by Anne M. Boylan
University of Delaware Press, 2021
Paper: 978-1-64453-207-2 | eISBN: 978-1-64453-208-9 | Cloth: 978-1-64453-206-5
Library of Congress Classification JK1911.D4B68 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 324.62309751

Votes for Delaware Women is the first book-length study of the woman suffrage struggle in Delaware, placing it within the rich historical scholarship of the national story. It looks especially at why, despite decades of suffrage organizing and an epic struggle in Dover, in the spring of 1920, the legislature refused to make Delaware the final state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment. The book traces how, starting in the 1890s, white and African American women organized and advocated for "votes for women," first by revising the state constitution and then through a federal amendment. Within the state's two major suffrage organizations, the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association (DESA), an affiliate of the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and the Delaware branch of the National Woman's Party (NWP), divisions over strategy and tactics widened into fissures, especially during the Great War, making it difficult to unite in a common endeavor. Delaware was unusual as a border state that was segregated but did not disfranchise African Americans. In the end, the book argues, a combination of racial and class issues doomed the ratification effort.