VIRTUAL CONVENTION: Watch the Women’s Rights National Historical Park’s 2020 Convention Days Online


Melinda Grube portrays Elizabeth Cady Stanton in conversation with Frederick Douglass (Nathan Richardson).

The Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York, hosted a three-day convention on July 17-19, 2020 to commemorate the First Women’s Rights Convention in the U.S. in 1848. The event featured live historical performances and speeches, history tours, children’s activities, hands-on art projects and scholarly speakers, including keynote speaker Coline Jenkins, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s great-great granddaughter.

Click here to watch some of the key living history performances, speeches and tours.

VIDEO, LECTURE: “What We Can Learn About Allyship Today from “Suffragents” Who Helped Women Get the Vote”


What can those with visibility and influence do – beyond stating support for a particular movement – to combat injustice? Can those with power and privilege advance the interests of others – without hijacking or getting in the way of the efforts of the marginalized groups they mean to support? NYU Journalism Professor Brooke Kroeger explores the formation of the Men’s League for Women Suffrage, how it grew from 150 founding members into a force of thousands across thirty-five states, what they did at the behest of the movement’s female leadership – and why.

Part of the NYU College of Arts & Science’s Benston Dean’s Lecture series, recorded by NYU-TV.



VIDEOS, SLIDES: Judges, Lawyers, & Women’s Suffrage: Recognizing the Men Who Stood with Women on the Front Lines

On March 25, 2019, the Gender Fairness Committee of the 3d Judicial District of the New York State Unified Court System presented a panel at Albany Law School, titled “Judges, Lawyers & Women’s Suffrage: Recognizing the Men Who Stood with Women on the Front Lines.” Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard Dollinger traced the legal actions of men who attempted as individuals to change marital laws of the 18th and 19th century that discriminated against women and NYU Professor Brooke Kroeger continued with the organized response of lawyers and judges in the final decade of the suffrage campaign, 1909 to 1920, as members of the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage. Judge Dollinger followed up with an ethics discussion of the present day restrictions on judges, who are prohibited from public support of a controversial cause to avoid any appearance of impartiality.  This link contains details of the event and video and slides from the Dollinger and Kroeger presentations, also offered below.

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.

Library of Congress Archives of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The Library of Congress digitized and organized thousands of documents of suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

The collection spans the years 1840 to 1906, and includes 500 items from Anthony’s papers and 1,000 items from Stanton’s papers.

The Library of Congress wrote about some of the highlights included in the archives:

  • An official report and newspaper clippings of the historic 1848 convention for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York;
  • A pamphlet printed by Frederick Douglass’ North Star newspaper after Douglass attended the convention and spoke forcefully for women’s suffrage;
  • Stanton’s handwritten draft of her controversial “The Woman’s Bible,” which nearly divided the suffrage movement when it was published in 1895;
  • Twenty-five volumes of handwritten diaries kept by Anthony on her activities and events of the day, such as President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination;
  • Scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, programs and other accounts of the time that would be impossible to re-create today;
  • Correspondence on the multivolume “History of Woman Suffrage,” the first three volumes of which the two women co-edited with Matilda Joslyn Gage;
  • Speeches and correspondence on the temperance and antislavery movements.

Browse the Stanton papers here. Read the Anthony papers here. Each link includes finding aids for the archives as well as teaching resources.


Women’s Suffrage Prison Narratives

Prison Narratives from Boethius to Zana examines selected works of writers, from the 6th century to the 21st, imprisoned for their beliefs. The book’s seventh chapter, “‘From Prison to People’: How Women Jailed for Suffrage Inscribed Their Prison Experience on the American Public,” focuses on Alice Paul and members of the National Woman’s Party (NWP) who were jailed for picketing for suffrage in Washington, DC.

Since most of the NWP suffragists who were “jailed for freedom”—to use member Doris Steven’s term—were denied personal items like pens and paper, they did not leave behind a large body of jailhouse writings. However, if we expand our definition of “prison writing” to include other forms of visual and verbal rhetoric designed to inscribe their experience upon public consciousness, a great deal of material is available, including picket messages, The Suffragist magazine, and the “Prison Special” speaking tour. The chapter examines these efforts in light of Paul’s approach to non-violent “militancy” and rhetorical strategies such as “political mimesis.”

A free excerpt is available through Google Books, where you can also purchase access to the full work. You can purchase a physical copy of the book through the publisher’s website.

ISBN: 978-1-349-49153-7

Video: The Oratory of Women’s Suffrage

The Oratory of Women’s Suffrage is a video documentary that recreates the speeches of leading suffragists whose impassioned words shaped the women’s movement during its inception in the late 19th century. It includes speeches by well-known suffragists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth.

It is available to purchase as a DVD or for streaming from the Films Media Group website. This link also provides a free two-minute preview of the documentary. You can also find the documentary at academic libraries (see WorldCat to check for a copy near you).

ISBN: 978-1-62290-345-0

John Stuart Mill Speech: On the Admission of Women to the Electoral Franchise

John Stuart Mill, the 19th-century British philosopher and economist best known for his writings on liberalism and utilitarianism, was also an early male advocate of women’s rights and enfranchisement.

In 1866, Mill—on behalf of two women’s rights pioneers, Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson—presented the House of Commons with the first mass petition in favor of women’s suffrage. The petition’s origins are described in a UK Parliament article about the document:

The Liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill MP (1806-1873) was elected MP for the City of Westminster in 1865 on a platform including votes for women. Mill’s thinking on women’s rights was influenced by his wife, Harriet Taylor Mill (1807-1858). In 1869 Mill published his famous essay “The Subjection of Women“, in favour of equality of the sexes.

In 1865 the Kensington Society was formed. A discussion group for middle-class educated women who were barred from higher education in this period, it met at the Kensington home of Indian scholar Charlotte Manning. Following a discussion on suffrage, a small informal committee was formed to draft a petition and gather signatures, led by women including Barbara Bodichon, Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett. Mill agreed to present the petition to Parliament provided it could get at least 100 signatures, and the first version was drafted by his step-daughter, Helen Taylor.

The petition sparked some Parliamentary interest in women’s suffrage and led, one year later, to the assembly’s first debate on the question. On May 20, 1867—the day he turned 61—Mill argued before the House of Commons that British women should be given the right to vote.

At the time, the Commons was considering the Second Reform Act, which eventually roughly doubled the size of the electorate in England and Wales by loosening the property qualifications Brits had to meet in order to vote. The legislation only applied to the Queen’s male subjects, however, so Mill devised a clever ploy: He proposed to amend the Act by replacing instances of the word “man” with “person,” a change that would have included (some) women in the mass of newly eligible voters. Though he later described as “perhaps the only really important public service I performed in the capacity as a Member of Parliament,” Mill’s amendment was defeated when put to a vote.

He had never expected it to succeed, however. Rather, Mill used the amendment as a pretext to debate the larger question of why women were not allowed to vote. He began his speech by refuting some obvious potential objections to his proposal, calling it an “extension of the suffrage which can excite no party or class feeling in this House” and “which cannot afflict the most timid alarmist with revolutionary terrors, or offend the most jealous democrat as an infringement of popular rights, or a privilege granted to one class of society at the expense of another.”

Having set these issues aside, Mill got to the heart of the matter, saying, “There is nothing to distract our attention from the simple question, whether there is any adequate justification for continuing to exclude an entire half of the community, not only from admission, but from the capability of being ever admitted within the pale of the Constitution.”

Women’s exclusion from the voter rolls, he argued, was an outrage against the idea of the British constitution’s universal applicability. It was predicated only on the basis of women’s sex, an immutable factor beyond anyone’s control, and had no equivalent in British law or common sense:

There is no other example of an exclusion which is absolute. If the law denied a vote to all but the possessors of £5,000 a year, the poorest man in the nation might—and now and then would—acquire the suffrage; but neither birth, nor fortune, nor merit, nor exertion, nor intellect, nor even that great disposer of human affairs, accident, can ever enable any woman to have her voice counted in those national affairs which touch her and hers as nearly as any other person in the nation …

…[J]ustice, though it does not necessarily require that we should confer political functions on every one, does require that we should not, capriciously and without cause, withhold from one what we give to another. As was most truly said by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire, in the most misunderstood and misrepresented speech I ever remember; to lay a ground for refusing the suffrage to any one, it is necessary to allege either personal unfitness or public danger. Now, can either of these be alleged in the present case? Can it be pretended that women who manage an estate or conduct a business—who pay rates and taxes, often to a large amount, and frequently from their own earnings—many of whom are responsible heads of families, and some of whom, in the capacity of schoolmistresses, teach much more than a great number of the male electors have ever learnt—are not capable of a function of which every male householder is capable? Or is it feared that if they were admitted to the suffrage they would revolutionize the State—would deprive us of any of our valued institutions, or that we should have worse laws, or be in any way whatever worse governed through the effect of their suffrages? No one, Sir, believes anything of the kind.

Though it failed to achieve its purported purpose of amending the Second Reform Act, Mill’s speech proved enduring, and was used in the next century by American suffragists, including in this 1912 pamphlet distributed by the Collegiate Equal Suffrage League of New York State.

You can read Mill’s entire speech to the House of Commons—complete with the responses of some of his fellow legislators—here, or you can read just Mill’s speech here.

You can download a PDF version of the original printed text of Mill’s long essay “The Subjection of Women” below, or you can access it in various digitized formats—including Kindle versions—for free here, via Project Gutenberg.

For more on the contributions of male suffragists, see Brooke Kroeger’s book The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote.

Pamphlet: Attorney Gilbert E. Roe Cites 15 Ways the Laws of New York Discriminated Against Women in 1914

In 1914, New York attorney Gilbert E. Roe, a stalwart of the New York Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, cited in an address to that group 15 different ways in which New York’s laws discriminated against women. The text of Roe’s address (shown as a download below) was published in pamphlet form by the National American Woman Suffrage Association in cooperation with the Men’s League. R.C. Beadle, who wrote the introduction to the pamphlet (and occasioned Roe’s remarks), was the Men’s League’s executive secretary at the time, having succeeded Max Eastman.

Adapted from page 140 of The Suffragents: How Women Used Men to Get the Vote (2017) by Brooke Kroeger:

At a Men’s League meeting that winter, the attorney Gilbert E. Roe laid out all the ways New York law discriminated against women, a presentation the league turned into a pamphlet because of the “wide interest” his disquisition generated. For a reason no known documentation helps to explain, Beadle included a note with the published text to tell readers that the League was a “cooperating organization” in the Empire State Campaign Committee. Had the men of suffrage begun to get too much publicity? “While it is apparent that most of the campaigning will have to be done by the women,” Beadle’s note read, “still the interest and support of men, if only to the extent of a large membership list for the Men’s League, is of immense value.” Roe cited more than fifteen ways the law worked against women. He started with income and property, and the Men’s often-made point that the government taxed women as it did men even though women had no vote in determining either the tax rates or how tax revenue might be spent. He also mentioned inheritance rights; under the law, when husband and wife had joint earnings, women got a much worse deal.

If you’re interested in reading more about the role that men played in the movement for women’s voting rights, see Brooke Kroeger’s The Suffragents, Henry B. Blackwell’s essay “Objections to Woman Suffrage Answered,” and W.E.B. Du Bois’ writings on suffrage