts in favor of the women’s suffrage movement. Paul moved to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress for change and soon became a nationally known name in the fight for women’s voting rights.
    • Lillian Feickert was born in 1887 in Plainfield, New Jersey. She held the title of president of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association for eight years <1912 – 1920>during the height of the women’s suffrage movement until the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote. Lillian was an active member of the Republic Party, holding the title of vice-chairmen of the Republican State Committee at one point. In 1928, she ran for U.S. Senate but did not win.
    • Clara Schlee Laddey emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1888 and became immediately involved in the women’s suffrage movement. She acted as president of the NJWSA between 1908 through 1912. Clara was especially passionate about advancing women’s ability to join school boards. Clara was the NJ delegate chosen to march in the first ever suffrage parade held in New York City.
    • Allison Turnbull Hopkins was born in 1880 and lived most of her life in Moorestown, NJ. Allison was a suffragette set on making changes at the national level and in 1915, became chair of the Congressional Union for Women’s Suffrage.
    • Harriet Frances Carpenter, known for her court case Carpenter vs. Cornish, was a teacher and author from Millington, N.J. Like Lucy Stone, Harriet felt strongly against taxation without representation. are other Black female suffragettes from New Jersey. Although not as much has been documented about the role women of color played in the suffrage movement, there were many important public Black female leaders including Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Mary Talbert, and Nannie Burroughs who fought for social justice in their communities and especially advocated for women.

    Local Commemorations

    For more on the women’s suffrage movement in New Jersey and beyond, consider checking out the local events below!

    • – NJPAC will be hosting a virtual event titled Pioneers of Protest – Celebrating 100 Years of Women’s Voting on August 17th, at 7:00PM
    • – Newark Public Library is presenting a special exhibition, Radical Women: Fighting For Power And The Vote In NJ , until August 31st.
    • – The New Jersey Division of Women and Thomas Edison State University are co-hosting a virtual NJ Women Vote’s Equality Day celebration featuring panel discussions, performances, and more. The event will take place from 10:00AM-12:00PM on August 26th.Register here .
    • – The Mile Square Theater Launches “Community Resilience” Program. The introductory panel discussion will be a special event celebrating the centennial of Women’s Suffrage in the U.S and will be held on August 26th from 7PM to 8PM. The panelists are Noelle Lorraine Williams, Ekow Yankah, and Annette Chaparro with Thaler Pekar moderating. To register for this free event, click here.

    For the month of August, the NJ Women Vote organization invites people to partake in the “ Suffrage Solo Slow Roll” campaign, encouraging New Jersey residents to walk and experience the New Jersey Women’s Heritage Trail . Register here .


    The campaign finance of women’s suffrage

    3rd May 1913: Grand Marshal Inez Milholland Boissevain (1886 - 1916) leads a parade of 30,000 representives of the various Women's Suffrage associations through New York City. (Photo by Paul Thompson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

    This story originally appeared on Marketplace. You can listen to Marketplace live on WHYY 90.9 FM Monday through Friday at 6:30 p.m.

    On June 4th, 1919, Congress passed the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing all women the right to vote. It would be another year, in August of 1920, before enough states ratified the amendment for it to become law.

    Women’s suffrage took more than seven decades of political struggle and included marches, hunger strikes, and arrests. And, like political campaigns of today, it required a lot of money. While women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were on the front lines of the movement, there were other women working behind the scenes to fund it.

    “We don’t tend to teach about the suffrage movement as a major lobbying force, a major well-funded organization in American political history — but it was,” said Corrine McConnaughy, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, and author of “The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment.”

    “You’re talking money on the order of what the major political parties had to spend,” said McConnaughy. “This is this is not just a few ladies sitting around signing petitions.”

    Groups like the National Woman’s Party kept careful records of donations that came in from all over the country. Joan Marie Johnson, author of “Funding Feminism: Monied Women, Philanthropy, and the Women’s Movement, 1870-1967,” found records including “a typewritten 200-page list of all of the donors who gave to the organization between 1930 and 1920 and they’re recording gifts from 25 cents a dollar all the way up to Mrs. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont’s $76,000 that she gave over the course of that time.”

    There were a number of wealthy women who Johnson said “clearly had outsized power through their financial contributions. And in some respects that caused tensions within the movement.”

    The financial break for the suffragists came in 1914, when wealthy widow Mrs. Miriam (Frank) Leslie left her estate — worth more than a million dollars even then — to the movement. With the million or so that remained after legal challenges from the family, the suffragists did what interest groups in Washington do to this day: They hired a bunch of lobbyists.

    These women descended on Capitol Hill to persuade members of Congress to support the 19th Amendment, building a lobbying operation from scratch.

    “They began keeping note cards on all of the congressmen, and they would go in to see the senators and keep notes and give each other advice,” said Johnson. “Things like ‘Don’t go see a senator right before lunch — he’s too hungry and he’s not going to pay attention to you,’ but also ‘Don’t close the door when you’re in the office of a senator alone.’”

    Suffragists also used the money to publish their own newspapers, cartoons, and silent films — an effort to counter the anti-suffrage messages in some mainstream press, and in popular culture.

    “They are running their own propaganda machine,” said McConnaughy. “And in some sense [they] have an understanding that being seen as too politically savvy, or too politically sophisticated, or too much embedded in partisan politics might be bad for the cause.”

    But not all were represented in these grand strategies. Sarah Bryner, research director at the Center for Responsive Politics, points out that the wealthy, white women who bankrolled the movement also shaped who was included in the outcome.

    “So the wives of wealthy railroad tycoons and people who had access to power were the ones negotiating the discussions about who would be able to have access to power in a post suffrage world.

    There were many black women active in the suffrage movement, and there are records of Madame C.J. Walker, who made her fortune in hair care, hosting meetings for black suffragists in her home in Indiana.

    “She not only knew people who were suffragists and who were participating, she also was supporting it,” said A’Leila Bundles, Walker’s descendant and biographer.

    Madam CJ Walker hosted black suffragists at her home in Indiana. (Courtesy of Marketplace)

    But the history of the suffrage movement is rife with racism, from demands black women march in the back of a 1913 parade rather than with their state delegations, to Susan B. Anthony stating she “will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.”

    And while they eventually gained enfranchisement for themselves, many of the woman leading and financing the suffrage movement didn’t push to end exclusionary practices like poll taxes or literacy tests, which continued to restrict voting for black and poor women for decades to come.


    8 Things You Probably Don't Know About Women’s Suffrage

    On February 6, 1918, some women in Britain were given the right to vote for the first time.

    It included women over the age of 30 who had property or were married to a man who did, and amounted to around 8 million women in the UK.

    It took another 10 years for women to have the same voting terms as men — who were allowed to vote from the age of 21 — under the Representation of the People Act.

    Nevertheless, the success of women's suffrage is down to some seriously strong and independent women — and some pretty great male feminists too.

    Here are some of our favourite lesser known facts about the suffrage movement.

    1. There’s a difference between a suffragist and a suffragette

    Until Feb. 22, 1906, all suffrage campaigners were known as “suffragists.”

    That was, until the Daily Mail first used the word “suffragette,” to describe how Annie Kenney, an early member for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), interrupted a political meeting in the City of London.

    The “ette” ending was supposed to belittle Kenney and her fellow WSPU members. But instead, they proudly adopted the name.

    Women's suffrage campaigner Emmeline Pankhurst addresses a crowd in London's Trafalgar Square, in 1908.
    Image: Flickr/BBCRadio4

    The term “suffragette” refers to the more militant campaigners, who were ready to break the law in support of the movement. They are the better remembered today, as they set fire to churches and libraries, placed bombs in public places, and also went to prison.

    Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst were the main leaders of the WSPU, whose motto was “Deeds not words.” Members of the Women’s Freedom League (WFL) — which was formed by WSPU membered in 1907 — also had a more “suffragette” attitude.

    The “suffragists” however, worked within the law. They lobbied politicians, working with sympathetic MPs to get a women’s suffrage bill passed through parliament and ensure that at least some women were included in the Representation of the People Act 1918.

    Millicent Fawcett was the suffragist leader whose work is commemorated by the Fawcett Society, which still campaigns for women’s rights today.

    Ultimately, however, the suffragettes and the suffragists needed each other to be successful.

    The suffragettes grabbed the headlines and raised awareness of their cause, but the suffragists were the ones who worked with government to get the bill passed.

    2. It didn't just involve the middle-class

    The suffrage movement wasn’t just the realm of the privileged — it also included working-class women.

    Suffrage campaigners were only pushing for women of property to be given the vote, as they were campaigning for a vote on the same terms as it was given to men — which included the ownership or occupation of property.

    But they believed that if they could get the vote, they could then influence parliament to make conditions better for all women.

    And it was because of that that many working-class women still lent their voices to the campaign, even though it was an essentially middle-class campaign.

    In 1912, Emmeline Pankhurst’s second daughter Sylvia broke away from the WSPU to form to East London Federation of Suffragettes, in the hope of rallying the working-class women of London’s east end against the government.

    Around the same time, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), began building up its working-class support, encouraging working women to join its new organisation, the Friends of Women’s Suffrage.

    3. Nor did it just involve white women

    At the time of the suffrage campaign, census records only documented a person’s place of birth.

    That means that, because so many white British men and women are also born in Africa, India, and the West Indies, it makes it very difficult to discover the ethnic origin of a person in historical records.

    For that reason, many black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) activists who supported the suffrage movement are now hidden from history, according to the Fawcett Society.

    Sarah Parker Remond, born in Massachusetts in 1826, was an African-American anti-slavery campaigner who spoke to huge crowds all over Britain. She also qualified as a Doctor of Medicine in 1871 from one of Europe’s most prestigious medical schools in Florence, Italy. pic.twitter.com/oQwvTADoUp

    — Hannah Nagle (@HanNagle) January 30, 2018

    There is, however, evidence that shows BAME people were very active within the movement. A photograph, for example, shows Princess Sophia Duleep Singh — an active member of the WSPU — selling “The Suffragette” newspaper outside Hampton Court in April 1913. Another shows P.L. Roy, the wife of the director of public prosecutions in Kolkata, and her daughter Leila Mukerjea, who are believed to have been members of the WFL.

    A group of women's suffrage campaigners in London, 1911.
    Image: Flickr/RV1864

    Another prominent woman of colour, who was one of the leading voices early in the campaign, was Sarah Parker Remond. She was an African-American who lectured on anti-slavery and women’s rights, and was also a campaigner against slavery in both the US and the UK.

    She was the only woman of colour to sign John Stuart Mill’s 1866 petition to the British parliament on women’s suffrage.

    4. Or even just women

    Given that women faced serious restrictions on the parts that they could play in public life, the cooperation and support of male public figures was important to the movement, according to the Fawcett Society.

    The first petition on women’s suffrage that was presented to parliament, was presented by John Stuart Mill MP, and many other MPs presented women’s suffrage bills in parliament over the years of the campaign.

    Suffrage speakers who toured around the country rallying members relied on sympathetic businessmen and clergymen to give them spaces for public meetings — and often to chair them, as in the earlier years of the campaign it wasn’t considered respectable for women to speak in public.

    In 1907, the Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage was launched in London, and in 1910, a similar organisation was set up in the US.

    And in 1913, Keir Hardie MP — who regularly raised questions in support of women’s suffrage in the House of Commons — was arrested at a rally after he spoke out in support of a series of arson attacks by campaigners.

    One of the leading male activists, however, was Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, who was one of the main financial backers of the WSPU for many years in the 20th century. Men weren’t allowed to be members, but he and his wife Emmeline were joint editors of the WSPU’s journal “Votes for Women.”

    He was also a key supporter for the WSPU in legal matters, and represented the group in trials — because women weren’t allowed to do so.

    And, Pethick-Lawrence was force-fed, like many female activists, when they went on hunger strike.

    5. Force-feeding was brutal

    Imprisoned suffragettes found hunger strikes to be a powerful tool to protest their arrest.

    But the authorities responded by forcing them to eat, and there are dozens of descriptions of the “invasive, demeaning, and dangerous” procedure which, in some cases, damaged the long-term health of the victims, according to historian Dr Jacqui Turner, from the University of Reading.

    Force-feeding generally involved forcing a tube up the suffragette’s nose and down her throat, so that food could be pumped directly into her stomach.

    #BOTD 1891 suffragette - Lilian Lenton
    Feb 1913 Lilian was arrested for having set fire to the Tea House at Kew Gardens. She was sent to Holloway Jail where she embarked on a hunger strike which led to her being forcibly fed becoming seriously ill. https://t.co/RUWS33kvUcpic.twitter.com/d2WuJFESA3

    — SuffragetteLife (@SuffragetteLife) January 5, 2018

    Professor June Purvis, from the University of Portsmouth, who has written extensively on the suffrage movement, described how forced feeding was humiliating, “especially so far women, such as Fanny Parker, fed through the rectum and vagina.”

    “The knowledge that new tubes were not always available and that used tubes may have been previously inflicted on diseased people undoubtedly added to the feelings of abuse, dirtiness, and indecency that the women felt,” she added.

    6. Black Friday

    On Nov. 18, 1910 — which came to be known as the Black Friday of British suffrage — campaigners from the WSPU clashed with police.

    The protests were in response to the Conciliation Bill’s journey through parliament, which came to a sudden halt. Despite making it to a second reading, then Prime Minister Herbert Asquith said there would be no more time for the reading in the current parliamentary session.

    In response, a group of 300 suffragettes protested outside parliament — but they came up against brutality and violence both from a wall of policemen and from male vigilantes.

    #Suffragette Ada Wright, 18 Nov 1910 ("Black Friday") was assaulted by police at a Women's Suffrage demonstration in Parliament Square. Her image was carried on the front page of the Daily Mirror which apparently the govt. sought to stop publication & destruction of photos. pic.twitter.com/Q7RpmjYpMW

    — David (@liminalhackney) February 4, 2018

    Many women were injured, and two died, according to the BBC, with more than 100 male and female protesters arrested. It was also a disaster for the government, after the press took the side of the suffragettes, printing photographs of police assaulting unarmed women.

    “A lot said they had been groped by the police and male bystanders,” Elizabeth Crawford, author of "The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide", told the BBC. “After that, women didn’t go to these demonstrations unprepared.”

    7. The Suffragettes had a bodyguard unit, trained in jiu-jitsu

    Known as “the Amazons” by the media, the suffragette bodyguard unit was made up of 30 working-class women who undertook “dangerous duties.”

    When imprisoned suffragettes went on hunger strike, they could be released from jail to recover before then being rearrested on the original charge — under the so-called Cat and Mouse Act 1913.

    That was why the bodyguard unit was born — to protect the released suffragettes from being rearrested and sent back to jail.

    Edith Garrud teaching Suffragettes how to handle them pic.twitter.com/2TGfl6sNOb

    — semiotext(e) 93 (@bacon_aphorism) February 2, 2018

    They mainly used jiu-jitsu, and clubs which they hid in their dresses. In fact, jiu-jitsu was becoming quite a fashion among women’s rights activists, with women even holding jiu-jitsu parties where they trained together.

    And the most prolific teacher, who was responsible for training “the Amazons,” was Edith Garrud, a woman who was just 4ft 11in tall, but who was among the first female professional martial arts instructors in the western world.

    There’s also a trilogy of graphic novels about the bodyguard unit, called “Suffrajitsu.” Author of the trilogy, Tony Wolf, said that at the beginning, it “was more about defending themselves against angry hecklers in the audience who got on stage, rather than police. There had been several attempted assaults.”

    Garrud said in a 1965 interview that a policeman once tried to prevent her from protesting outside parliament.

    “Now then, move on, you can’t start causing an obstruction here,” she remembered him saying. “Excuse me, it is you who are making an obstruction,” she replied, before throwing him over her shoulder.

    8. It was international

    Feminists around the world united in their rallying cry for women to get the vote. In 1904, Millicent Fawcett was among the suffragists from around the world who founded the International Women’s Suffrage Alliance, to unite their efforts.

    The IWSA — which had its headquarters in London for many years — held conferences every four years, for campaigners to meet up and swap ideas. And it still exists, now known as the International Alliance of Women.

    By 1918, several countries had already given at least some women the right to vote. New Zealand was the first, in 1893, followed by Australia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Canada. In 1918, Austria, Germany, Poland, and Russia joined the ranks.

    Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN's Global Goals, which include action on gender equality. You can take action with us here to support the #LeveltheLaw campaign, which aims to eliminate laws around the world that discriminate against women.


    7 Things You Might Not Know About the Women’s Suffrage Movement - HISTORY

    The word isn’t related to ‘suffering’

    The origin of “suffrage” is not suffering, although plenty of people suffered in the pursuit of suffrage. It derives from the Latin suffragium, meaning a vote or a right to vote. It can also mean a prayer of intercession, certainly an apt description given the many groups of people who have prayed for the right to vote.

    Read more: Women’s suffrage changed American democracy. But the 19th Amendment’s work remains unfinished.

    A slight in London sparked a U.S. movement

    The first Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1848, shaped the movement for decades. The event was the brainchild of abolitionists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, who were furious after being barred from an 1840 anti-slavery convention in London because of their gender.

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the first president of the National Woman Suffrage Association. (AP)

    Abolitionists and suffragists were intertwined

    The women’s rights movement sprang from the abolitionist movement before the Civil War, but the relationship was often uneasy. Some felt women should be able to vote before Black men, or vice versa. Others insisted everyone get the vote simultaneously. And some wanted to bar African Americans from the women’s movement, fearing their involvement would turn Southern legislators against the cause.

    Asset for SUFFRAGEFACTS (Bárbara Malagoli For The Washington Post)

    “If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back. … And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

    Abolitionist minister Sojourner Truth, at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio

    Lonely guys in Wyoming deserved a hat tip

    Wyoming was the first territory or state to act after the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention to pass a women’s suffrage law, on Dec. 10, 1869. Some men truly wanted voting access for their wives and moms, but many legislators had other motivations, including the hope that the new right would attract more single women to that frontier, where men outnumbered women 6 to 1.

    Read more: More than a century before the 19th Amendment, women were voting in New Jersey because of a strange loophole in New Jersey’s state constitution

    An illustration of women voting for the first time in Cheyenne, in Wyoming territory, in 1869. Wyoming was the first state or territory after the 1848 Women's Rights Convention to pass a law allowing women to vote. (AP)

    Julia Ward Howe’s eyes saw the glory but not the vote

    Author and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe not only founded several major women’s organizations and suffrage groups, but, during the Civil War, she also wrote the lyrics that became the activist anthem “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

    Susan B. Anthony was arrested for voting

    At a time when women were mocked for speaking in public, Susan B. Anthony was a leading voice in the fight for equality in labor practices and pay. After voting in Rochester, N.Y., in 1872, she was arrested, convicted of voting illegally and fined, and the publicity attracted many people to her cause. She did not live long enough to cast a legal vote.

    Asset for SUFFRAGEFACTS (Bárbara Malagoli For The Washington Post)

    “All that we require of a voter is that he shall be forked, wear pantaloons instead of petticoats, and bear a more or less humorous resemblance to the reported image of God. He need not know anything whatever. . We brag of our universal, unrestricted suffrage but we are shams after all, for we restrict when we come to the women.”

    Mark Twain in an 1875 paper on “Universal Suffrage” read before the Monday Evening Club in Hartford, Conn.

    Catherine Flanagan, left, and Gertrude Crocker are arrested in August 1917 as they protest outside the White House. Crocker holds a banner that reads, "How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty?" Women demonstrated at the White House for months to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to support a 19th Amendment. (Library of Congress)

    The Supreme Court ruled against letting women vote

    Women’s activist Virginia Louise Minor tried to register to vote in St. Louis in 1872 and was rejected. She and her husband sued, and the case rose to the Supreme Court. The nine male justices declined to interpret the 14th Amendment’s “all persons” clause to include women, forcing suffragists to refocus on changing the Constitution.

    Men feared ‘petticoat rule’

    According to a 1900s anti-suffrage pamphlet aimed at women, they shouldn’t get the vote because:

    … 90 percent “do not want it, or do not care.”

    … they would be competing with men instead of cooperating.

    … “more voting women than voting men will place the Government under petticoat rule.”

    … “it is unwise to risk the good we already have for the evil which may occur.”

    The National Anti-Suffrage Association opposed the 19th Amendment. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress)

    Ida B. Wells organized women of color

    Death threats drove journalist Ida B. Wells from Memphis after she wrote a 1892 lynching exposé. She moved to Chicago, where she urged women of color to get involved in politics, and she led a group at the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade in D.C. Told by organizers to go to the back or leave, she emerged from the crowd halfway through the march and joined the Illinois delegation at the front.

    A portrait published in 1891 shows journalist Ida B. Wells, who advocated for women of color to become involved in politics and marched in a 1913 parade to support women's suffrage. (Library of Congress)

    ‘Silent Sentinels’ picketed the White House for 18 months

    Led by Alice Paul, who had helped organize the D.C. march, more than 1,000 women in January 1917 began daily demonstrations at the White House gates, despite verbal and physical attacks from spectators. At one point, Paul was arrested, jailed and charged with obstructing traffic, and her hunger strike galvanized public support for women’s suffrage.

    Read more: Women embraced William Henry Harrison’s presidential campaign in 1840, scandalizing men

    Asset for SUFFRAGEFACTS (Bárbara Malagoli For The Washington Post)

    “I am not one of those who believe – broadly speaking – that women are better than men. We have not wrecked railroads, nor corrupted legislatures, nor done many unholy things that men have done but then we must remember that we have not had the chance.”

    Jane Addams in a speech before the Chicago Political Equality League in 1897

    Alice Paul, seated second from left, sews the 36th star on a banner in August 1920 to celebrate Tennesse's vote as the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. (AP)

    7 Things You Might Not Know About the Women’s Suffrage Movement - HISTORY

    As the United States spread west of the Mississippi River, those who followed their dreams of a better life often included complete families: father, mother, and children taking whatever fit in the wagon or hand cart to a new opportunity across the Rocky Mountains through an opening called South Pass in what is now known as the state of Wyoming. This discovery gave those willing to risk what was familiar for the chance to expand their horizons in a new location with possibly better soil, better climate, or to explore what their own future could be away from the crowded cities they left behind. What a promising idea: expand your horizons.

    The features of each new territory became known quickly. These territories grew in population large enough for statehood, meaning the form of government established by the U.S. Constitution could now be organized on local state, county, and city levels. The decision to include women in the governing decisions in these new territories and states caught the attention of those attempting to gain voting rights for women nationally through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Suffrage organizers visited newly enfranchised women’s groups to help to make the right to vote universal nationally.

    This unit will discuss the role of Westward Expansion with the country borders now from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean how Overland Trails, and the transcontinental railroad paved the way for women’s suffrage in the newly created territory and state governments. This unit also helps students use primary documents related to efforts to extend the newly acquired voting rights, any disenfranchisement by federal legislation or an individual state, and the regaining of voting rights already experienced through a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote universally throughout the United States. This unit will also acknowledge those persons who were not included when the nineteenth amendment was finally ratified.

    The Language Arts portion of the Common Core as well as the Reading Standards for Social Studies guidelines will form the instructional basis of this unit plan. Specifically, there is an emphasis on vocabulary skills, literacy in geography through map activities, drawing comparisons, and the use of primary and secondary documents for discussion with peers. Class discussions of video presentations will assist students in building a timeline from the 1800’s to 1920 when the constitutional amendment became law. A readers’ theater activity is also planned to increase student participation. Students will be expected to write short descriptions of the primary document exercise or video presentation at the end of the class session. A short review will prepare students for a formative assessment of the unit contents. This assessment will allow students to use visual art skills or established essay principles to demonstrate mastery of their chosen unit main idea.

    The grade 7 format of this unit plan can be adapted for use with U.S. History I, U.S. History II, and U.S. Government and Citizenship course standards established by state and local school boards or charter schools. The reader’s theatre activity has a simpler version website link to give students with limited reading ability a chance to participate without the embarrassment of trying to pronounce complicated words in a public setting.

    Course Description:

    A unit designed to expand student horizons as they analyze maps and primary documents and share stories of the Westward Expansion relating to gaining women’s suffrage through ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    Each lesson of The Path to Women’s Suffrage unit is designed for a 55 minute lesson.


    Book/Printed Material "The Blue book" : woman suffrage, history, arguments and results Woman suffrage, history, arguments and results

    The Library of Congress is not aware of any copyright restrictions in the National Women Suffrage Association Collection. Researchers should watch for modern documents (for example, foreign works and works published in the United States less than 95 years ago, or unpublished if the author died less than 70 years ago) that may be copyrighted.

    Responsibility for determining the legal status of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item.

    For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.

    Credit Line: Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection.