Written by leading scholars of African American and women's history, the essays in this volume seek to reconceptualize the political history of black women in the United States by placing them "at the center of our thinking." The book explores how slavery, racial discrimination, and gender shaped the goals that African American women set for themselves, their families, and their race and looks at the political tools at their disposal. By identifying key turning points for black women, the essays create a new chronology and a new paradigm for historical analysis. The chronology begins in 1837 with the interracial meeting of antislavery women in New York City and concludes with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The contributors focus on specific examples of women pursuing a dual ambition: to gain full civil and political rights and to improve the social conditions of African Americans. Together, the essays challenge us to rethink common generalizations that govern much of our historical thinking about the experience of African American women. Contributors include Bettina Aptheker, Elsa Barkley Brown, Willi Coleman, Gerald R. Gill, Ann D. Gordon, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, Martha Prescod Norman, Janice Sumler-Edmond, Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, and Bettye Collier-Thomas.
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.
With this first scholarly biography of Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919), Trisha Franzen sheds new light on an important woman suffrage leader who has too often been overlooked and misunderstood.
An immigrant from a poor family, Shaw grew up in an economic reality that encouraged the adoption of non-traditional gender roles. Challenging traditional gender boundaries throughout her life, she put herself through college, worked as an ordained minister and a doctor, and built a tightly-knit family with her secretary and longtime companion Lucy E. Anthony.
Drawing on unprecedented research, Franzen shows how these circumstances and choices both impacted Shaw's role in the woman suffrage movement and set her apart from her native-born, middle- and upper-class colleagues. Franzen also rehabilitates Shaw's years as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, arguing that Shaw's much-belittled tenure actually marked a renaissance of both NAWSA and the suffrage movement as a whole.
Anna Howard Shaw: The Work of Woman Suffrage presents a clear and compelling portrait of a woman whose significance has too long been misinterpreted and misunderstood.
Women from all over Arkansas—left out of the civil rights granted by the post–Civil War Reconstruction Amendments—took part in a long struggle to gain the primary civil right of American citizens: voting. The state’s capital city of Little Rock served as the focal point not only for suffrage work in Arkansas, but also for the state’s contribution to the nationwide nonviolent campaign for women’s suffrage that reached its climax between 1913 and 1920. Based on original research, Cahill’s book relates the history of some of those who contributed to this victorious struggle, reveals long-forgotten photographs, includes a map of the locations of meetings and rallies, and provides a list of Arkansas suffragists who helped ensure that discrimination could no longer exclude women from participation in the political life of the state and nation.
As Giant Steps opens, thirteen-year-old Bernie Epperson of Lafayette, Indiana, is wrestling with double standards placed on her compared with her brothers. Soon her cousin awakens her to all the unfair restrictions women face, and Bernie becomes a suffragette. Meanwhile, World War I begins. Her family is devastated when her brothers become soldiers, and Bernie must decide how to help the war effort and continue to fight for women’s rights. While this story is fictional, the details of the suffrage movement and the war efforts of ordinary Americans are true. Middle and high school students will relate to Bernie and her brothers’ dilemmas a century ago because they also face making decisions in a turbulent world while sifting through contradictory news and changing wisdom.
Following the Balfour Declaration and the British conquest of Palestine (1917–1918), the small Jewish community that lived there wanted to establish an elected assembly as its representative body. The issue that hindered this aim was whether women would be part of it. A group of feminist Zionist women from all over the country created a political party that participated in the elections, even before women’s suffrage was enacted. This unique phenomenon in Mandatory Palestine resulted in the declaration of women’s equal rights in all aspects of life by the newly founded Assembly of Representatives. Margalit Shilo examines the story of these activists to elaborate on a wide range of issues, including the Zionist roots of feminism and nationalism; the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sector’s negation of women’s equality; how traditional Jewish concepts of women fashioned rabbinical attitudes on the question of women’s suffrage; and how the fight for women’s suffrage spread throughout the country. Using current gender theories, Shilo compares the Zionist suffrage struggle to contemporaneous struggles across the globe, and connects this nearly forgotten episode, absent from Israeli historiography, with the present situation of Israeli women. This rich analysis of women’s right to vote within this specific setting will appeal to scholars and students of Israel studies, and to feminist and social historians interested in how contexts change the ways in which activism is perceived and occurs.
As a poet, author, and keen observer of life in 1870s Boston, Harriet Robinson played an essential—if occasionally underappreciated—role in the women’s suffrage movement during Boston’s golden age. Robinson flourished after leaving behind her humble roots in the mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, deciding to spend a year in Boston discovering the culture and politics of America’s Athens. An honest, bright, and perceptive witness, she meets with Emerson and Julia Ward Howe, with whom she organizes the New England Women’s Club, and drinks deeply of the city’s artistic and cultural offerings. Noted historian Claudia L. Bushman proves a wonderful guide as she weaves together Robinson’s journal entries, her own learned commentary, and selections from other nineteenth-century writers to reveal the impact of the industrial revolution and the rise of women’s suffrage as seen through the experience of one articulate, engaged participant. Going to Boston will appeal to readers interested in both the history of Boston and the history of American progress itself.
One of the most memorable images of the British women’s suffrage movement occurred on June 4, Derby Day, 1913. As the field of horses approached a turning at Epsom, militant suffragette Emily Wilding Davison ducked out from under the railing and ran onto the track, reaching for the bridle of the King’s horse, and was killed in the collision. While her death transformed her into a heroine, it all but erased her identity. To identify what impelled Davison to suffer multiple imprisonments, to experience the torture of force-feedings and the insults of hostile members of the crowds who came to hear her speak, Carolyn P. Collette explores a largely ignored source—the writing to which Davison dedicated so much time and effort during the years from 1908 to 1913. Davison’s writing is an implicit apologia for why she lived the life of a militant suffragette and where she continually revisits and restates the principles that guided her: that woman suffrage was necessary to improve the lives of men, women, and children; that the freedom and justice women sought was sanctioned by God and unjustly withheld by humans whose opposition constituted a tyranny that had to be opposed; and that the evolution of human progress demanded that women become fully equal citizens of their nation in every respect— politically, economically, and culturally.
In the Thick of the Fight makes available for the first time the archive of published and unpublished writings of Emily Wilding Davison. Collette reorients both scholarly and public attention away from a single, defining event to the complexity of Davison’s contributions to modern feminist discourse, giving the reader a sense of the vibrancy and diversity of Davison’s suffrage writings.
Since Arkansas’s creation as an independent territory in 1819, its legislature has officially designated a wide assortment of symbols. Some of these refer to economic mainstays while others attest to the aspirations of those who saw a bright future for their extensive and varied community. This volume’s essays examine each of Arkansas’s officially designated symbols, outlining their genesis, their significance at the time of their adoption, and their place in modern Arkansas. Combining political narratives, natural history, and the occasional “shaggy dog” story, Ware makes a case for considering the symbols as useful keys to understanding both the Arkansas that has been and the one it hopes to be.
During the 2017 session, the Arkansas Legislative Assembly expanded the state’s complement of official state symbols. The second edition of this statewide bestseller includes an additional chapter on Arkansas’s newest symbol: the state dinosaur, Arkansaurus fridayi.
In It’s Official!, David Ware makes a case for considering the symbols as useful keys to understanding both the Arkansas that has been and the one it hopes to be.
No study of women's history in the United States is complete without an account of Lucy Stone's role in the nineteenth-century drive for legal and political rights for women.This first fully documented biography of Stone describes her rapid rise to fame and power and her later attempt at an equitable mariage.
Lucy Stone was a Massachusetts newspaper editor, abolitionist, and charismatic orator for the women's rights movement in the last half of the nineteenth century. She was deeply involved in almost every reform issue of her time. Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Julia Ward Howe, Horace Greeley, and Louisa May Alcott counted themselves among her friends. Through her public speaking and her newspaper, the Woman's Journal, Stone became the most widely admired woman's rights spokeswoman of her era. In the nineteenth century, Lucy Stone was a household name.
Kerr begins with Stone's early roots in a poor family in western Massachusetts. She eventually graduated from Oberlin College and then became a full-time public speaker for an anti-slavery society and for women's rights. Despite Stone's strident anti-marriage ideology, she eventually wed Henry Brown Blackwell, and had her first child at the age of thirty-nine.
Although Kerr tells us about Stone's public accomplishments, she emphasizes Stone's personal struggle for autonomy. "Lucy Stone (Only)" was Stone's trademark signature following her marriage. Her refusal to surrender her birth name was one example of her determination to retain her individuality in an era where a woman's right to a separate identity ended with marriage.
Of equal importance is Kerr's discussion of Stone's relationship with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as her revisionist treatment of the schism which eventually divided Stone from Stanton and Anthony. Stone urged legislators not to ignore the need for women's suffrage as they rushed to enfranchise black males. Stanton and Anthony dwelt only on the need for women's suffrage, at the expense of black suffrage. Women's historians, the general reader, and historians of the family will appreciate the story of Stone's attempt to balance the conflicting demands of career and family.
For as long as women have battled for equitable political representation in America, those battles have been defined by images—whether illustrations, engravings, photographs, or colorful chromolithograph posters. Some of these pictures have been flattering, many have been condescending, and others downright incendiary. They have drawn upon prevailing cultural ideas of women’s perceived roles and abilities and often have been circulated with pointedly political objectives.
Picturing Political Power offers perhaps the most comprehensive analysis yet of the connection between images, gender, and power. In this examination of the fights that led to the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Allison K. Lange explores how suffragists pioneered one of the first extensive visual campaigns in modern American history. She shows how pictures, from early engravings and photographs to colorful posters, proved central to suffragists’ efforts to change expectations for women, fighting back against the accepted norms of their times. In seeking to transform notions of womanhood and win the right to vote, white suffragists emphasized the compatibility of voting and motherhood, while Sojourner Truth and other leading suffragists of color employed pictures to secure respect and authority. Picturing Political Power demonstrates the centrality of visual politics to American women’s campaigns throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, revealing the power of images to change history.
Against an Aristocracy of Sex, 1866-1873 is the second of six volumes of the Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The entire collection documents the friendship and accomplishments of two of America's most important social and political reformers. Though neither Stanton nor Anthony lived to see passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, each of them devoted fifty-five years to the cause of women's suffrage.
The second volume picks up the story of Stanton and Anthony at the end of 1866, when they launched their drive to make universal suffrage the priority of Reconstruction. Through letters, speeches, articles, and diaries, this volume recounts their years as editor and publisher of the weekly paper the Revolution, their extensive travels, and their lobbying with Congress. It touches on the bitter division that occurred among suffragists over such controversial topics as marriage and divorce, and a national debate over the citizenship of women under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. By the summer of 1873, when this volume ends, Anthony stood convicted of the federal crime of illegal citizenship of women under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. By the summer of 1873, when this volume ends, Anthony stood convicted of the federal crime of illegal voting. An irate Stanton warned, "I felt afresh the mockery of this boasted chivalry of man towards woman."
The “hush” of the title comes suddenly, when first Elizabeth Cady Stanton dies on October 26, 1902, and three years later Susan B. Anthony dies on March 13, 1906. It is sudden because Stanton, despite near blindness and immobility, wrote so intently right to the end that editors had supplies of her articles on hand to publish several months after her death. It is sudden because Anthony, at the age of eighty-five, set off for one more transcontinental trip, telling a friend on the Pacific Coast, “it will be just as well if I come to the end on the cars, or anywhere, as to be at home.”
Volume VI of this extraordinary series of selected papers is inescapably about endings, death, and silence. But death happens here to women still in the fight. An Awful Hush is about reformers trained “in the school of anti-slavery” trying to practice their craft in the age of Jim Crow and a new American Empire. It recounts new challenges to “an aristocracy of sex,” whether among the bishops of the Episcopal church, the voters of California, or the trustees of the University of Rochester. And it sends last messages about woman suffrage. As Stanton wrote to Theodore Roosevelt on the day before she died, “Surely there is no greater monopoly than that of all men, in denying to all women a voice in the laws they are compelled to obey.”
With the publication of Volume VI, this series is now complete.
In the School of Anti-Slavery, 1840-1866 is the first of six volumes of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The collection documents the lives and accomplishments of two of America's most important social and political reformers. Though neither Stanton nor Anthony lived to see the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, each of them devoted fifty-five years to the cause. Their names were synonymous with woman suffrage in the United States and around the world as they mobilized thousands of women to fight for the right to a political voice.
Opening when Stanton was twenty-five and Anthony was twenty, and ending when Congress sent the Fourteenth Amendment to the states for ratification, this volume recounts a quarter of a century of staunch commitment to political change. Readers will enjoy an extraordinary collection of letters, speeches, articles, and diaries that tells a story-both personal and public-about abolition, temperance, and woman suffrage.
When all six volumes are complete, the Selected Papers of Stanton and Anthony will contain over 2,000 texts transcribed from their originals, the authenticity of each confirmed or explained, with notes to allow for intelligent reading. The papers will provide an invaluable resource for examining the formative years of women's political participation in the United States. No library or scholar of women's history should be without this original and important collection.
National Protection for National Citizens, 1873 to 1880 is the third of six planned volumes of TheSelected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The entire collection documents the friendship and accomplishments of two of America's most important social and political reformers. Though neither Stanton nor Anthony lived to see passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, each of them devoted fifty-five years to the cause of woman suffrage.
The third volume of the Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony opens while woman suffragists await the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in cases testing whether the Constitution recognized women as voters within the terms of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. At its close they are pursuing their own amendment to the Constitution and pressing the presidential candidates of 1880 to speak in its favor. Through their letters, speeches, articles, and diaries, the volume recounts the national careers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as popular lecturers, their work with members of Congress to expand women's rights, their protests during the Centennial Year of 1876, and the launch that same year of their campaign for a Sixteenth Amendment.
Their Place Inside the Body-Politic is a phrase Susan B. Anthony used to express her aspiration for something women had not achieved, but it also describes the woman suffrage movement’s transformation into a political body between 1887 and 1895. This fifth volume opens in February 1887, just after the U.S. Senate had rejected woman suffrage, and closes in November 1895 with Stanton’s grand birthday party at the Metropolitan Opera House.
At the beginning, Stanton and Anthony focus their attention on organizing the International Council of Women in 1888. Late in 1887, Lucy Stone’s American Woman Suffrage Association announced its desire to merge with the national association led by Stanton and Anthony. Two years of fractious negotiations preceded the 1890 merger, and years of sharp disagreements followed. Stanton made her last trip to Washington in 1892 to deliver her famous speech “Solitude of Self.” Two states enfranchised women—Wyoming in 1890 and Colorado in 1893—but failures were numerous. Anthony returned to grueling fieldwork in South Dakota in 1890 and Kansas and New York in 1894. From the campaigns of 1894, Stanton emerged as an advocate of educated suffrage and staunchly defended her new position.
When Clowns Make Laws for Queens, 1880 to 1887 is the fourth of six planned volumes of The Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. The entire collection documents the friendship and accomplishments of two of America's most important social and political reformers.
At the opening of the fourth volume, suffragists hoped to speed passage of a sixteenth amendment to the Constitution through the creation of Select Committees on Woman Suffrage in Congress. Congress did not vote on the amendment until January 1887. Then, in a matter of a week, suffragists were dealt two major blows: the Senate defeated the amendment and the Senate and House reached agreement on the Edmunds-Tucker Act, disenfranchising all women in the Territory of Utah.
As evidenced in this volume's selection of letters, articles, speeches, and diary entries, these were years of frustration. Suffragists not only lost federal and state campaigns for partial and full voting rights, but also endured an invigorated opposition. In spite of these challenges, Stanton and Anthony continued to pursue their life's work. In 1880 both women retired from lecturing to devote attention to their monumental History of Woman Suffrage. They also opened a new transatlantic dialogue about woman's rights during a trip to Europe in 1883.
Ruth A. Miller demonstrates the potential of taking nonhuman linguistic activity—such as the running of machine code—as an analytical model. Via a lively discussion of 19th-century pro- and antisuffragists, Miller tells a new computational story in which language becomes a thing that executes physically or mechanically through systems, networks, and environments, rather than a form for human recognition or representation. Language might be better understood as something that operates but never communicates, that sorts, stores, or reproduces information but never transmits meaning. Miller makes a compelling case that the work that speech has historically done is in need of reevaluation. She severs the link between language and human as well as nonhuman agency, between speech acts and embodiment, and she demonstrates that current theories of electoral politics have missed a key issue: the nonhuman, informational character of threatening linguistic activity.
This book thus represents a radical methodological initiative not just for scholars of history and language but for specialists in law, political theory, political science, gender studies, semiotics, and science and technology studies. It takes posthumanist scholarship to an exciting and essential, if sometimes troubling, conclusion.
“It is an erudite work by a scholar of enormous talent, who advances a thesis that is richly insightful and deeply provocative.”
—Mary Hawkesworth, Rutgers University
Official Companion to the Library of Congress Exhibition.
The campaign for women’s suffrage—considered the largest reform movement in American history—lasted more than seven decades. The struggle was not for the fainthearted. For years, determined women organized, lobbied, paraded, petitioned, lectured, picketed, and faced imprisonment in pursuit of the right to vote. Drawing from the Library’s extensive collections of photographs, personal papers, and the organizational records of such figures as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Church Terrell, Carrie Chapman Catt, the National Woman’s Party, and the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Shall Not Be Denied traces the movement leading to the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, the contributions of suffragists who worked to persuade women that they deserved the same rights as men, the divergent political strategies and internal divisions they overcame, the push for a federal women’s suffrage amendment, and the legacy of the movement.
A companion to the exhibition staged by the Library of Congress, which opened on June 4, 2019—the 100th anniversary of the US Senate’s passage of the suffrage amendment that would become the 19th amendment—Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote is part of the national commemoration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
Published by Rutgers University Press in association with the Library of Congress.
Among nineteenth-century women’s rights reformers, Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) stands out for the maternal and secular advocacy that shaped her activism and public reception. A wife and mother of seven, she was also a prolific writer, transatlantic women’s rights leader, popular lecturer, congressional candidate, canny historian, and freethought champion. Her lifelong interest in women’s sexual and reproductive rights and late efforts to reform institutional religion are as relevant to our time as they were to her own.
Stanton’s professional life lasted a half-century, ranging from antebellum women’s rights organization and oratory, to a post–Civil War career as a lyceum lecturer, to a late-century role as an incisive religious and cultural critic. Acutely aware of the medical, religious, legal, and educational barriers to women’s independence, she advocated for married women’s right to vote, obtain a divorce, gain custody of their children, and own property. As she grew more radical over the years, she also demanded judicial reform, the separation of church and state, free love, progressive coeducational opportunities, and women’s right to limit their fertility.
In this richly contextualized collection of primary sources, Noelle A. Baker brings together accounts of Stanton’s life and ideas from both well-known and recently recovered figures. From the teacher chiding an assertive young woman to erstwhile allies worrying about her growing radicalism, their voices paint a vivid portrait of a woman of vaunting ambition, powerhouse intellect, and her share of human failings.
In the spring of 1916, as the workers for woman suffrage were laying plans for another attack on the bastions of male supremacy, the idea for The Sturdy Oak was born. Based on the rules of an old parlor game, wherein one person begins a narrative, another continues it, and another follows, this collaborative effort by the leading writers of the day, such as Fannie Hurst, Dorothy Canfield, and Kathleen Norris, is a satiric look at the gender roles of the time.
There is much in The Sturdy Oak that reflects the New York campaign for suffrage of 1916–1917. The setting is the fictional city of Whitewater in upstate New York. Idealistic reformers are pitted against a ruthless political machine, and the traditional picture of man as “the sturdy oak” supporting woman, “the clinging vine,” is ridiculed in the portrayal of an engaging couple, George and Genevieve Remington. Nonetheless, the purpose of the book is not primarily ridicule but reform, and the reader is taken through the steps by which a confirmed anti-suffragist is gradually transformed into a supporter of the suffrage cause.
Beyond its historical interest, The Sturdy Oak is imbued with a political and social currency that makes it applicable even today. And because of the skill of the writers of this composite novel, even eight decades after its initial publication The Sturdy Oak is still, as the New York Times said in 1917, “irresistibly readable.”
Jorgensen-Earp provides a new understanding of the recurrent rhetorical need to employ conservative rhetoric in support of a radical cause.
The Women's Social and Political Union, the militant branch of the English women's suffrage movement, turned to arson, bombing, and widespread property destruction as a strategy to achieve suffrage for women. Because of its comparative rarity, terrorist violence by reform (as opposed to revolutionary) movements is underexplored, as is the discursive rhetoric that accompanies this violence. Largely because of the moral stance that drives such movements, the need to justify violence is greater for the reformist than for the revolutionary terrorist. The burden of rhetorical justification falls even more heavily on women utilizing violence, an option
generally perceived as open only to men.
The militant suffragettes justifed their turn to limited terrorism by arguing that their violence was part of a "just war." Appropriating the rhetoric of a just war in defense of reformist violence
allowed the suffragettes to exercise a traditional rhetorical vision for the sake of radical action. The concept of a just war allowed a spinning out of a fantasy of heroes, of a gallant band fighting against the odds. It challenged the imagination of the public to extend to women a heroic vision usually reserved for men and to accept the new expectations inherent in that vision. By incorporating the concept of a just war into their rhetoric, the WSPU leaders took the most conventional justification that Western tradition provides for the use of violence and adapted it to meet their unique circumstance as women using violence for political reform.
This study challenges the common view that the suffragettes' use of military metaphors, their vilification of the government, and their violent attacks on property were signs of hysteria and self-destruction. Instead, what emerges is a picture of a deliberate, if controversial, strategy of violence supported by a rhetorical defense of unusual power and consistency.
“An opportunity to celebrate a truly diverse cohort of first-wave feminist changemakers.” —Ms.
“Her cast of characters usefully illustrates the geographic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic range of the suffrage movement.” —New Yorker
“Looks at 19 activists from around the country…revealing that the movement was made up of a wider and much more diverse group than is typically noted in the history books.” —Boston Globe
For far too long, the story of how American women won the right to vote has been told as the tale of a few iconic leaders, all white and native born. But Susan Ware uncovered a much broader and more diverse story waiting to be told. Why They Marched is a tribute to the women who worked tirelessly across the nation, out of the spotlight, protesting, petitioning, and insisting on their right to full citizenship. Ware shows how race, class and religion divided the movement even as she celebrates unheralded African American, Mormon, and Jewish activists.
The dramatic, often joyous experiences of these pioneering feminists resonate powerfully today, as a new generation of women demands to be heard.
Winner of the 2019 Gita Chaudhuri Prize
Winner of the 2019 Benjamin F. Shambaugh Award
Historian Sara Egge offers critical insights into the woman suffrage movement by exploring how it emerged in small Midwestern communities—in Clay County, Iowa; Lyon County, Minnesota; and Yankton County, South Dakota. Examining this grassroots activism offers a new approach that uncovers the sophisticated ways Midwestern suffragists understood citizenship as obligation.
These suffragists, mostly Yankees who migrated from the Northeast after the Civil War, participated enthusiastically in settling the region and developing communal institutions such as libraries, schools, churches, and parks. Meanwhile, as Egge’s detailed local study also shows, the efforts of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association did not always succeed in promoting the movement’s goals. Instead, it gained support among Midwesterners only when local rural women claimed the right to vote on the basis of their well-established civic roles and public service.
By investigating civic responsibility, Egge reorients scholarship on woman suffrage and brings attention to the Midwest, a region overlooked by most historians of the movement. In doing so, she sheds new light onto the ways suffragists rejuvenated the cause in the twentieth century.