“Roses for Radicals” and “Votes for Women”: Children’s Books on Suffrage

Susan Zimet’s Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote and Winifred Conkling’s Votes for Women: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot are two books for young readers who want to learn about the fight for suffrage in the United States.

The books use photos, cartoons, and text to illustrate how a group of activists banded together to convince America’s power structure to given women the right to vote.

In a New York Times review of both books, Lauren Duca writes that “the women who shaped the American narrative come to life [in the books] with refreshing attention to detail.”

Publisher’s Weekly wrote that Roses and Radicals is a “compact, composite portrait of the women who fought to secure voting rights for women” and is “accessible and relevant.”

Kirkus lauds Votes for Women as perhaps “the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement.”

Buy and preview Roses for Radicals here and Votes for Women here.


Hyperallergic on Cambridge’s Stash of British Suffrage Movement Posters

The art and culture news site Hyperallergic published a piece featuring Cambridge University’s discovery of British suffrage movement posters meant to rally support for women’s voting rights.

Author Claire Voon writes:

In 2016, staffers at Cambridge University Library discovered an old, brown parcel in its collections. Opening the package revealed that it had originally reached the library around 1910, and for over a century, its contents had gone unnoticed. Mysteriously addressed to “the Librarian,” the parcel held a bundle of well-preserved suffrage posters from the early 1900s. Its sender was Marion Phillips, a major figure of the suffrage movement in Britain, who was elected to parliament in 1929.

For the first time since the discovery, the library has organized a display featuring a selection of the posters. The small exhibition marks the centenary of the Representation of the People Act, which granted British women the right to vote — women over 30, that is, who met minimum property qualifications. (It wasn’t until 1928 that the full electoral equality was attained.)

The article also features 13 of the posters on display at Cambridge.

Read the whole article here.

Virtual Archive: Tennessee and Passage of the 19th Amendment

The Tennessee State Library and Archives put together an online archival resource that documents the state’s pivotal role in passing the 19th Amendment, which ended the exclusion of women from using the ballot box.

36 states were needed to ratify that amendment. By the time the suffrage debate reached Tennessee, 35 states had ratified the change. In August 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. The state, and the rest of the United States, will celebrate the centennial of suffrage in 2020.

The state’s archives features documents, photos, cartoons and audio from pro-suffrage and anti-suffrage forces. The website explains:

This initial collection focuses on pro- and anti-suffrage activity in Tennessee in 1920, primarily drawing from the papers of suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, anti-suffragist Josephine A. Pearson, and Governor Albert H. Roberts. In addition to letterstelegramspolitical cartoonsbroadsides, and photographs, it contains three audio clips from an interview conducted in 1983 with Abby Crawford Milton. As the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment approaches, we plan to add to this online collection, expanding the chronological and narrative scope.

 Check out the whole website here.

Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign

Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene’s book Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign tells the story of the rhetorical and activist strategies Alice Paul pioneered during the fight for suffrage.

About this book:

Past biographies, histories, and government documents have ignored Alice Paul’s contribution to the women’s suffrage movement, but this groundbreaking study scrupulously fills the gap in the historical record. Masterfully framed by an analysis of Paul’s nonviolent and visual rhetorical strategies, Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign narrates the remarkable story of the first person to picket the White House, the first to attempt a national political boycott, the first to burn the president in effigy, and the first to lead a successful campaign of nonviolence.

Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene also chronicle other dramatic techniques that Paul deftly used to gain publicity for the suffrage movement. Stunningly woven into the narrative are accounts of many instances in which women were in physical danger. Rather than avoid discussion of Paul’s imprisonment, hunger strikes, and forced feeding, the authors divulge the strategies she employed in her campaign. Paul’s controversial approach, the authors assert, was essential in changing American attitudes toward suffrage.

Of particular interest to readers of this website may be chapter three, which chronicles Paul’s 1913 founding of Suffragist, a journal with striking political cartoons that advocated for the passage of a federal amendment to grant women voting rights. It was published originally with the backing of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), though after Paul split from the association over strategic differences, the paper was published with the backing of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, and later, the National Woman’s Party, with which the Union eventually merged.

The fourth chapter details the parades for suffrage that Paul organized, with a focus on their symbolism and how they looked to the crowds watching them. The chapter also goes into the newspaper coverage of Paul’s suffrage parades and protests, with a focus on the famous 1913 parade in Washington, DC.

You can purchase the book from the publisher, or read it on JStor or at a library near you. You can also read excerpts on Google Books.

For more about Alice Paul, see this website’s entry on the film Iron Jawed Angels. 

Digital Exhibit: Arkansas Women’s Suffrage Centennial

This virtual exhibit is part of the Arkansas Women’s Suffrage Centennial, a project that “commemorates the 100th anniversary of the right to vote for women in Arkansas by promoting events, encouraging research and education programs related to women’s suffrage, and helping to preserve the history of women’s suffrage within the state.”

The exhibit features a number of galleries, which include information as well as photographs and original documents from the suffrage era and focus on topics ranging from African-American suffragists to suffrage fashion.

Of particular interest is the exhibit’s media gallery, which features documents, cartoons, drawings, and photographs and includes this delightful suffrage fashion gallery.

Online Exhibit: Motherhood, Social Service and Political Reform: Political Culture and Imagery of American Woman Suffrage

This online exhibit, “Motherhood, Social Service and Political Reform: Political Culture and Imagery of American Woman Suffrage,” follows women’s long road to the vote, focusing on the “distinct female political culture and imagery” of the suffrage movement.

The exhibit allows you either to take an in-depth look at the history of women’s suffrage or to take a shorter tour through an image gallery. The in-depth journey provides commentary, photographs, and documents of the history of the movement, including an exploration of how themes of domestic life and motherhood were used to advance movement goals. The image gallery contains 50 images of pamphlets, posters, and other paraphernalia used to rally support for the movement.

An updated image exhibit, “Creating a Female Political Culture,” curated by Edith P. Mayo and the National Women’s History Museum and released in January 2017, presents many of the same images from the bigger exhibit in slideshow format, with a main image and detailed text description on each slide.

Women’s Suffrage Teaching Resources from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress contains a trove of online materials for students and teachers of all grade levels and subjects. The 100-plus teaching-suffrage resources listed on the site—many of which feature primary sources and activities related to them—include:

Additionally, teachers can search by teaching standards to find resources that adhere to various state standards, the Common Core, and more.

Want to find your own teachable primary sources? Check out the Selected Suffrage Images from the Library of Congress archive.

Lesson Plan: The Role of the Media in Women’s Suffrage Movements

This 19-page lesson plan is designed to help teachers introduce seventh graders to the history of the Progressive Era, with a particular focus on the US suffrage movement and the 19th Amendment. It uses primary sources like cartoons and propaganda posters to help students consider the media’s crucial role in the struggle for women’s enfranchisement.

The plan includes guiding questions, lesson objectives, assessment tools, instructions for how to get students’ attention and run the activities, accommodations for Diverse Learners, and teaching materials in the form of primary-source documents from the suffrage era.

The lesson is designed to meet National Council for the Social Studies standards and should take about 90 minutes to complete.

Note: The Virginia Tech website that used to host the plan has been closed down, but you can download its as a .pdf by clicking on the button below.  

The Suffrage Postcard Project

The Suffrage Postcard Project is a digital humanities initiative by Kristin Allukian, assistant professor of English at the University of South Florida and Ana Stevenson, a postdoctoral research fellow in the International Studies Group at the University of the Free State, South Africa.

This impressive compilation of images from the suffrage era is unique in its highlighting of representations of masculinity, manhood, and fatherhood—such as “Mother’s Got the Habit Now,” a print depicting a suffragette dressed in her husband’s clothing—instead of primarily focusing on representations of women.

From the site:

This project looks at illustrations and images of masculinity and fatherhood that circulated in early twentieth-century pro- and anti-suffrage postcards and utilizes a range of digital tools including Omeka, ImagePlot, Gephi, Tableau Public, and Iconclass to explore how feminist digital humanities practices engender new visual historical narratives of masculinity and manhood.

The primary goal of The Suffrage Postcard Project is to provide an easy-to-search archive for research and teaching on the suffrage era. The site provides options to browse images by title or creator, or to browse collections like this delightful Cats and Suffrage Collection. Images are downloadable and citations are provided.

The Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection

The Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection is a privately owned collection of over 1,200 postcards, books, periodicals, and more on the suffrage era.

Readers can browse the following collections:

Each item includes a detailed description, permissions, and citation information.

Some gems from the site include this 1924 clipping from The Literary Digest declaring suffrage a failure and this 1915 postage stamp labelled, “Votes for Women, Pennsylvania.”

About the collector (from the website):

Ann F. Lewis was Senior Advisor to the 2008 Presidential Campaign of Hilary Rodham Clinton. She served as White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton; as Vice President for Planned Parenthood Federation of America; as Political Director of the Democratic National Committee; and as Chief of Staff to then Congresswoman, now Senator Barbara Mikulski. Lewis has been a visiting lecturer at Brandeis University, and at the Annenberg School of the University of Pennsylvania. She was one of the founding members of the National Women’s Political Caucus.