Archivist, Friends Historical Library
Kerry Kristine McElrone
Interlibrary Loan Specialist
Women in New Jersey had equal voting rights if “they could credibly declare they had property worth 50 pounds.”
Read more about When Women Lost the Vote here
Open wide your throats, And welcome in the peaceful scene, of government in petticoats!
~ Closing stanza of “The Freedom of Election” - a satirical poem to be sung to the tune of “The Battle of the Kegs” as published in a New Jersey paper
The first Women's Rights Convention takes place in Seneca Falls, New York, as a result of a tea party hosted ten days prior by Jane Hunt for fellow Quakers Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia and Martha Wright, and Mary Ann McClintock.
One of the resolutions in the accompanying Declaration of Sentiments concerned the controversial idea that women should seek the franchise.
It began with a Tea Party - read more about serving up suffrage here
The first National Women’s Rights Convention was held in Worcester, Massachusetts Abolitionists such as Abby Kelley Foster, William Lloyd Garrison, and Sojourner Truth attended, as well as activists Lucy Stone and Paulina Wright Davis. Susan B. Anthony was inspired by convention reports to join the movement.
The American Equal Rights Association was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, with the stated goal of suffrage for all regardless of gender or race.
I want women to have their rights. In the courts women have no right, no voice; nobody speaks for them. I wish woman to have her voice there among the pettifoggers. If it is not a fit place for women, it is unfit for men to be there.
~ Sojourner Truth, First Annual Meeting of the American Equal Rights Association
Gender is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution for the first time via the Fourteenth Amendment, and defines eligible voters as “male citizens” over twenty-one years old.
172 women (including four women of color), from Vineland, New Jersey vote in a local election. They took their own ballot box to the polls. Hundreds of women across the U.S. attempted to vote over the next decade.
An invite here to BYOBB - Bring Your Own Ballot Box
Women in the territory of Wyoming gain full suffrage and electoral rights.
Find out more about the The Legacy of Wyoming Women, pioneers who paved the way
The 15th Amendment declares “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 race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It does not broaden rights to non-males as previously identified in the 14th Amendment.
Poll taxes, literary tests, violence and other intimidation tactics are employed to implicitly deny the vote for non-whites.
Sojourner Truth demands a ballot at a Michigan polling place. She is turned away.
Susan B. Anthony is arrested in New York for attempting to vote in the Presidential election.
In Virginia Minor vs. Happersett, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that women are citizens, but are not guaranteed voting rights.
It was No Minor Matter - read about Virginia Minor's Case For the Vote here
Native Americans continue to be denied the vote by the Supreme Court & the 14th Amendment, as they are not considered citizens--despite the fact that the U.S. Constitution delineated branches of government according to the model set by the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace. The Senate acknowledged this influence in 1987 with a special resolution.
Find a guide to the The Six Nations' Influence on the U.S. Constitution here
In New York, the first School Suffrage act passes, and in Albany, teacher C. Mary Williams serves as the first Vice-President of the School Suffrage Society. By the end of the decade women in over 15 states and territories have school suffrage, allowing them to elect school officials and school board members. In these states and others, they also have the right to be elected to school offices.
The Amazons of Albany - get to know the women at the forefront of school suffrage here
White women in Washington state gain full suffrage in 1883, but four years later the state Supreme Court rules the law is unconstitutional.
Meet the Wise Women of Washington State Suffrage here
Women in Kansas succeeded in gaining municipal suffrage, and elected the first woman mayor, Susana M. Salter.
Read the story of Her Honor - The First Woman Mayor here
Wyoming is the first state to include legislation in its constitution for women's voting rights. Twenty years earlier, Louisa Swain of Laramie cast the first documented vote by a woman in Wyoming.
The ballot in the hands of woman means power added to influence. How well she will use that power I can not foretell.
~ Francis E.W. Harper, The World's Congress of Representative Women
Not alone the Iroquois but most Indians of North America trace descent in the female line; among some tribes woman enjoys almost the whole legislative authority and in others a prominent share...But the most notable fact connected with woman’s participation in governmental affairs among the Iroquois...the Matriarchate or Mother-rule is the modern world indebted for its first conception of inherent rights, natural equality of condition, and the establishment of a civilized government upon this basis.
~ Matilda Joslyn Gage, “Woman, Church, and State”
The Mother Rule Influence On Suffrage - Find the full text here
The week-long World's Congress of Representative Women was held in Chicago at The World’s Fair. Nearly 500 women from 27 countries spoke.
Lost Art and the Ladies of The Board - the official proceedings of the WCRW are here
Not till the universal title of humanity to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is conceded to be inalienable to all; not till then is woman’s lesson taught and woman’s cause won.
~ Anna Julia Cooper, World’s Congress of Representative Women
Women in the states of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho gain full suffrage rights.
The elective franchise is withheld from one half of its citizens…because the word people...has been turned and twisted to mean all who were shrewd and wise enough to have themselves born boys instead of girls, or who took the trouble to be born white instead of black.
~ Mary Church Terrell, NAWSA Convention
Women in Alaska, Arizona, California, Kansas, Montana, New York, and Washington state, all battle for and win full suffrage rights. In states like Alaska, native women were denied the right to vote as they were not considered U.S. citizens.
The Woman's Suffrage Procession, the first national women's march, is held in Washington D.C.
It was organized by Alice Paul and Lucy Burns.
Either I go with you or not at all. I am not taking this stand because I personally wish for recognition. I am doing it for the future benefit of my whole race.
~ Ida B. Wells, Woman's Suffrage Procession
When the ballot is put into the hands of the American woman, the world is going to get a correct estimate of the Negro woman. It will find her a tower of strength of which poets have never sung, orators have never spoken, and scholars have never written.”
~ Nannie Helen Burroughs, THE CRISIS
The first woman is sworn in to Congress: Jeannette Rankin of Montana.
Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty
~ sign from National Woman’s Party picketer
Members of the National Woman’s Party, including Swarthmore alumnae Alice Paul and Mabel Vernon, picket the White House and the U.S. Capitol with signs asking President Woodrow Wilson to support a federal suffrage amendment. Women are attacked by mobs, and arrested for “disturbing the peace.” In prison many go on hunger strikes in protest and are brutally force fed.
A War On Women - read more about this turbulent time here
The states ratify the 19th Amendment, which was passed by Congress in 1919, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote in state and federal elections.
Activist and historian Tillie Khaalyát’ Kinnon Paul Tamaree, a Tlingit woman of the Teeyhittaan Raven clan of Wrangell, Alaska, accompanies a Tlingit native to the polls and is imprisoned for “inducing an Indian not entitled to vote to vote at an election.” The case is dismissed.
Writer, musician, composer, lecturer, and activist Zitkála-Šá, or Red Bird, also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, is instrumental in the passage of the Indian Citizenship Bill. The bill granted United States citizenship to Native Americans, but did not grant them the right to vote per states’ rights, despite the 15th and 19th Amendments.
Asian-Americans are granted the right to vote by the McCarran-Walter Act after nearly a century of being denied citizenship.
Patsy Mink of Hawaii is elected to Congress. A third-generation Japanese-American, she is the first female U.S. Representative of Asian-American descent as well as the first woman of color to sit in the House.
The Voting Rights Act prohibits, nationwide, the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on account of race or color.
Congress extends the Voting Rights Act for five years, and adds provisions for a nationwide ban on literacy tests and reduced residency requirements. It also reduces the voting age in national elections from 21 to 18 years of age, a proviso that became permanent by the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971.
Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm is the first African American woman to run for U.S. President.
Learn more about the Unbought and Unbossed icon here
A third extension of the Voting Rights Act removes barriers for so-called “language minorities” like LatinX & Native populations.
Geraldine Ferraro joins the Democratic Presidential ticket as the first female and first Italian American vice-presidential nominee representing an American major political party.
Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March as Women’s History Month.
It's not impossible for a woman - a Black woman - to become President
~ Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
Find a short biography of The Gentlewoman From Illinois here
To the feminists of the future, may you learn from our achievements and our mistakes.
~ Rosalyn Baxandall & Linda Gordon, DEAR SISTERS: DISPATCHES FROM THE WOMEN'S LIBERATION MOVEMENT
But despite our progress, so much work remains. Will we be a nation where there’s only one way to love, one way to look, one way to live? Or, will we be a nation where everyone has the freedom to live openly and equally; a nation that’s Stronger Together?
~ Sarah McBride, Democratic National Convention
She's Just Getting Started - learn more about the transgender activist here
Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Democratic Party nomination as the first woman to be nominated for president of the United States by a major party, and is the first woman to win the popular vote in a presidential election.
Lisa Blunt Rochester is the first woman and the first African American to represent Delaware in Congress.
Angered by the language of the 2016 presidential campaign and worried about a political culture that was misogynistic and attacked equality for people of color, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community, hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets in the nation’s capital. Millions more joined in sister marches across the country and around the world...Ultimately, one of the largest protests in the nation’s history was cofounded by a diverse group of women seeking to honor the legacy of suffragists, feminists, and other civil rights activists while striving for a more decentralized and inclusive movement.
Text from the Smithsonian’s exhibit on The Women’s March
More than 100 women are sworn into the 116th House of Representatives.
Ninety-one are part of the House Democratic Caucus: the largest number of women ever in a party Caucus in the United States Congress.
A record number of women of color serve in the U.S. Congress, which is the most racially and ethnically diverse Congress in history.
Kyrsten Sinema was elected as Arizona's first female and first openly bisexual Senator.
In 2020, we have an opportunity to celebrate the vote, and also take accountability. To rethink our history.
~ Sally Roesche Wagner, THE WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
~ from The Equal Rights Amendment
On January 15 the Virginia legislature became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, which was first introduced in Congress in 1921 by Alice Paul. The federal courts or Congress will decide if the amendment will become law.
Why the ERA? For more background and current events, visit here
Women’s History Month honors “Valiant Women of the Vote” and is dedicated to honoring
the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women,
and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.
Learn more about the Too Often Unsung heroines of suffrage here
Kamala Harris joins the Democratic Presidential ticket as the Vice-Presidential nominee.
She is the first Black and South Asian American woman chosen for national office by a major political party, and the first person of Indian descent to appear on a presidential ticket.