New York Heritage’s Digital Archive on Women’s Suffrage in NY

The New York Heritage research portal has created a wide-ranging digital archive of materials on the women’s suffrage movement in New York.

This archive of records from libraries in New York and across the country touches on everything from the indigenous roots of the women’s suffrage movement to the men who backed suffrage to the Women’s March of 2017. It features original photographs, pamphlets, posters, speeches, articles and more.

The digital archive was put together by Julia Corrice,  Susan Goodier, and Sally Roesch Wagner of the South Central Regional Library Council. Their partners were the Empire State Library Network and New York Heritage Digital Collections. Humanities New York provided funding.

Explore the entire archive 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.

Cambridge’s Collection of Suffragist Posters

In February 2018, the University of Cambridge’s library launched an exhibit dedicated to showing off posters used in the British campaign for suffrage in the early 20th century. These posters aimed to mobilize public opinion in Britain towards securing the vote for women.

Cambridge put the posters up for display in 2018 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, which granted women over 30-years-old who had property the right to vote. Full suffrage for all women over the age of 21 was passed in 1928.

The New York Times reports on how the posters got to Cambridge:

They were wrapped in plain brown paper and addressed to “the librarian” at the University of Cambridge.

The delivery took place circa 1910. Sent by a major figure of the suffragist movement in Britain, Marion Phillips, the parcel contained posters illustrating the struggles of women in the country to get the right to vote.

It took decades for the 100-year-old posters on fading paper to be rediscovered and dusted off. But on Saturday [February 3, 2018], the images illustrating women’s fight for voting rights went on display for the first time at the university to commemorate the centenary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918, which gave women over the age of 30 the right to vote.

The institution bills the posters as “one of the largest surviving collections of suffrage posters from the early 20th century.”

The Cambridge University website includes images of some of the posters, as well as audio interviews with Dr. Lucy Delap on the publicity campaigns British suffragists waged.


Exhibit: When Greenwich Village Was a Suffrage ‘Hotbed’

“Hotbed,” a new exhibit at the New-York Historical Society, explores how Greenwich Village, a neighborhood on the west side of lower Manhattan, served as a hub for suffragist activity in the early 20th century.

The exhibit features over 100 items that spotlight the feminist spirit of activists who congregated in Greenwich Village and fought for suffrage. “Hotbed” “bring[s] to life the bohemian scene and its energetic activist spirit,” the New-York Historical Society says on its website.

The exhibit website also features a small gallery of suffrage-related photographs.

In a New York Times write-up of the museum exhibit, Melissa Smith reports that the museum collection makes the case that the figures who gathered in Greenwich Village were a key reason why the suffrage cause’s popularity grew in size in the early 20th century.

Smith writes:

The political radicals who lived there were mainly middle class and educated, and for them dignity took on a new meaning as the key element in the fight for equal rights for women. From 1908 to 1915, these figures worked to persuade women that they had to stop behaving so much like ladies.

Smith notes that the exhibit’s opening gallery displays magazines, photographs and a map showing neighborhood meeting spots for suffrage activists.

Other galleries show how suffrage activists’ embrace of other causes boosted their own ranks, and how World War I and race divided the suffrage movement.

The New-York Historical Society’s “Hotbed” runs from November 03, 2017March 25, 2018.

You can buy tickets here.


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.

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.  

Anti-Suffrage Book: Socialism, Feminism, and Suffragism; The Terrible Triplets, Connected by the Same Umbilical Cord, and Fed From the Same Nursing Bottle

Part of the NAWSA Collection of the Library of Congress, this ponderously titled book comprises about 300 pages of anti-suffrage invective. As the Library of Congress’ description puts it, “[t]his book equates feminism and woman suffrage with both socialism and atheism. According to the author, feminism and the enfranchisement of women will destroy the family. The book also suggests that pregnant women who vote run the risk of bearing ‘physically imperfect or idiotic’ children.”

The book’s dedication page offers a snapshot of its tone and worldview:

To the innumerable multitude of motherly women, who love and faithfully serve their fellowmen with a high regard for duty, with a veneration for God, respect for authority, and love for husband, home and heaven, whether such a woman is the mother of children, or whether she has been denied motherhood and bestows her motherliness upon all who are weak, distressed and afflicted.

This book is also dedicated to the man who is, in nature, a knight and protector of the weak, the defender of the good, who shrinks no responsibility, who has a paternal love of home, a patriotic affection for country, veneration for moral and religious precepts, and who has the courage to combat evil and fight for all that which is good.

Socialism, Feminism, and Suffragism is an interesting—if thoroughly dated and retrograde—screed. Though many modern readers will doubtless object to its attitude of frank paternalism, it provides worthy insight into the thinking of those who saw the push for suffrage as part of a larger and more sinister attack on the foundations of early 20th-century American society.

And Hubbard was indeed far from the only person to argue that giving women voting rights would benefit American socialists; see “The Red Behind the Yellow,” a poster attacking the suffrage movement on anti-socialist grounds.

You can read the Library of Congress’ digitized version of the book by clicking the button below, or here, via Google Books. You can purchase the book in hardcopy here, via Forgotten Books.

Library of Congress National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection

This extensive digitized collection from the Library of Congress contains hundreds of suffrage-era resources related to the National American Woman Suffrage Association, a prominent American suffrage organization whose founders included Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The collection consists of a wide array of media, including books, pamphlets, scrapbooks, newspapers, and posters.

The following description comes from the Library of Congress overview of the collection:

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) Collection is a library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign. They were collected between 1890 and 1938 by members of NAWSA and donated to the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress on November 1, 1938. The bulk of the collection is derived from the library of Carrie Chapman Catt, president of NAWSA from 1900-1904, and again from 1915-1920. Additional materials were donated to the NAWSA Collection from the libraries of other members and officers, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Alice Stone Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Smith Miller, and Mary A. Livermore.

The complete collection consists of a variety of materials—newspapers, books, pamphlets, memorials, scrapbooks, and proceedings from the meetings of various women’s organizations—documenting the suffrage fight.

The materials in the collection amount to approximately 65,683 pages and can be broken down as follows:

Books . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37,382

Memorials . . . . . . . . . . . . 278

Pamphlets . . . . . . . . . . . 4,165

Proceedings/Reports . . . 2,058

Serials . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21,800

TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . 65,683

This online selection was based on a number of user groups in mind: students at both the high school and college levels interested in developing a basic understanding of the suffrage movement; teachers of courses at these levels; and advanced scholars engaged in research. In all cases, materials were selected that  best represented the NAWSA organization and its place in the woman suffrage campaign.

Users should note that the collection mirrors the biases of NAWSA’s membership. For the most part, it represents the concerns of well-educated, middle- and upper-class white women living in the North, and especially in New England. There is little in the collection to document the role of Southern women or women of color. Working-class women receive a slightly larger share of attention, but, for the most part, the collection details the experiences of the affluent white women who formed the suffrage campaign’s leadership cadre.

Click here to view other NAWSA-related resources from Women’s Suffrage and the Media.

How Were Suffragettes Treated by the Media?

In this Bustle article, J.R. Thorpe dissects how suffragettes were treated by the media of their time. Using primary sources from the era, Thorpe argues that suffragettes were depicted as neglectful, violent, and disgusting, and further were accused of war-mongering and inciting the downfall of society.

For more primary materials, such as postcards and posters, depicting suffragettes see The Suffrage Postcard Project and American Women Suffrage Postcards.