Secondary Source

How Suffragists Reacted to the Titanic Disaster

James P. Danky and Wayne A. Wiegand. Print Culture in a Diverse America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. (pp. 203-222).

Era: Post-Suffrage Era | Media: Book Chapter

The book Print Culture in a Diverse America is a collection of essays on “books, newspapers, and magazines issued by and for diverse, often marginalized, groups.”

In chapter nine, Steven Biel writes about the “contested meanings of the Titanic disaster”—the 1912 sinking of the British passenger ship.

Suffragists are among the groups Biel looks at. To make his case, he uses media produced for newspapers and journals that reported on or captured the feelings of suffragists and how they reacted to the Titanic disaster.

Biel writes that suffragists used the conventional narrative of the chivalrous men who saved women and children on the Titanic to argue for suffrage. For instance, Alice Stone Blackwell, editor of the National American Woman Suffrage Association journal Woman’s Journal, argued for a new type of chivalry that would expand protection to everybody, and asserted that voting rights for women would help advance that principle. An editorial in the Progressive Women lambasted men’s hypocrisy because they protected women on the ship but did not protect women in politics and denied them the right to participate in government. Other argued that women also showed bravery on the Titanic, and that “attention to this fact would advance the suffrage cause.”

The full chapter is available for free on Google Books.


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