Women's Suffrage and the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

Topic Women’s Suffrage and the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment
Time Period 1848-1920
Keyword(s) Women’s Suffrage, Voting Rights, Progressive Era, Political Reform, Women’s Rights, Constitutional Amendments
Grade level(s) 6-12
Learning standard(s) (H.S. American Government) TOPIC: Civic Participation and Skills; (Grade 8 Social Studies) History Strand 14, Government Strand 20, 21

Elizabeth Cady Stanton–one of the Seneca Falls convention leaders–reminisced, “We were but a handful…” recalling the supporters of woman suffrage at the convention, where the right to vote was their most radical demand. Between this first convention advocating the rights of women and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote in 1920 lay a long and arduous journey. Victory was never assured until the final moments. In the intervening years, the drive for women’s voting rights encompassed the lives of several generations of women. Suffrage supporters survived a series of dramatic transformations in their movement that included: fifty years of educating the public to establish the legitimacy of woman suffrage; approximately twenty years of direct lobbying as well as dramatic militant action to press their claim to the vote; the division of each generation into moderate and radical camps; and the creation of a distinct female political culture and imagery to promote “votes for women.” (courtesy Crusade for the Vote, National Women’s History Museum)

Suffragettes and Their Homes Depicted

Women's Suffrage Preview

Women's Suffrage

A composite portrait of Susan B. Anthony and Louisa May Alcott created by Cleveland artist, Milan Kecman in 2016.

1913, Florence Allen Marching for Women's Suffrage Preview

1913, Florence Allen Marching for Women's Suffrage

Florence Allen participating in a march for women’s right to vote. Florence was heavily involved in the women’s suffrage movement after she received her undergraduate degree from Western Reserve University. She participated in both the Ohio and New York women’s suffrage groups and attended many of their meetings and rallies. In 1913, Florence and her law school friend, Bertha “Bert” Miller, took part in the “Votes for Women” pilgrimage. Demonstrators, led by Jeanette Rankin of Missoula, Montana, marched from New York City to Washington D.C..

Hannah Bishop House Preview

Hannah Bishop House

The Hannah Bishop House is depicted here in its original location on the northwest corner of High Street and West Granville Road. The lot and building were originally owned by Philander Chase. The oldest portion of the structure dates to ca. 1817-1818. It was the home of the Bishop family throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth century. Keary J. Mabra, an African American, operated a barbershop at this location throughout the 1920’s and 30’s. His wife, Maude, was the cook at the Old Worthington Hotel. She was the first woman to vote in Worthington when women got suffrage in 1920. The building was moved to its present location at 782 Hartford Street in 1921 and has been restored.

Edgemont Inn - Harriet Beecher Stowe House Preview

Edgemont Inn - Harriet Beecher Stowe House

Reverse reads “Edgemont Inn, Cincinnati, Ohio.” Located at 2950 Gilbert Avenue, at the corner of Foraker Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Edgemont Inn, formerly the Old Home Seminary, is now known as the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. The two story, gray painted brick home with wooden front porch was home to Harriet Beecher Stowe prior to her marriage, and to her father, Rev. Dr. Lyman Beecher, and his large family, a prolific group of religious leaders, educators, writers, and antislavery and women’s rights advocates. The Beecher family includes Harriet’s sister Catherine, an early female educator and writer who helped found numerous high schools and colleges for women; brother Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, a leader of the women’s suffrage movement and considered by some to be the most eloquent minister of his time; General James Beecher, a Civil War general who commanded the first African American troops in the Union Army recruited from the South; and sister Isabella Beecher Hooker, a women’s rights advocate.

Men signing a petition supporting women's suffrage Preview

Men signing a petition supporting women's suffrage

Propaganda for the Movement

Minnesota women's suffrage movement banner Preview

Minnesota women's suffrage movement banner

A women’s suffrage banner with a compelling tagline, circa 1910 to 1930.

Woman with political campaign flag Preview

Woman with political campaign flag

This is a portrait of a well-dressed young woman sitting in front of an American flag which bears the images of President William McKinley and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. Handwriting on the negative appears to identify the woman as Miss Rachel Riddle. This photograph was taken by traveling photographer Albert J. Ewing, ca. 1896-1912. Like most of Ewing’s work, it was likely taken in southeastern Ohio or central West Virginia. Born in 1870 in Washington County, Ohio, near Marietta, Ewing most likely began his photography career in the 1890s.

1920, Business Women's Club of Cleveland Campaign Signage in Support of Florence Allen Preview

1920, Business Women's Club of Cleveland Campaign Signage in Support of Florence Allen

Handwritten by Florence Allen on the back of the photo: “at 2728 Euclid Ave -The B.W.C. (Business Women’s Club) did this of their own notion – has 1600 members.” On Aug. 24, 1920, the state of Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. Allen’s friends in the Woman Suffrage Party encouraged her to seek election to a judgeship on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas. Since the primaries had already been held, the only way to place her name on the ballot was to gather the required number of signatures on a petition. In two days, party members gathered 2,000 signatures, and her name was placed on the ballot. Supported by the major Cleveland newspapers, community leaders and several unions, she was elected on Nov. 2, 1920, the first election women could vote except on local matters. Allen became the first woman elected to a judicial office in the United States. 

Men's League for Women's Suffrage Preview

Men's League for Women's Suffrage

Photograph showing men carrying a banner in a parade, dated to 1915. This image comes from the Bryn Mawr College Library in New York.

Letters and Documents

Answers regarding women's suffrage Preview

Answers regarding women's suffrage

This circular letter, dated Feb. 20, 1883 includes a list of “plain questions” possibly submitted by women to the legislators who “represent (?)” them and the answers received. The questions appear to have originated on an anonymous circular, thus the reason for the answers to be presented in the same manner. Also on the circular letter is an editorial written to the Editor of the Herald by Lucy Stone on suffrage and mormonism, focusing largely on the practice of polygamy.

Toledo Women's Suffrage Association, Report, January 19, 1894 Preview

Toledo Women's Suffrage Association, Report, January 19, 1894

A report of the Toledo Women’s Suffrage Association read at the celebration of its 25th anniversary, January 19, 1894. This report gives a brief synopsis of the work, events and growth of the Toledo association devoted to women’s rights and suffrage.

Susan B. Anthony letter to Mrs. Bissell, May 25, 1909 Preview

Susan B. Anthony letter to Mrs. Bissell, May 25, 1909

A letter written by Susan B. Anthony to Ms. Sara A. Bissell, a member and president of the Toledo Women’s Suffrage Association, in which she writes about the hope of the future based on the gains for women’s rights of the recent past.

The names and residences of all the persons registered in the city of Cincinnati for the election to be held November 1920. Part 1 Preview

The names and residences of all the persons registered in the city of Cincinnati for the election to be held November 1920. Part 1

“The following is a complete list of all persons who received from the Board an order to register.” This is the first set of election rolls for the city of Cincinnati that includes registered women voters.

Women’s Opposition to the Suffrage Movement

Woman's profession as mother and educator : with views in opposition to woman suffrage Preview

Woman's profession as mother and educator : with views in opposition to woman suffrage

A book written by Catharine Esther Beecher (1800-1878) of unpublished speeches given “to meetings of ladies only.” While Beecher’s family featured several prominent proponents of women’s suffrage, Catharine herself was opposed to this movement.

Women's Opposition To Suffrage Preview

Women's Opposition To Suffrage

This article discusses why women should not have equal suffrage, and argues that the majority of women didn’t ask for suffrage, or most of the other social improvements, written by Alice Stone Blackwell in 1894.

Additional Resources

Smithsonian, National Portrait Gallery, Women’s Suffrage

A digital exhibit of portraits of suffragettes from the National Portrait Gallery. Each image has a brief biographical description discussing the achievements of the subject.

Library of Congress Women’s Suffrage Primary Resource Set

A primary resource set developed by the Library of Congress, similar to this resource. This resource includes a teacher’s guide, analysis tools, and links to a number of different types of resources from the Library of Congress’ collections.

National Archives, Women’s Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

A primary resource set developed by the National Archives, similar to this resource. The resource includes a number of different types of resources from the National Archives’ collections.

Susan B. Anthony Center at the University of Rochester

This resource includes biographical information on influential suffragists, a timeline of the suffrage movement to the present, and information on the Seneca Falls Convention.

National Park Service, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

This resource created by the National Park Service provides a biographical look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton with links to her writing and speeches.

Alice Paul and the Equal Rights Amendment

The Alice Paul Institute in Mount Laurel, New Jersey provides a history of the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, and biographical information on Alice Paul.

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt Girlhood Home and Museum

The museum dedicated to the home of Carrie Lane Chapman Catt provides biographical information on this suffragette, and other historical information on the history of the women’s suffrage movement.

Ohio History Central, Lucy Stone

This article provided by the Ohio History Connection provides biographical information on the suffragette Lucy Stone, who graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio.

National Women’s History Museum, Ida B. Wells-Barnett

This article provided by the National Women’s History Museum provides biographical information on the suffragette Ida B. Wells-Barnett who was influential in the promoting the civil rights of both women and African Americans.

Crusade for the Vote

The National Women’s History Museum provides a number of resources detailing the history of the suffrage movement through timelines, educational resources, and primary sources.

Teaching guide

Discussion Questions (Download)

  1. How are women still underrepresented in American politics today?
  2. How did opponents to women’s suffrage state their opposition? How was it answered?
  3. Where did the 1913 “Votes for Women” pilgrimage begin and end?
  4. Did women participate in the political process before they could vote? If so, how?
  5. Was the right to vote universally embraced by women?
  6. What judges in your county are female? What judges in Ohio are female?

Classroom Activities (Download)

  1. Propaganda was an important tool for making a substantive case in an eye-catching fashion. Work together in groups to design new slogans for the women’s suffrage movement from a contemporary perspective. If it helps, divide up the project so some students are writing slogans, while others use their artistic skills to draw and design a banner.
  2. Research the political and ethical issues facing women in America today. How are women fighting for equal rights in our current time period? What are the arguments on each side of the issue you are investigating?