This August is the 95th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote in all state and federal elections when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920.
Women’s suffrage in America was a divisive issue from the very beginning of the organized movement at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Over the ensuing 72 years, while women gradually won the right to vote in some state and local elections, they continued to fight for full suffrage. Eventually, the suffragists of the 19th century gave way to the “suffragettes” of the 20th century, with their more confrontational tactics, influenced by the militant women’s suffrage movement in Britain.
Though what would become the 19th Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1878, it took 41 years—and multiple rejections—for it to finally pass. After it was approved by Congress in 1919, it was sent to the states for ratification, where it would need to be approved by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. Though women’s suffrage had always faced the biggest obstacles in southern states, Tennessee was the deciding 36th state to ratify the amendment by a slim margin on August 18, 1920.
As expected from such a controversial issue, the newspapers of the time were full of articles debating the suffrage question. On Newspapers.com you can follow both sides of the debate from its beginnings in the mid-19th century up through the day women’s right to vote became protected by the Constitution.
Examples of the articles and other features you can find about women’s suffrage include:
- Letters from early women’s rights leaders to a women’s convention in 1850
- An excerpt from a 1859 editorial deeming women “not fit to vote”
- An excerpt from a 1867 anti-suffrage editorial arguing a woman’s place is at home
- An early (1867) piece by Mark Twain ostensibly against women’s suffrage (though he would later change his stance on the issue)
- An interview with Susan B. Anthony in 1899
- A 1902 history of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s involvement in the women’s suffrage movement
- A 1909 interview with a prominent member of the anti-suffrage movement
- A 1920 article announcing the ratification of the 19th Amendment in Tennessee
- A 1920 pro-suffrage editorial cartoon following the passage of the 19th Amendment
- A 1920 photo of suffrage leader Alice Paul toasting the passage of the 19th Amendment
Did you have any ancestors involved in the women’s suffrage movement? Tell us about it! Or if you want to learn more about the movement, simply start a search on Newspapers.com.
14 thoughts on “Find: Women Get the Vote”
My great great grandmother, Helen Ekin Starrett, was one of two women who attended Susan B Anthony’s first National Suffrage Convention in DC in 1878 and the Victory Convention in 1920 and the only original delegate who lived to see the amendment ratified in 1920. When Susan B Anthony decided to campaign for a Constitutional Amendment, the groundwork was laid in my great great grandparents’ house in Lawrence, Kansas. Thanks to newspapers.com, I was able to verify the family stories and legends! I’ve written about her on my blog at http://www.itsabeautifultree.com.
There’s a clipping— I believe it’s from the New York Post— about the Victory Convention, and my great great grandmother is prominently featured. Amazing!!!!
That is so awesome! What a legacy! Thanks for sharing!
Wow….awesome story. Congrats on that research find!
I think your embellishing! Or in other words full of sh*t. Prove it!
JK. I was being sarcastic.
This is the article I found on newspapers.com!
New York Tribune.
After suffrage was won in 1920, my aunt remembers the League of Women Voters coming out in horse and buggy to visit my grandmother Alma Wilson McDowell in rural Tipton, IN to urge her to vote. My aunt Gertrude McDowell (Taylor) remembers being a small child when this occurred and noted that her mother, who had two small girls and another on the way, said she would leave the voting to the men. My aunt remembers thinking, well when I am old enough, I will vote! She was true to her word and when she turned 21, she registered and voted, plus finally got her mother to register and vote. I think they may have cast their first votes for FDR. Me? I have never missed voting and I will vote for Hillary Clinton, hopefully the first U.S. woman president!
According to The Holy Bible, GOD is no respecter of persons and shows no partiality and encourages us to do the same… EQUAL CIVIL RIGHTS FOR ALL CIVIL CITIZENS… EQUAL PAY FOR SIMILAR WORK DUTIES.
Live out loud!
Thanks for charging
In August of 1970 there was a women’s lib March in Washington D.C. that I marched in. There were several original suffragette women there congratulating us for our participation.
My dear friend, Josephine Fell, related to Margaret Fell, walked in that march. She was very proud of that. She was a wonderful feminist and dear person, now deceased. How I miss you, Jo!
Thank you, Julie Phelps, for this post,
which gave me goosebumps. Perhaps it is because
Susan B. Anthony was my great grandmother’s cousin, and I am named after her.
Your great great grandmother, Helen Ekin Starrett, must have been one courageous person, to have been one of only two women to attend the first National Suffrage Convention in 1878 and the Victory Convention in 1920.
Thank you for the inspiring story, which will lead me to find out more about these 19th century efforts to secure a right which many of us take for granted now.
Here is a bit from an article on Susan B. Anthony, by my grandfather, Howard C. Mason.
(from the book “Backward Glances, Volume II”, – a collection from columns he originally wrote for the Glens Falls Daily newspapers.
1964: Webster Mimeoprint Services, Glens Falls, NY.)
“When I was a child in the early 1890’s, Susan B. Anthony visited my parents at the farm home on Sanfords Ridge on two different occasions and the impression that I got, as a child, was that she was doing something that wasn’t just right; at least when her name was mentioned among my elders, there would be queer expressions or raised eyebrows.
One hundred years ago women were not only denied the ballot, they could not even own property or hold office. They had no legal jurisdiction over their own children and they were restricted to very few fields of employment. In the light of all this it is difficult for us today to understand that many of Susan’s bitterest opponents were women. . .
Here was a woman who almost single-handed and alone, for nearly 50 years, fought for these and other rights for women, certainly with no thought of monetary reward. She lectured almost constantly from early womanhood until a few months before her death at the age of 86. She traveled from coast to coast in the United States and also made trips to Europe. She spoke more times from the lecture platform than any other woman who ever lived. She braved ridicule, slander, abuse, even arrest for what she believed to be right.”
Praise God that your great great grandmother Helen Ekin Starrett actually lived to see the 19th Amendment ratified in 1920! Thanks again for your inspiring story!
Awesome stories and I am honored to have read great history about your grandmother. You just gave me my inspiration and energy back to research my family again. I had stopped for awhile but I get overjoyed in learning about history period. I am mostly humbled by talking to people from all walks of life. When you listen to the older generations talk about their childhood and experiences, you gain wisdom which is priceless. Keep telling your history for the younger generations!
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