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women's suffrage essay questions

Most Interesting Women’s Suffrage Topics to Write about

  • Partisan Competition and Women’s Suffrage in the United States
  • The First World War And The Woman’s Suffrage Movement In Britain
  • The Right To Vote For Women
  • Emily Stowe and the Canadian Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Reconstruction, Progressivism, Labor Unions, and the Suffrage of Women
  • Did Women’s Suffrage Alter the Size and Scope of Government?
  • Women’s Suffrage Movement Methods
  • The History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in the United States
  • Feminism In Latin America And Women’s Suffrage
  • California’s Political Practices, Women’s Suffrage, and Changes
  • Municipal Maintenance: The Effect of Women’s Suffrage on Public Education
  • Reconstruction Employing Black Suffrage And Women’s Rights
  • How Did the Women’s Suffrage Movement Change America?
  • National League Against Women’s Suffrage
  • The Women’s Suffrage Movement in United States History and the Right to Vote
  • Men, Women, and the Ballot
  • The Influence of Feminism on the Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Local Groups in Northwest Indiana Supporting Women’s Suffrage
  • The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Ireland
  • Historical Events Surrounding the American Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Connecting Women’s Suffrage and Education
  • Californian Women’s Suffrage During the 1912 Election
  • Women’s Suffrage Movement in the Progressive Era
  • Campaigns For Women’s Suffrage And Their Efficacy
  • National American Women’s Suffrage Association

Good Research Topics about Women’s Suffrage

  • The Motives Behind the Growth of the Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • The Emancipatory Role of Female Suffrage for Women Leaving the Playpen
  • The Arguments for and Against the Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Women’s Suffrage Movement and the American Legal System
  • Why Voting Rights for American Women Were Not Enough
  • Europe in the 19th Century and Women’s Suffrage
  • The Origins and Effects of the United States Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Gender Roles, Sexuality, And The Suffrage of Women
  • Frederick Douglass and The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage
  • Woman Suffrage: The Question of Voting Rights for Women
  • Life During the Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Women’s Suffrage and the Social Role of Women
  • Movement for Women’s Suffrage in the 20th Century
  • Women’s Suffrage and the National Political Movement in Chartism
  • The Struggle for Worldwide Women’s Suffrage
  • The Movement for Women’s Suffrage in Historical Perspective
  • The Democratic Deals of the Second Great Awakening and the Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • The 1870 Campaign for Women’s Suffrage
  • Women should Have the Right to Vote and Be Accorded the Same Respect as Males.
  • Temperance and Women’s Suffrage in the Early 20th Century
  • Women’s Enduring Struggle for Suffrage
  • Katie Stanton and Susan Anthony Gave Voice to Women’s Right to Vote.
  • How Did the Industrial Revolution Affect Women’s Right to Vote?

Research Questions About Women’s Suffrage

  • What Effects Does Women’s Suffrage Have in New Zealand?
  • When Did the Movement for Women’s Suffrage Begin and End?
  • What Was the Primary Objective of the Woman Suffrage Movement?
  • How Did World War I Influence Women’s Right to Vote?
  • Was Franklin D. Roosevelt for or Against the Suffrage of Women?
  • What Was the First Movement for Women’s Suffrage?
  • Who Put an End to Women’s Suffrage?
  • What Changed After Women Achieved Voting Rights?
  • What Results Did the Women’s Movement Achieve?
  • Which Amendment Permitted Women’s Suffrage?
  • Did President Franklin Pierce Support Women’s Suffrage?
  • Did Any States Vote Against Women’s Suffrage?
  • What Impact Did the Women’s Suffrage Movement Have?
  • What Was the Women’s Movement’s Greatest Accomplishment?
  • What Were the Causes and Effects of the American Women’s Suffrage Movement?
  • Did Women’s Suffrage Contribute to the Fall of Western Civilization?
  • When Did the Indian Women’s Suffrage Movement Begin?
  • Why Did the West Grant Women the Right to Vote before the East?
  • What Obstacles Did Women Face during the Suffrage Movement?
  • How Did the Civil Rights Act Affect Women’s Suffrage, and in What Ways Are They Similar?
  • Who Was the President during the Movement for Women’s Suffrage?
  • What Does Progress in the Women’s Suffrage Movement Cost?
  • How Did Irish Women Interact with the British Women’s Suffrage Movement?
  • Why Was the Women’s Suffrage Movement so Crucial?
  • What Were the Three Most Significant Events in the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • Who, and Why, Began the Women’s Suffrage Movement?
  • What Is Controversial about Women’s Right to Vote?
  • Why Was the Women’s Suffrage Movement Unsuccessful?
  • Which Party Supported Women’s Suffrage?
  • What Were the Major Concerns of the Women’s Movement?

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135 Women’s Rights Research Questions and Essay Topics

🏆 best topics related to women’s rights, ⭐ simple & easy essay topics on women’s issues, 📌 most interesting research topics on women’s issues, 👍 good women’s rights research paper topics, ❓ research questions about women’s rights.

Women’s rights essays are an excellent way to learn about the situation of the female gender throughout the world and demonstrate your knowledge.

You can cover historical women’s rights essay topics, such as the evolution of girl child education in various countries and regions or the different waves of the feminism movement.

Alternatively, you can study more current topics, such as the status of women in Islam or the debate about whether women’s rights apply to transgender women.

In either case, there is a multitude of ideas that you can express and discuss in your paper to make it engaging and thought-provoking. However, you should not neglect the basic aspects of writing an essay, especially its structure and presentation.

The thesis statement is critical to your essay’s structure, as it has to be at the center of each point you make. It should state the overall message or question of your paper comprehensively but concisely at the same time.

Afterwards, every point you make should directly or indirectly support the claim or answer the question, and you should make the relationship explicit for better clarity.

It is good practice to make the thesis a single sentence that does not rely on context, being fully self-sufficient, but avoids being excessively long.

As such, writing a good thesis is a challenging task that requires care and practice. Do not be afraid to spend additional time writing the statement and refining it.

It is beneficial to have a framework of how you will arrange topics and formulate your points so that they flow into one another and support the central thesis before you begin writing.

The practice will help you arrange transitional words and make the essay more coherent and connected as opposed to being an assortment of loosely associated statements.

To that end, you should write an outline, which deserves a separate discussion. However, the basics are simple: write down all of the ideas you want to discuss, discard the worst or fold them into other, broader topics until you have a handful left, and organize those in a logical progression.

Here are some additional tips for your structuring process:

  • Frame the ideas in your outline using self-explanatory and concise women’s rights essay titles. You can then use them to separate different points in your essay with titles that correspond to outline elements. The outline itself will effectively become a table of contents, saving you time if one is necessary.
  • Try to keep the discussion of each topic self-contained, without much reference to other matters you discussed in the essay. If there is a significant relationship, you should devote a separate section to it.
  • Do not forget to include an introduction and a conclusion in your paper. The introduction familiarizes the reader with the topic and ends with your thesis statement, setting the tone and direction of the essay. The conclusion sums up what you have written and adds some concluding remarks to finish. The introduction should not contain facts and examples beyond what is common knowledge in the field. The conclusion may not introduce new information beyond what has been stated in the essay.

You can find excellent women’s rights essay examples, useful samples, and more helpful tips on writing your essay at IvyPanda, so visit whenever you are having trouble or would like advice!

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  • The Role of African American Women in the Civil Right Movement The role of women in the Civil Rights Movement started to change in the 1960s. Women in the Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers.
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  • Debate Over Women’s Rights At times, the problem is that there is bias and discrimination about the strength of the woman and no chance has ever been given to them to prove if the allegation is wrong.
  • Women’s Roles and Rights in the 18-19th Century America We can only do the simplest work; we cannot have a good job because that is the men’s domain, and they have the necessary training to do it.
  • Women’s Rights in the Great Depression Period The pursuit of the workplace equality and the protection of women from unfair treatment by the employers were quite unsuccessful and slow due to the major division in the opinions.
  • Women’s Family and Social Responsibilities and Rights The uniqueness of Addams and Sanger’s approach to discussing the rights of females is in the fact that these authors discuss any social responsibilities of women as the key to improving their roles in the […]
  • Women in New France: Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities However, the development of New France was quite distinct due to peculiarities of the gender roles in the North America and France.
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  • Women in Colonial America: Fight for Rights Wives that happily accepted their role and conformed to Puritan societal standards were openly referred to and addressed as ‘goodwife.’ However, the authoritative figure in the family and throughout all facets of Puritan society was […]
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  • Women in Islam: Some Rights, No Equality Notwithstanding the principles of equality of men and women in Islamic tradition, women’s low status should be attributed not to the ideals set in the Quran but to the cultural norms of the patriarchal society.
  • Lucy Parsons as a Women’s Rights Advocate and Her Beliefs She was a believer in anarchism and thought that it was the means to liberty and freedom. She wanted the constitution to be amended to say that men and women are equal in all aspects.
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  • Catharine Beecher and Women’s Rights Catharine Beecher’s “An Appeal to American Women” is a discussion kind of piece that considers the power of women in office and how the issue should be approached.
  • Sojourner Truth – A Women’s Rights Activist and Abolitionist Sojourner Truth believed in truth, justice, and equality for all people, which made her escape slavery and advocate for women’s rights.
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  • Invisible Southern Black Women Leaders in the Civil Rights Movement Based on 36 personal interviews and multiple published and archived sources, the author demonstrates that black women in the South have played a prominent role in the struggle for their rights.
  • The Evolution of Women’s Rights Through American History From the property-owning women of the late 18th century to the proponents of the women’s liberation in the 1960s, women always succeeded in using the influential political theories of their time to eventually make feminist […]
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  • The Texas Abortion Law: A Signal of War on Women’s Rights and Bodies The purpose of this paper is to examine the structure and implications of the Texas Abortion Law in order to demonstrate its flaws.
  • The Women’s Rights Movement and Indigenous People In this article, the author addresses the differences between the Euro-American and Native American societies and the role of women in them.
  • Abortion and Women’s Right to Control Their Bodies However, the decision to ban abortions can be viewed as illegal, unethical, and contradicting the values of the 21st century. In such a way, the prohibition of abortion is a serious health concern leading to […]
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  • Abolition, Women’s Rights, and Temperance Movements Analysis Movements for the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, or the temperance movement were reflecting the current social problems, were enriched through the participation of women, and were generally based on the Christian values of diligence, […]
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  • Henrik Ibsen’s Description of Women’s Rights as Depicted in His Play, A Doll’s House
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  • The Women’s Rights Movement in England: 18th Century and Beyond
  • Comparing Cultures: the Development of Women’s Rights in China and Saudi Arabia
  • Mary Wollstonecraft and the Early Women’s Rights Movement
  • The Progression of Women’s Rights in the Middle East
  • Elizabeth Stanton’s Impact on Women’s Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Women’s Rights And Their Importance To The Development Of True Democracy
  • Women’s Rights Within A Thousand Splendid Suns By Khaled Hosseini
  • Every Woman Has Her Day: The Women’s Rights Movement in 19th Century
  • Evolution of Women’s Rights Since 19th Century
  • Integrating Equality – Globalization, Women’s Rights, Son Preference and Human Trafficking
  • Analysis of the View of Opinions of Authors Advocating for Women’s Rights
  • Abolition of Slavery is Conducive to Women’s Rights Movement
  • Women’s Rights Violations in Afghanistan
  • Feminism And Women’s Rights In Post Colonial Africa And France
  • Social Justice In America: Women’s Rights
  • Horace Walpole and Samuel Johnson, Champions of Women’s Rights
  • Muslims Women’s Rights to Practice Their Religion
  • Women’s Rights and Hills Like White Elephants
  • Rhetorical Analysis Of Hillary Clinton’s Speech, Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
  • Euripides Support of Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights In Afghanistan 1996 To The Present
  • Women’s Rights & Their Impact on the Development of Iran
  • Women’s Rights between 1750 and 1914
  • Exploring The Women’s Rights Movement With Good Man Is Hard To Find By Flannery O´Conner
  • Progressive Era: The Era Of Immigration, Race, And Women’s Rights
  • Women’s Rights in the United States in the 1700s
  • Which Countries Violate Women’s Rights?
  • What Was the Aim of the Women’s Movement?
  • How Did the Anti-slavery Movement Contribute to the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • Who Were the 4 Main Leaders of the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • How Does Gender Inequality Affect Women’s Rights?
  • Who Fought for Women’s Right to Work?
  • What Was the Biggest Women’s Rights Movement?
  • What Are the Colors for Women’s Rights?
  • Why Women’s Rights Lost Ground at the End of World War Two?
  • What Is the Role of Lesbians in the Women’s Movement?
  • How Far Women’s Rights Have Come?
  • What Laws Help Women’s Rights?
  • How Were the Abolition and Women’s Rights Movements Similar?
  • What Are the Most Important Events in Women’s Rights History?
  • Who Is Responsible for Women’s Rights?
  • What Is the History of Women’s Rights?
  • What Were 3 Major Events in the Women’s Rights Movement?
  • How Margaret Fuller and Fanny Fern Used Writing as a Weapon for Women’s Rights?
  • How Did Race Impact African American Women’s Experiences During the Women’s Suffrage Movement?
  • What Was the Cause of the First Woman’s Rights Convention?
  • Why Is Education Important for Women’s Rights?
  • How Are Women’s Rights Linked to Economic Development?
  • When Did the Women’s Rights Movement Start and End?
  • Why Did the Women’s Rights Movement Emerge in the USA During the 1950S and 1960S?
  • What Are Women’s Cultural Rights?
  • Who Was the First Black Women’s Rights Activist?
  • When Was the First Female Vote?
  • What Was the Movement for Women’s Rights in the 1800S?
  • Who Was the Black Woman Who Fought for Women’s Rights?
  • Who Was the Biggest Women’s Rights Activist?
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

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Leaving all to younger hands

The campaign to win passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote stands as one of the most significant and wide-ranging moments of political mobilization in all of American history. Among other outcomes, it produced the largest one-time increase in voters ever. As important as the goal of suffrage was, the struggle was always far broader than just the franchise, and it spoke to fundamental questions about women’s roles in politics and modern life: Who does the government permit to vote? What is the relationship between citizenship and suffrage? The suffragists challenged the political status quo at the time and in many ways can be thought of as the voting rights activists of their day. That observation is still true today as women approach their second century of full voting rights and leads us to explore why does the history of women’s suffrage matter?

The women’s suffrage movement always had a deep sense of its own history. In many ways, suffragists were our first women’s historians, none more so than Susan B. Anthony. When the fourth volume of the History of Woman Suffrage appeared in 1902, the 82-year-old Anthony looked back with pride at what the movement had accomplished, but she also looked forward to what still needed to be done, penning this inscription in her friend Caroline Healey Dall’s personal copy:

This closes the records of the 19th century of work done by and for women— what the 20th century will show—no one can foresee—but that it will be vastly more and better—we cannot fail to believe. But you & I have done the best we knew—and so must rest content—leaving all to younger hands. Your sincere friend and coworker, Susan B. Anthony. 1

When she wrote those words, Anthony had devoted more than 50 years to the women’s suffrage movement and victory was nowhere in sight. Yet she remained proud of what she and her co-workers had done for the cause, and confident that the future would bring even more progress. I suspect that the suffrage leaders who guided the movement to its successful conclusion on August 26, 1920, felt the same way.

Once the 19th Amendment passed, suffragists claimed a new moniker—that of women citizens.

“Shall Not Be Denied”

The 19th Amendment states that “the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” The amendment was originally introduced in Congress in 1878 but it took until 1919 before it enjoyed sufficient bipartisan support to pass the House of Representatives and the Senate. Then it needed to be ratified by the legislatures in three-fourths of the states. By March 1920, 35 states had ratified the amendment, but that left suffragists one short. In August, Tennessee put the amendment over the top, paving the way for women to vote in the 1920 presidential election.

Suffragists-turned-women-citizens

Once the 19th Amendment passed, suffragists claimed a new moniker—that of women citizens. In many ways the suffrage movement was an anomaly, the rare time when a broad coalition of women came together under one banner. In the post-suffrage era, politically engaged women embraced a wide variety of causes rather than remaining united around a single goal. Their political ideologies ran the gamut from progressive to moderate to conservative, but when it came to politics and public life, their message was clear: “We have come to stay.”

In this enlarged perspective, the suffrage victory is not a hard stop but part of a continuum of women’s political mobilization stretching not just between the iconic Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 and the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 but across all of American history. It is still appropriate, indeed welcome, to commemorate the centennial of the 19th Amendment as an important marker in American women’s history. But, rather than positioning 1920 as the end of the story, it is far more fruitful to see it as initiating the next stage in the history of women’s political activism—a story that is still unfolding.

Throughout American history, women have been dedicated political actors even without the vote. Women’s political history is far broader than the ratification of a single constitutional amendment.

Passage of the 19th Amendment: An incomplete victory

When thinking about the larger implications of the suffrage victory, we also need to remember that many women, especially those in Western states, were already voting in the years before the passage of the 19th Amendment. In addition, many women across the country enjoyed the right to vote on the local level in municipal elections and for school committees. Focusing too much on the 1920 milestone downplays the political clout that enfranchised women already exercised, as well as tends to overshadow women’s earlier roles as community builders, organization founders, and influence wielders. Throughout American history, women have been dedicated political actors even without the vote. Women’s political history is far broader than the ratification of a single constitutional amendment.

Celebrating the passage of the 19th Amendment also slights the plight of African American voters, for whom the 19th Amendment was at most a hollow victory. In 1920, the vast majority of African Americans still lived in the South, where their voting rights were effectively eliminated by devices such as whites-only primaries, poll taxes, and literacy tests. For Black Americans, it was the Voting Rights Act of 1965, not the 14th, 15th, or 19th Amendments, that finally removed the structural barriers to voting.

In a parallel disfranchisement, few Native American women gained the vote through the 19th Amendment. Not until 1924 did Congress pass legislation declaring that all Native Americans born in the United States were citizens, which cleared the way for tribal women to vote. But Native American women still faced ongoing barriers to voting on the state and local levels, especially in the West, as did Mexican Americans. Puerto Rican women did not gain the vote until 1935 and Chinese American women not until 1943. When assessing who can exercise the right to vote, it is always essential to ask who cannot.

Suffrage and feminism

Women’s demand for fair and equitable treatment in the political realm emerges as an integral part of the history of feminism. To protest women’s exclusion from voting demanded an assault on attitudes and ideologies that treated women as second-class citizens; to formulate that challenge involved conceptualizing women as a group whose collective situation needed to be addressed. Unfortunately, white suffragists often failed to realize they were speaking primarily from their own privileged class and race positions. The fact that certain groups of women, especially women of color, were often excluded from this supposedly universal vision demonstrates how racism intersected with feminism throughout the suffrage movement and its aftermath. Contemporary feminists have significantly broadened their commitment to recognizing the diversity of women’s experiences and worked hard to include multiple perspectives within the broader feminist framework, but it is still a struggle. The suffrage movement is part of that story, warts and all.

A global struggle

The history of women’s suffrage also reminds us that the struggle for the vote was a global phenomenon. Starting in the 1830s and 1840s, American and British abolitionists forged connections that influenced the early history of the suffrage movement. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott first met at an antislavery conference in London in 1840. Women’s international networks were especially vibrant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1888, the International Council of Women was founded to bring together existing women’s groups, primarily from North America and western Europe, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as its prime instigators. Its offshoot, the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, founded in Berlin in 1904 “to secure the enfranchisement of the women of all nations,” fed the growth of the women’s suffrage movement worldwide. Women today enjoy nearly universal access to the franchise, but it is a misnomer to say that women were “given” the vote. Just as in the United States, women around the globe had to fight for that right.

Empowered through solidarity

Participating in the suffrage campaign provided women with the kind of exhilaration and camaraderie often described by men in periods of war or political upheaval. Women were proud to be part of this great crusade, and they cherished the solidarity it engendered for the rest of their lives. Frances Perkins, a veteran of the New York suffrage campaign and the first woman to serve in the cabinet as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of labor, remembered it this way: “The friendships that were formed among women who were in the suffrage movement have been the most lasting and enduring friendships—solid, substantial, loyal—that I have ever seen anywhere. The women learned to like each other in that suffrage movement.” 2

Factions within the movement

The history of women’s suffrage also confirms the difficulty of maintaining unity in social movements. Women’s rights and abolition were closely allied before the Civil War, but that old coalition linking race and gender split irrevocably in the 1860s. The dispute was about who had priority: newly freed African American men or white women, who also wanted to be included in the post-Civil War expansion of political liberties represented by the 14th and 15th Amendments. Suffragists such as Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, and Julia Ward Howe had hoped for universal suffrage, but once the amendments were drafted, they supported ratification despite the exclusion of women. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton adamantly refused to support the amendments, often employing racist language to imply that white women were just as deserving of the vote as African American men, if not more so. By 1869 the suffrage movement had split in two over this question, not to reunite until 1890.

That split was both strategic and philosophical, as was the one in the 1910s between Carrie Chapman Catt’s mainstream National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and Alice Paul’s upstart National Woman’s Party (NWP). Catt’s much larger group tended to favor a state-by-state approach, while Paul and her supporters focused on winning a federal amendment. In addition, NAWSA was committed to working within the system while the NWP took to the streets, silently picketing the White House to express their outrage at women’s voteless status. In the end both sides were necessary to win ratification, just as the 19th century split had allowed competing personalities with different approaches to advance the movement in their own ways.

It is a misnomer to say that women were “given” the vote. Just as in the United States, women around the globe had to fight for that right.

Toward the future of equality in practice as well as in law

By the early 20th century, women had already moved far beyond the domestic sphere and boldly entered public life, yet a fundamental responsibility and privilege of citizenship—the right to vote—was arbitrarily denied to half the population. The 19th Amendment changed that increasingly untenable situation, representing a breakthrough for American women as well as a major step forward for American democracy. The wave of female candidates in the 2018 midterm elections and the unprecedented number of women who ran for president in 2020 built directly on the demands for fair and equitable access to the political realm articulated by the women’s suffrage movement.

Historian Anne Firor Scott provides an especially evocative image of how winning the vote was part of larger changes in women’s lives and in American society more broadly: “Suffrage was a tributary flowing into the rich and turbulent river of American social development. That river is enriched by the waters of each tributary, but with the passage of time it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish the special contributions of any one of the tributaries.” 3 Think of the contributions of the hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file women who participated in the fight to win the vote as the tributaries that make up suffrage history. And then think of suffrage history as a powerful strand in the larger stream of American history, which is richer and stronger because it heeded Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s prescient statement at Seneca Falls that all men and women are created equal. While the United States still lacks truly universal suffrage and gender equity remains a widely debated issue, the 19th Amendment represented a giant step toward both goals and left a firm constitutional foundation for future progress. When Susan B. Anthony talked about “leaving all to younger hands,” I like to think this is what she had in mind.

  • This inscribed volume is found in the collections of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
  • Susan Ware, Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2019), p. 280.
  • Anne Firor Scott, “Epilogue,” in Jean H. Baker, ed., Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 194.

About the Author

As is the case of all Brookings publications, the conclusions and recommendations presented in this article are solely those of its authors and do not reflect the views of the Brookings Institution, its management, or its scholars.

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Women’s Suffrage

By: History.com Editors

Updated: February 20, 2024 | Original: October 29, 2009

Suffragettes Marching with Signs(Original Caption) New York: New York Society Woman Suffragettes as sandwich men advertise a mass meeting to be addressed by the Governor of the Suffrage states. Photograph.

The women’s suffrage movement was a decades-long fight to win the right to vote for women in the United States. It took activists and reformers nearly 100 years to win that right, and the campaign was not easy: Disagreements over strategy threatened to cripple the movement more than once. But on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, enfranchising all American women and declaring for the first time that they, like men, deserve all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Women’s Rights Movement Begins

The campaign for women’s suffrage began in earnest in the decades before the Civil War . During the 1820s and '30s, most states had extended the franchise to all white men, regardless of how much money or property they had.

At the same time, all sorts of reform groups were proliferating across the United States— temperance leagues , religious movements, moral-reform societies, anti- slavery organizations—and in many of these, women played a prominent role.

Meanwhile, many American women were beginning to chafe against what historians have called the “Cult of True Womanhood”: that is, the idea that the only “true” woman was a pious, submissive wife and mother concerned exclusively with home and family.

Put together, all of these contributed to a new way of thinking about what it meant to be a woman and a citizen of the United States.

Seneca Falls Convention

In 1848, a group of abolitionist activists—mostly women, but some men—gathered in Seneca Falls, New York to discuss the problem of women’s rights. They were invited there by the reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott .

Most of the delegates to the Seneca Falls Convention agreed: American women were autonomous individuals who deserved their own political identities.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” proclaimed the Declaration of Sentiments that the delegates produced, “that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

What this meant, among other things, was that they believed women should have the right to vote.

Civil Rights and Women's Rights During the Civil War

During the 1850s, the women’s rights movement gathered steam, but lost momentum when the Civil War began. Almost immediately after the war ended, the 14th Amendment and the 15th Amendment to the Constitution raised familiar questions of suffrage and citizenship.

The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, extends the Constitution’s protection to all citizens—and defines “citizens” as “male”; the 15th, ratified in 1870, guarantees Black men the right to vote.

Some women’s suffrage advocates believed that this was their chance to push lawmakers for truly universal suffrage. As a result, they refused to support the 15th Amendment and even allied with racist Southerners who argued that white women’s votes could be used to neutralize those cast by African Americans.

In 1869, a new group called the National Woman Suffrage Association was founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. They began to fight for a universal-suffrage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Others argued that it was unfair to endanger Black enfranchisement by tying it to the markedly less popular campaign for female suffrage. This pro-15th-Amendment faction formed a group called the American Woman Suffrage Association and fought for the franchise on a state-by-state basis.

Gallery: The Progressive Campaign for Suffrage

women's suffrage essay questions

This animosity eventually faded, and in 1890 the two groups merged to form the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the organization’s first president.

By then, the suffragists’ approach had changed. Instead of arguing that women deserved the same rights and responsibilities as men because women and men were “created equal,” the new generation of activists argued that women deserved the vote because they were different from men.

They could make their domesticity into a political virtue, using the franchise to create a purer, more moral “maternal commonwealth.”

This argument served many political agendas: Temperance advocates, for instance, wanted women to have the vote because they thought it would mobilize an enormous voting bloc on behalf of their cause, and many middle-class white people were swayed once again by the argument that the enfranchisement of white women would “ensure immediate and durable white supremacy, honestly attained.”

Did you know? In 1923, the National Woman's Party proposed an amendment to the Constitution that prohibited all discrimination on the basis of sex. The so-called Equal Rights Amendment has never been ratified.

Winning the Vote at Last

Starting in 1910, some states in the West began to extend the vote to women for the first time in almost 20 years. Idaho and Utah had given women the right to vote at the end of the 19th century.

Still, southern and eastern states resisted. In 1916, NAWSA president Carrie Chapman Catt unveiled what she called a “Winning Plan” to get the vote at last: a blitz campaign that mobilized state and local suffrage organizations all over the country, with a special focus on those recalcitrant regions.

Meanwhile, a splinter group called the National Woman’s Party founded by Alice Paul focused on more radical, militant tactics—hunger strikes and White House pickets, for instance—aimed at winning dramatic publicity for their cause.

World War I slowed the suffragists’ campaign but helped them advance their argument nonetheless: Women’s work on behalf of the war effort, activists pointed out, proved that they were just as patriotic and deserving of citizenship as men.

Finally, on August 18, 1920 , the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. And on November 2 of that year, more than 8 million women across the United States voted in elections for the first time.

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Educator Resources

National Archives Logo

Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change in the Constitution – guaranteeing women the right to vote. Some suffragists used more confrontational tactics such as picketing, silent vigils, and hunger strikes. Read more...

Primary Sources

Links go to DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.

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In the second decade of the 20th century, woman suffragists began staging large and dramatic parades to draw attention to their cause. In 1913, more than 5,000 suffragists from around the country paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.

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During World War I, suffragists tried to embarrass President Woodrow Wilson into reversing his opposition and supporting a federal woman suffrage amendment.

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The National Woman’s Party (NWP) organized the first White House picket in U.S. history in January of 1917. It lasted nearly three years.

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The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), formed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, sent this 1871 petition to Congress requesting that suffrage rights be extended to women and that women be heard on the floor of Congress.

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The American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), founded by Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, sent this 1872 petition to Congress asking that women in DC and the territories be allowed to vote and hold office.

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This indictment charged Susan B. Anthony with "wrongfully and unlawfully" voting in the 1872 election in Rochester, NY, "being...a person of the female sex." She was one of several women arrested for illegally voting.

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Frederick Douglass's son, daughter, and son-in-law signed this 1878 petition to Congress in favor of woman suffrage, along with other residents of the District of Columbia .

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In this 1916 resolution, "Rhode Island Union Colored Women's Clubs" asked Congress to secure a federal woman suffrage amendment. African American women organized women’s clubs across the country to advocate for suffrage, among other reforms.

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Some women fought for decades for the right to vote. In 1917, Mary O. Stevens, a former Civil War nurse, sent this letter to Rep. Edwin Webb, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which held hearings on women's suffrage. 

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There was strong opposition to enfranchising women. This 1917 petition from the Women Voters Anti-Suffrage Party of New York urged the Senate not to pass a federal suffrage amendment giving women the right to vote .

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This Congressional resolution, passed in 1919, proposed extending the right to vote to women and became the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

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This 1920 statement verified that Tennessee had ratified the 19th Amendment. Tennessee was the 36th state to ratify, crossing the three-fourths-of-states threshold needed to clinch passage of the amendment.

Teaching Activities

Women's Rights DocsTeach Page

The Women's Rights page on DocsTeach includes document-based teaching activities and primary sources related to women's rights and changing roles in American history – including women's suffrage, political involvement, citizenship rights, roles during the world wars, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), and more.

Women's Rights DocsTeach Page

Failure is Impossible  is a play that brings to life the facts and emotions of the momentous struggle for voting rights for women. It was first performed in 1995, as part of commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the 19th amendment at the National Archives. The story is told through the voices of Abigail Adams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Frances Gage, Clara Barton, and Carrie Chapman Catt, among others .  The script is available for educational uses.

Image: Suffrage Parade in New York City, ca. 1912

Additional Background Information

In July 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott organized the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY. The Seneca Falls Convention produced a list of demands called the Declaration of Sentiments. Modeled on the Declaration of Independence, it called for broader educational and professional opportunities for women and the right of married women to control their wages and property. After this historic gathering, women’s voting rights became a central issue in the emerging debate about women’s rights in the United States.

Many of the attendees to the convention were also abolitionists whose goals included universal suffrage – the right to vote for all adults. In 1870 this goal was partially realized when the 15th amendment to the Constitution, granting black men the right to vote, was ratified. Woman suffragists' vehement disagreement over supporting the 15th Amendment, however, resulted in a "schism" that split the women's suffrage movement into two new suffrage organizations that focused on different strategies to win women voting rights.

The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) was formed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in May of 1869 – they opposed the 15th amendment because it excluded women. In the year following the ratification of the 15th amendment, the NWSA sent a voting rights petition to the Senate and House of Representatives requesting that suffrage rights be extended to women and that women be granted the privilege of being heard on the floor of Congress.

The second national suffrage organization established in 1869 was the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), founded by Lucy Stone, Julia Ward Howe, and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. The AWSA supported the 15th Amendment and protested the confrontational tactics of the NWSA. The AWSA concentrated on gaining women’s access to the polls at state and local levels, in the belief that victories there would gradually build support for national action on the issue. While a federal woman suffrage amendment was not their priority, an 1871 petition, asking that women in DC and the territories be allowed to vote and hold office, from AWSA leadership to Congress reveals its support for one.

In 1890, the NWSA and AWSA merged into the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). It became the largest woman suffrage organization in the country and led much of the struggle for the vote through 1920, when the 19th Amendment was ratified. Stanton became its president; Anthony became its vice president; and Stone became chairman of the executive committee. In 1919, one year before women gained the right to vote with the adoption of the 19th amendment, the NAWSA reorganized into the League of Women Voters.

The tactics used by suffragists went beyond petitions and memorials to Congress. Testing another strategy, Susan B. Anthony registered and voted in the 1872 election in Rochester, NY. As planned, she was arrested for "knowingly, wrongfully and unlawfully vot[ing] for a representative to the Congress of the United States." She was convicted by the State of New York and fined $100, which she insisted she would never pay. On January 12, 1874, Anthony petitioned Congress, requesting "that the fine imposed upon your petitioner be remitted, as an expression of the sense of this high tribunal that her conviction was unjust."

Wealthy white women were not the only supporters of women's suffrage. Frederick Douglass, formerly enslaved and leader of the abolition movement, was also an advocate. He attended the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. In an editorial published that year in The North Star , the anti-slavery newspaper he published, he wrote, "...in respect to political rights,...there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the elective franchise,..." By 1877, when he was U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia, Douglass's family was also involved in the movement. His son, Frederick Douglass, Jr.; daughter, Mrs. Nathan Sprague; and son-in-law, Nathan Sprague, all signed a petition to Congress for woman suffrage "...to prohibit the several States from Disfranchising United States Citizens on account of Sex."

A growing number of black women actively supported women's suffrage during this period. They organized women’s clubs across the country to advocate for suffrage, among other reforms. Prominent African American suffragists included Ida B. Wells-Barnett of Chicago, a leading crusader against lynching; Mary Church Terrell, educator and first president of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW); and Adella Hunt Logan, Tuskegee Institute faculty member, who insisted in articles in The Crisis , a publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), that if white women needed the vote to protect their rights, then black women – victims of racism as well as sexism – needed the ballot even more.

In the second decade of the 20th century, suffragists began staging large and dramatic parades to draw attention to their cause. One of the most consequential demonstrations was a march held in Washington, DC, on March 3, 1913. Though controversial because of the march organizers' attempt to exclude, then segregate, women of color, more than 5,000 suffragists from around the country paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue from the U.S. Capitol to the Treasury Building.

Many of the women who had been active in the suffrage movement in the 1860s and 1870s continued their involvement over 50 years later. In 1917, Mary O. Stevens, secretary and press correspondent of the Association of Army Nurses of the Civil War, asked the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee to help the cause of woman suffrage by explaining: "My father trained me in my childhood days to expect this right. I have given my help to the agitation, and work[ed] for its coming a good many years."

During World War I, suffragists tried to embarrass President Woodrow Wilson into reversing his opposition and supporting a federal woman suffrage amendment. But in the heated patriotic climate of wartime, such tactics met with hostility and sometimes violence and arrest. Frustrated with the suffrage movement’s leadership, Alice Paul had broken with the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) to form the National Woman’s Party (NWP). It employed more militant tactics to agitate for the vote.

Most notably, the NWP organized the first White House picket in U.S. history on January 10, 1917. They stood vigil at the White House, demonstrating in silence six days a week for nearly three years. The "Silent Sentinels" let their banners – comparing the President to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany – speak for them. Many of the sentinels were arrested and jailed in deplorable conditions. Some incarcerated women went on hunger strikes and endured forced feedings. The Sentinels' treatment gained greater sympathy for women's suffrage, and the courts later dismissed all charges against them.

When New York adopted woman suffrage in 1917 and President Woodrow Wilson changed his position to support an amendment in 1918, the political balance began to shift in favor of the vote for women. There was still strong opposition to enfranchising women, however, as illustrated by petitions from anti-suffrage groups.

Eventually suffragists won the political support necessary for ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For 42 years, the measure had been introduced at every session of Congress, but ignored or voted down. It finally passed Congress in 1919 and went to the states for ratification. In May, the House of Representatives passed it by a vote of 304 to 90; two weeks later, the Senate approved it 56 to 25.

Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were the first states to ratify it. On August 18, 1920, it appeared that Tennessee had ratified the amendment – the result of a change of vote by 24 year-old legislator Harry Burn at the insistence of his elderly mother. But those against the amendment managed to delay official ratification. Anti-suffrage legislators fled the state to avoid a quorum, and their associates held massive anti-suffrage rallies and attempted to convince pro-suffrage legislators to oppose ratification. However, Tennessee reaffirmed its vote and delivered the crucial 36th ratification necessary for final adoption. While decades of struggle to include African Americans and other minority women in the promise of voting rights remained, the face of the American electorate had changed forever.

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Women’s suffrage is the right of women by law to vote in national or local elections.

Women were excluded from voting in ancient Greece and republican Rome, as well as in the few democracies that had emerged in Europe by the end of the 18th century. When the franchise was widened, as it was in the United Kingdom in 1832, women continued to be denied all voting rights. The question of women’s voting rights finally became an issue in the 19th century, and the struggle was particularly intense in Great Britain and the United States. By the early years of the 20th century, women had won the right to vote in national elections in New Zealand (1893), Australia (1902), Finland (1906), and Norway (1913).

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, Emmeline Pankhurst, Carrie Chapman Catt, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Lucy Burns.

Saudi Arabia gave women the right to vote in 2015, leaving Vatican City as the only place where women’s suffrage is still denied today. The U.N. first explicitly named women’s suffrage as a human right in 1979. Not all suffragists were women, and not all anti-suffragists were men. Susan B. Anthony (and 15 other women) voted illegally in the presidential election of 1872

1. Ramirez, F. O., Soysal, Y., & Shanahan, S. (1997). The changing logic of political citizenship: Cross-national acquisition of women's suffrage rights, 1890 to 1990. American sociological review, 735-745. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2657357) 2. Miller, G. (2008). Women's suffrage, political responsiveness, and child survival in American history. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(3), 1287-1327. (https://academic.oup.com/qje/article-abstract/123/3/1287/1928181) 3. Smith, H. L. (2014). The British Women's Suffrage Campaign 1866-1928: Revised 2nd Edition. Routledge. (https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781315833569/british-women-suffrage-campaign-1866-1928-harold-smith) 4. Abrams, B. A., & Settle, R. F. (1999). Women's suffrage and the growth of the welfare state. Public Choice, 100(3-4), 289-300. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1018312829025) 5. Rover, C. (2019). Women's Suffrage and Party Politics in Britain, 1866–1914. In Women's Suffrage and Party Politics in Britain, 1866–1914. University of Toronto Press. (https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.3138/9781487575250/html?lang=de) 6. McCammon, H. J., & Campbell, K. E. (2001). Winning the vote in the West: The political successes of the women's suffrage movements, 1866-1919. Gender & Society, 15(1), 55-82. (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/089124301015001004?journalCode=gasa) 7. Cockroft, I., & Croft, S. (2010). Art, Theatre and Women's Suffrage. Twickenham: Aurora Metro. (https://www.thesuffragettes.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/PR-Art-Theatre.pdf) 8. Towns, A. (2010). The Inter-American Commission of Women and Women's Suffrage, 1920–1945. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-latin-american-studies/article/interamerican-commission-of-women-and-womens-suffrage-19201945/D6536EB4143959408AEEEF48380A29BD Journal of Latin American Studies, 42(4), 779-807.

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Images from Schlesinger Library

 Louise Hall speaking from the back of the vehicle holding the Liberty Bell and a "Votes for Women" banner during a suffrage campaign stop in Pennsylvania, 1915.

Materials from this portion of the guide were found by searching  HOLLIS , Harvard's online library catalog, for " suffrage ," as well as sub-topic specific search terms like "voting rights," "votes for women," "suffrage organizations," etc.

Materials on this page are organized into the following categories:

  • Suffragists
  • Anti-Suffrage
  • Suffrage Organizations

Publications

Researchers may also be interested in the Schlesinger Library's research guides on Women's Suffrage  and  Radcliffe College Suffrage .

The Schlesinger Library has also created the  Long 19th Amendment Portal , a digital portal that facilitates interdisciplinary, transnational scholarship and innovative teaching around the history of gender and voting rights in the United States. Researchers can search for digitized material from over 40 repositories, investigate data on women's political participation, or explore essays, exhibits, and collaborations on the topic of suffrage. This resource is open-access and entirely online.

Archival Collections: Suffragists

  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) Best known for her lifelong crusade for woman's suffrage, Anthony was first active in the temperance and anti-slavery movements. In May 1869 she organized the National Woman Suffrage Association, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as president. From 1891 to 1900, she was the second president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. There are many collections of Susan B. Anthony's papers held at the Schlesinger Library, all of which are available online in the Susan B. Anthony Digital Collection.
  • Blackwell Family The most prominent members of the Blackwell family were renowned for their involvement in a variety of political and social activism. Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell were among the earliest women doctors, while their brother Henry Browne Blackwell, his wife, Lucy Stone, and his daughter, Alice Stone Blackwell, were known for their leading roles in the abolition, women suffrage, and prohibition movements. Their sister-in-law, Antoinette Louisa Blackwell, was the first woman ordained as minister in the United States and was an active speaker on behalf of abolition, women's rights, and prohibition. The collection contains correspondence, diaries, reminiscences, biographical and other writings, among materials. There are a number of Blackwell Family collections at the Schlesinger. Digitized materials are available online in the Blackwell Family Digital Collection.
  • Olympia Brown (1835-1926) Olympia Brown became the first American woman to be ordained by full denominational authority when she was ordained by the St. Lawrence Association of Universalists in 1863. She was also active in the suffrage movement, primarily in Wisconsin and then on a national level. In 1868 Brown helped found the New England Woman’s Suffrage Association, the first suffrage organization in the United States. She also joined the Congressional Union (later the National Woman’s Party) and distributed suffrage material in front of President Wilson’s White House. After the passage of the School Suffrage Law in Wisconsin in 1885, Brown cast a vote in November of 1887, but her vote was rejected and her case went to court. Brown argued on her own behalf and won, but the decision was repealed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This collection has been digitized in its entirety, and the material is available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Olympia Brown.
  • Mary Ware Dennett (1872-1947) Suffragist, pacifist, artisan, and advocate of birth control and sex education, Mary Ware Dennett was a founder of the National Birth Control League, director of the Voluntary Parenthood League and editor of the Birth Control Herald . Attracted to organizations seeking a broader distribution of wealth and power, she worked for women’s suffrage, the single tax, proportional representation, and free trade. Some of the materials from this collection have been digitized, and made available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Mary Ware Dennett .
  • Margaret Foley (1875-1957) Margaret Foley worked as a speaker and manager of organization work for the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association from 1906 to 1915. Foley, along with other young Massachusetts suffragists, was inspired by the militant tactics of suffragists in England and undertook open-air speaking tours in 1909. When she and others trailed Republican candidates through Western Massachusetts publicly questioning their suffrage views, newspapers labeled her a “heckler.” Foley never married and probably lived with her long-time friend and fellow suffragist, Helen Elizabeth Goodnow, for many years. Some relevant materials have been digitized, and are available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Margaret Foley.
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a socialist, deist, independent thinker, and author who was an intellectual leader of the women’s movement from the late 1890s to the 1920s. An advocate of economic independence for women, Gilman considered the ballot of secondary importance. Her interests ranged from sensible dress for women, physical fitness, more rational domestic architecture, and professionalized housework, to birth control, Freud, and immigrants. The Schlesinger holds a wide breadth of material related to Gilman, much of which has been digitized. Please see the Charlotte Perkins Gilman research guide for more information about accessing the digitized materials.
  • Hazel Hunkins-Hallinan (1890-1982) Hazel Hunkins-Hallinan was born in Aspen, Colorado, in 1890. Denied the opportunity to teach chemistry and physics because she was a woman, she was inspired to join the National Woman’s Party. She became a prominent figure in the picket lines in front of the White House, which led to her arrest and imprisonment in the Occoquan Workhouse, where she and other suffragists participated in a hunger strike. In addition to being a journalist, she was also the author of a children’s book, The Story of America and the editor of In Her Own Right , a collection of feminist essays. One item from the collection, a conversation with Alice Paul, has been digitized, and is available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Hazel Hunkins-Hallinan.
  • Harriet Burton Laidlow (1873-1949) Throughout her life, Harriet Burton Laidlaw was a suffragist, social and civic reformer, and internationalist. Her concern with women’s rights blossomed into her remarkably active involvement in a variety of causes and organizations. This life of public service is reflected in her participation with many suffrage organizations including the College Equal Suffrage League, National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and the New York State Woman Suffrage Association/Party. Many materials from this collection have been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Harriet Burton Laidlaw .
  • Catharine Waugh McCulloch (1862-1945) Both a suffragist and a lawyer, McCulloch served as the legislative superintendent of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association. She was also active in the movement for women’s rights, seeking state legislation permitting woman suffrage in presidential and local elections not constitutionally limited to male voters, a bill that passed in 1913. She served as legal adviser and as first vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. She was also instrumental in the passage of Illinois legislation granting women equal rights in the guardianship of their children and raising the legal age of consent for women from fourteen to sixteen. Part of the collection has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Catharine Waugh McCulloch .
  • Helen Brewster Owens (1881-1968) Helen Brewster Owens was both a mathematician and a suffragist. Her mother, Clara (Linton) Brewster, a teacher, was president of the Linn County Women’s Suffrage Association in Kansas, and as a young girl, Owens would help her mother distribute suffrage literature at the county fair. Owens went on to serve as chair of the Resolution Committee for the New York State Woman Suffrage Association. She also organized the College Equal Suffrage League at Cornell and was a paid organizer and chair of the Sixth Judicial District for the Empire State Campaign Committee. Much of the collection has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Helen Brewster Owens .
  • Alice Park (1861-1961) A socialist, vegetarian, pacifist, founder of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and campaigner for women's rights, Alice Park wrote the California law, passed in 1913, granting women equal rights of guardianship over their children. Through her connections with many women's rights organizations, Park acquired a library of feminist books, as well as buttons, leaflets, and posters. This collection includes 55 different posters of the women's suffrage movement collected by Alice Park. Most are British, two are from the international congresses she attended, and eleven are American. Most of the objects in the collection have been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Poster Collection of Alice Park .
  • Maud Wood Park (1871-1955) [in Woman's Rights Collection] Maud Wood Park graduated from Radcliffe College in 1898 and was active in suffrage and civic work in Boston for more than fifteen years. With Inez Haynes Gilmore, she organized the first chapter of the College Equal Suffrage League in 1900 and during the next eight years worked to establish local chapters in Massachusetts, New York, and the Midwest. Following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Park served as the first president of the National League of Women Voters. She prepared and donated a large body of material on the suffrage movement and on women after 1920 to Radcliffe College in 1943. This collection, called the Woman’s Rights Collection, formed the nucleus of the Women’s Archives, later the Schlesinger Library. Much of the collection has been digitized, and made available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Maud Wood Park in the Woman's Rights Collection.
  • Alice Paul (1885-1977) Quaker, lawyer, and lifelong activist for women's rights, Alice Paul was educated at Swarthmore and the University of Pennsylvania, where her doctoral dissertation was on the legal status of women in Pennsylvania. While furthering her education in England she was active in the Women's Social and Political Union and was arrested and jailed repeatedly as a participant in the campaign for women's rights. Returning to the United States in 1910, Paul was appointed chair of the Congressional Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1912. It campaigned for the passage of a federal amendment and for a time functioned concurrently with the new Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, founded by Alice Paul in April 1913. She later founded the National Woman's Party, and the World Woman's Party in Geneva, Switzerland. The papers document her work for the National Woman's Party and the World Woman's Party. There is a vast amount of digital material available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Alice Paul.
  • Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) A minister, physician, lecturer, and suffragist, Anna Howard Shaw became increasingly convinced that the problems she encountered in her ministry and as a physician could not be solved without major political and social reforms, and that obtaining the vote for women was a necessary first step. Shaw’s oratorical skills surrounding the suffrage and temperance movements were legendary. In 1913, the National Anti-Suffrage Association forbade its members to engage in any further debate with her. She served as the vice president and the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association as well as acting as the chair of the Woman’s Committee of the U.S. Council of National Defense. Some of the material in the collection has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Anna Howard Shaw.
  • Edna Lamprey Stantial (1897-1985) Edna Lamprey Stantial was secretary of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government from 1916 to 1920 and was reportedly its youngest member. After the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing woman suffrage, she became executive secretary of the Boston League of Women Voters until 1924. She became close to Maud Wood Park and Alice Stone Blackwell through her political activity. Stantial was extremely organized as well as dedicated to the cause of women’s history. She helped Park gather the papers she gave to Radcliffe College in 1943 that formed the Woman’s Rights Collection, and she was named archivist of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1950. Much of the collection has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Papers of Edna Lamprey Stantial.
  • Doris Stevens (1888-1963) Stevens was active in organizations for the advancement of women both in the United States and internationally. She was a suffrage organizer, a member of the National Woman's Party and the Lucy Stone League, and served as chair of the Inter-American Commission of Women (1928-1939). In 1931 Stevens became the first woman member of the American Institute of International Law. She was also an author and composer. The collection includes correspondence, diaries, manuscripts of her books, articles, speeches, and stories, among many other materials that document her work for women's suffrage. The vast majority of the collection has been digitized and is avaialble in the online finding aid for the Papers of Doris Stevens.

Archival Collections: Anti-Suffrage

  • Anna Child Bird (1858-1942) [in Alice Stone Blackwell] This collection consists of one autograph letter signed from Alice Stone Blackwell to Anna Child Bird referencing Bird's voting as a presidential elector and mentioning anti-suffragists as electors, including Elizabeth Lowell Putnam. The letter is available online via Harvard Mirador Viewer. Other materials related to Alice Stone Blackwell and her family have been digitized and made available in the Blackwell Family Papers Digital Collection.
  • Leon J. Sompolinsky Leon J. Sompolinsky worked at the Bentley Historical Library and authored an unpublished article, "A Selected Bibliography of the Movement Opposed to Woman Suffrage" (1977), which makes up the contents of this collection. It has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Bibliography.
  • Adeline Dutton Train Whitney (1824-1906) Adeline Dutton Train Whitney was an author and an opponent of women's suffrage. This collection is made up of a letter to Dr. Vose, probably George L. Vose, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, asserting that a woman's place is in the home. The letter has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the letter from Whitney.
  • Suffrage Miscellany [in Mary Earhart Dillon Papers] Historian and educator, Dillon was a native of Illinois and earned a Ph.D. at Northwestern University in 1940. She was later a professor of political science at Queens College in New York. Dillon assembled this collection of records relating to women's suffrage, education, and legal status from her personal and professional acquaintances. The material in this collection has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Suffrage Miscellany , including a number of anti-suffrage cartoons.

Archival Collections: Organizations

  • Cambridge Political Equality Association [Woman's Rights Collection] The Cambridge Political Equality Association (CPEA) was founded in 1896 "to extend study and discussion with a view to securing political equality for American citizens." Although the main focus was suffrage for women, CPEA also studied African-American suffrage and proportional representation. In addition to sponsoring meetings and lectures, CPEA helped organize suffrage rallies and parades and raised money for woman suffrage through bazaars and rummage sales. It also worked with the Cambridge Woman Suffrage Party and other organizations, encouraging women to register and to vote in school committee elections. CPEA later became part of the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. The vast majority of the collection has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Records of the CPEA.
  • Hartford Equal Franchise League This collection consists of a printed leaflet entitled "Hartford's City Council and Commercialized Vice." The leaflet contains a photograph of an alleged "house of ill-fame," points to City Council members who refused to support efforts to close down such houses, and contrasts the plight of Hartford women unable to vote against these members with women in Seattle who were able to elect pro-reform candidates. The leaflet has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the leaflet.
  • Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women The Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women was formed on May 21, 1895, to "increase public interest in the great question of the extension of Suffrage to women, and to stimulate public opinion in opposition to it." This group was also known as the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Extension of Suffrage to Women and later known as the Women’s Anti-Suffrage Association of Massachusetts. The collection consists of a letter regarding membership from 1907, which has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Letter of the Association. The Schlesinger Library also offers open online access to the first annual report of the Association , and to the 1913 issue of The Remonstrance , also issued by the Association.
  • National American Woman Suffrage Association's Woman's Journal [in Woman's Rights Collection] Lucy Stone and her husband, Henry Browne Blackwell, founded the Woman's Journal , a weekly newspaper, in 1870. In addition to sales and subscriptions, the Woman's Journal relied on contributions to produce a newspaper national in both scope and readership. Between 1908 and 1915 circulation jumped from 2,400 to 27,600. In the early 1910s, suffragists sold the newspaper on Boston Common. The Woman's Journal hired Margaret Foley, a popular suffrage speaker, to travel throughout the South and Midwest promoting the journal. At its founding, the Woman's Journal absorbed the Woman's Advocate and until 1912 the journal was subtitled "official organ of the National American Woman Suffrage Association." All issues of the Woman's Journal have been digitized and made available online.
  • New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was founded in 1897. This collection includes pamphlets, speeches, and newsletters. It has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the New York Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.
  • Ohio Woman Suffrage Association The Ohio Woman Suffrage Association was formed in 1885 when a number of smaller, like-minded Ohio organizations merged. This collection includes the minutes of an Executive Committee meeting held in 1899 in Akron, Ohio, as well as reports on speeches by Carrie Chapman Catt. The collection has been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the notebook.
  • Woman Suffrage Study Club The Woman Suffrage Study Club was formed by Gertrude Foster Brown in New York in 1909 to study topics relating to women's suffrage and women's rights. The minutes of the Club have been digitized and made available in the online finding aid for the Minutes of the Woman Suffrage Study Club.
  • Biennial Report of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association for Good Government The Schlesinger Library provides open online access to the fifth report of BESAGG , published in 1910.
  • Woman's Journal Alternatively titled Woman's Journal and Suffrage News , this journal was published weekly, and edited by Alice Stone Blackwell and Julia Ward Howe. The Schlesinger Library offers open online access to digitized issues of The Woman's Journal .
  • The Woman Patriot Published by the Woman Patriot Club in Washington D.C., this publication's full title was The woman patriot : a national newspaper for home and national defense against woman suffrage, feminism and socialism. It ran with the subtitle "Dedicated to the defense of the family and the national against Feminism and Socialism." The Schlesinger provides access to digitized issues of The Woman Patriot from 1918 through 1927.
  • The Woman's Protest Published by the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, The Woman's Protest was initially published as a newspaper in 1912, and then transitioned to periodical format later that same year. The Schlesinger offers open online access to The Woman's Protest Volume 2, Issue 2 from December, 1912.
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women's suffrage essay questions

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Course: US history   >   Unit 7

The nineteenth amendment.

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  • The Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified on August 18, 1920. It declares that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
  • The amendment, which granted women the right to vote, represented the pinnacle of the women’s suffrage movement, which was led by the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).
  • In their decades-long struggle for female enfranchisement, women’s rights advocates met with strong opposition from anti-suffrage activists.

The women’s suffrage movement

Opposition to women’s suffrage, what do you think, want to join the conversation.

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Incredible Answer

Women’s Suffrage

Activities will help students:

  • understand that until the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, many states denied women the right to vote
  • use primary and secondary sources to understand the ways that women advocated for the right to vote
  • evaluate the importance of the federal government in securing women's right to vote
  • Why did so many states deny women the right to vote? Why was women’s suffrage legal in some states?
  • What strategies did women use to win the right to vote? Which were most successful? What made them successful?
  • What role did state governments play in extending voting rights to women? What role did the federal government play?
  • The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States,  by Alexander Keyssar. Rev. ed. New York: Basic Books, 2009.
  • Iron Jaw Angels , a HBO film
  • Why Women Couldn’t Vote
  • Suffragists Change Tactics in Fight for Equal Suffrage transcript
  • Strategy Cards
  • Sandra Day O’Connor Views Alice Paul   transcript
  • " Votes for Women!/The Woman’s Reason "
  • " Women in the Home "
  • Map of Woman Suffrage Before 1920

This lesson is the fourth in a series called  Expanding Voting Rights . The overall goal of the series is for students to explore the complicated history of voting rights in the United States. Two characteristics of that history stand out: First, in fits and starts, more and more Americans have gained the right to vote. Second, over time, the federal government's role in securing these rights has expanded considerably.

Please note this lesson was originally written to be used with NBC Learn videos, but those videos are no longer available.  The transcripts to those videos are linked in the materials list.

This lesson has students explore how women succeeded in gaining the right to vote in this country. Until 1920, most states limited the right to vote to men (and in many states only white men). Over a period of about 75 years, a movement of American women used nonviolent tactics at both the state and federal levels to demand their right to vote. The outcome was the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1920.

suffrage [ suhf -rij] ( noun ) the right to vote

suffragist [ suhf - r uh -jist] ( noun ) someone who wants to extend the right to vote; frequently used to refer to women

abridge [ uh - brij ] (verb)  to deprive; to limit 

1. For some background information, read  Why Women Couldn’t Vote . It explains that in the early 1900s, the United States lacked a coherent national policy guaranteeing women the right to vote. This reading will prepare you for a more in-depth look at the women’s suffrage movement.

2. Different groups of women used different strategies to gain the right to vote. Read Suffragists Change Tactics  from the NBC Learn archives.What are the three different phases of the suffrage movement identified by historian Sarah Chinn in the video?  (Note: Moral persuasion, state-by-state and federal amendment. Have students write each one on chart paper and post each chart in a different corner of the room.)

3. ( Note: Have students count off by threes. ) Students who are "ones" go to the corner with moral persuasion sign, the “twos” go to the state-by-state sign and the “threes” to the federal amendment sign. (Note: Give each group the  Strategy Card  that corresponds to the strategy identified in their corner. If you have enough computers in the classroom for each group to work on one, have groups work where they are. If you don’t, print a copy of the appropriate documents/transcripts ahead of time and give it to the group.) Read your group’s strategy card and discuss it together to see if you understand it. To get more information, view/read any sources identified on your group’s card, and do any additional research you need so that you have a solid understanding of your group’s beliefs and actions. Create a presentation for the class showing how your group went about trying to win votes for women. Which group might picket, march or chant in public places to draw attention to their cause? What would other groups do? Keep in mind that you want the rest of the class to understand the answers to these two questions: 1) What arguments did your group make about why women should have the right to vote? 2) How did they present those arguments?

4. Form groups of three, with each group having a representative from each of the three strategies (that is, one person from a moral persuasion group, one from a federal amendment group and one from a state-by-state group). Staying in character, discuss your group’s position on women’s suffrage and strategies. Make a  three-way Venn diagram  to clarify what you have in common and how you differ. Study the diagram together. Have each person take a turn explaining why she either would or would not be willing to work with the other two groups to gain the right to vote. Tell the rest of the class about your group’s decision and how you reached it.

5. Read the  Nineteenth Amendment . Plan a celebration of its ratification, with each of the three groups contributing. Be creative with your contributions! They might include, for example, decorations, a speech, a song or costumes.

6. Finally, after the festivities, write an essay or prepare a presentation that addresses this question: Do you think women would have gotten the right to vote if the federal government had not proposed a constitutional amendment? Why or why not?

Activities and embedded assessments address the following standards from  Common Core State Standards for  English Language Arts .

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HIS 200 - Applied History

Women's suffrage movement.

Women's suffrage is a broad topic! As you start your research, think about what specific area of the broader topic you could focus on for your project. Once you have a more specific idea identified, it can be helpful to write a research question that will then serve as your foundation for further research. You can check out the Shapiro Library FAQs on  writing research questions  for more information.

Here is a research starter This link opens in a new window that can give you background information about Women's suffrage. As an encyclopedia article, the research starter is a tertiary source, like other background/reference sources. It can be a useful tool to give yourself some background knowledge on your topic and help you decide how you would like to focus your research and which keywords might be helpful. Generally speaking, tertiary sources aren't acceptable sources to use in your papers because they summarize and condense information about a topic. The original research and primary sources reference sources that are discussed and cited within the source can be a good place to start.

Take a look at the Primary Sources and Secondary Sources pages for some recommendations for library databases to further research this topic!

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women's suffrage essay questions

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Struggle for Women’s Suffrage

women's suffrage essay questions

Written by: Bill of Rights Institute

By the end of this section, you will:.

  • Explain how and why various reform movements developed and expanded from 1800 to 1848

Suggested Sequencing

This Narrative focuses on women’s rights and can be used alongside The Women’s Movement and the Seneca Falls Convention Lesson.

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, a Second Great Awakening, or religious revival, swept through the United States. The evangelical fervor spawned numerous reform movements such as abolitionism, temperance, and prison reform. Reformers sought to alleviate harsh conditions, work for equality for all, eliminate vice, and create a utopian society. In general, they wanted to achieve a more just society.

In the 1830s and 1840s, these reform movements created organizations that worked to advocate greater equality and improve civil society. They sent out speakers to raise awareness, spread knowledge through pamphlets and newspapers, lobbied politicians at various levels of government, and learned how to create strong organizations. Many of the reform movements were controversial because of the change they sought.

During this time, most Americans accepted the idea that there were different spheres for men and women – men were active in public life through their jobs and politics, and women were responsible for the home. As a result of these gender roles, women suffered inequality in most social and political institutions. They could not vote or serve on juries, and married women generally could not own property. They did not have the same educational or professional opportunities as men. The antebellum reform movements gave women an opportunity to participate in politics and public life because of the inherent moral quality of social reform and because, by the 1830s, women were being seen as defenders of morality in society. When they engaged in movements for equality and justice such as abolition and prison reform, women gained practical experience in organizing a movement.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the pioneers in the fight for women’s rights. Born to an affluent family in upstate New York, the “burned-over district” and center of the Second Great Awakening, she received a classical education, unusual for girls at the time. Her parents were Quakers who taught her their values of human equality and abolitionism. In the spring of 1840, the twenty-five-year-old Stanton boarded the Montreal to sail to London on her honeymoon with her new husband, abolitionist Henry Stanton. They were among forty people from the United States (including eight women) who were traveling across the Atlantic to attend the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London.

The three-week voyage was largely uneventful. Stanton and her husband took advantage of the trip to read abolitionist tracts and discuss ideas associated with antislavery. The couple stayed at the grimy lodging house of an abolitionist in Cheapside, London. Nevertheless, they enjoyed touring around the capital and engaging other abolitionists in conversation.

On Friday, June 12, the meeting of some five hundred abolitionists convened in Freemasons’ Hall. Stanton and the other female delegates bristled when they were seated behind the bar and not on the floor of the convention as official participants. Abolitionist leader Wendell Phillips and other American men boldly protested the unequal treatment of women. Phillips stated that excluding women was akin to excluding black delegates. Another famous abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, who arrived late and refused to participate because of the seating issue, later said, “If women should be excluded from its deliberation, my interest in [the convention] would be about destroyed.” Nevertheless, the English hosts were adamant that the women would not be seated, because of the customs of the country. Stanton had suffered discrimination at the hands of those at the vanguard of abolitionist reform. It was a turning point in her life.

Lithograph of a convention of men and women, sitting in a large hall.

This lithograph by John Alfred Vinter depicts the 1840 Anti-Slavery Society Convention in London. Note that in this image, women are included on the floor of the meeting, which was not Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s experience at the time.

While in London, Stanton struck up a friendship with women’s rights advocate Lucretia Mott. Stanton revered the older Mott and was struck by her oratorical ability when she preached at a London Unitarian church. During a sightseeing walk, the two women agreed to hold a convention and organize a society dedicated to women’s rights. After lingering in London for their honeymoon, the newlyweds sailed home in December with Elizabeth dedicated to a new cause for justice.

Over the next few years, the couple had several children and moved to Boston, where Henry practiced law. Elizabeth’s time was largely consumed by domestic affairs, though she was still very interested in women’s rights. In 1847, she moved her family to New York after her father offered her a piece of property there, with a farmhouse in her own name. The humble town soon became be the site of a historic meeting for women’s rights.

On Sunday, July 9, a half-dozen Quaker women assembled in nearby Waterloo. They met at that time to include Mott, who was visiting from Philadelphia. Mott had encouraged them to also invite Stanton, who made the short ride by train and expressed her discontent at women’s status. The women resolved to call a meeting to “discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.” They placed an ad in the local newspaper and in black abolitionist Frederick Douglass’s North Star announcing the upcoming convention. The following Sunday, Stanton met with a few other women and penned a series of resolutions on her own that she intended to present, and, more importantly, a Declaration of Sentiments based on the Declaration of Independence, after reading that document aloud.

Panel (a) is a portrait of Elizabeth Cady Stanton holding two young boys. Panel (b) is a portrait of Lucretia Mott.

(a) Elizabeth Cady Stanton, shown with two of her sons in an 1848 photograph, and (b) Lucretia Mott in an 1842 oil portrait by Joseph Kyle. Both women emerged from the abolitionist movement as strong advocates of women’s rights.

On Wednesday, July 19, a blistering hot summer day, more than one hundred women assembled for the convention in Seneca Falls’ Wesleyan Chapel. Forty men also appeared and were asked not to speak during the morning session. Stanton delivered an opening address in which she spoke passionately against the subordination and inequality of women. She introduced and read the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments (commonly called the “Declaration of Sentiments”) for attendees’ consideration before adjourning in midafternoon.

The next day was just as hot, but more than three hundred women and men squeezed into the crowded church to consider the Declaration of Sentiments and a series of resolutions. Henry Stanton had warned his wife that if she planned to bring up women’s suffrage, he would stay away. “You will turn the proceedings into a farce,” he told her. Because she definitely would advocate women’s suffrage, he spent the day lecturing in another town.

The assembly heard Stanton read the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments again and noted its familiar words, because it was modeled after the assertion of universal rights in the Declaration of Independence. Stanton’s Declaration featured a significant clarification: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal.” Just as the original Declaration had presented a list of grievances against George III, the Declaration of Sentiments included a list of grievances and stated that the “history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman.”

The list included examples of political, civil, economic, and educational inequality. Man had compelled woman to follow laws “in the formation of which she had no voice.” It continued, “He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.” Moreover, “He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.” Men had allowed women “but a subordinate position” in church affairs. Most importantly, and most controversially, the declaration asserted: “It is the duty of the women of this country to secure to themselves their sacred right to the elective franchise” of the vote.

The Declaration and other resolutions, especially for women’s suffrage, were highly contentious, even at the convention. Mott told Stanton, “Lizzie, thee will make us ridiculous.” The other Quaker women, who were not interested in civil affairs, also demurred. Frederick Douglass was the only man to support the resolution and delivered a speech defending women’s right to vote. He said, “In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world.” In the end, the resolution barely passed and, as predicted, it was the center of ridicule in the press. That evening, sixty-eight women and thirty-two men signed the convention’s statement.

Poster that reads “Our Roll of Honor” listing the names of the men and women who signed the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848.

This souvenir from 1908 was created to commemorate the women and men who signed the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848.

Voting during the new republic had been limited to those with economic independence, because of the republican ideal that only they could be disinterested in exercising the right of suffrage. In New Jersey, the 1776 state constitution allowed all women to vote. Then, in 1790s, the state’s constitution was revised to allow only single women who owned property to vote. This remained in effect until 1807, when suffrage was rescinded due to partisanship disputes. During the 1800s, new ideals of democratic citizenship and suffrage were formed. Stanton led the fight for women’s suffrage on the grounds that the individual right to vote was at the core of citizenship and political participation in the republic. She stated that women’s suffrage was the “stronghold of the fortress” of women’s equality. The long struggle for women’s suffrage thus began with the unflagging fortitude of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her dedication to the cause of justice for women.

Review Questions

1. Upon what document was the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments based as it argued for women’s rights?

  • The U.S. Constitution
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Declaration of Rights and Grievances

2. Most of the women who led the women’s rights movement in the 1830s and 1840s had gained leadership experience in campaigns for which movement?

  • Abolition of slavery
  • Separation of church and state
  • Democratic socialism
  • Equal pay for equal work

3. During the antebellum period women were least likely to have the opportunity to

  • receive elementary education
  • work outside the home
  • vote and run for office
  • own property

4. Who did not support adding the right to vote to the 1848 Declaration?

  • Frederick Douglass
  • Lucretia Mott
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Quaker representatives

5. The catalyst for the start of the women’s rights movement was

  • the realization that women were excluded from the Constitution
  • the exclusion of women as official delegates at the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London
  • the strong desire for women to have the right to vote
  • the breakdown of traditional roles between men and women

6. Which abolitionist spoke these words in support of the women’s rights movement?

In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world.
  • William Lloyd Garrison
  • Henry Stanton
  • Wendell Phillips

Free Response Questions

  • Explain why Elizabeth Cady Stanton and other like-minded individuals supported the movement for women’s rights in the United States.
  • Explain the motivation for Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the participants of the Seneca Falls Convention to use the Declaration of Independence as the model for the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments.

AP Practice Questions

“Now, in view of this entire disfranchisement of one-half the people of this country, their social and religious degradation, in view of the unjust laws above mentioned, and because women do feel themselves aggrieved, oppressed, and fraudulently deprived of their most sacred rights, we insist that they have immediate admission to all the rights and privileges which belong to them as citizens of these United States. In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object. We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national Legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press in our behalf. We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions, embracing every part of the country.”

The Declaration of Sentiments Seneca Falls (NY) Convention, July 19-20, 1848

1. The excerpt reflects the sentiments of which group?

  • American Indians
  • Abolitionists working on behalf of enslaved persons
  • Supporters of women’s rights
  • Supporters of the rights of Irish and German immigrants

2. Which part of the Bill of Rights do the Declaration’s signers expect to use most frequently?

  • The First Amendment
  • The Second Amendment
  • The Third Amendment
  • The Fourth Amendment

3. Which of the following was the most controversial issue in the movement whose sentiments are expressed in the excerpt?

  • Equal access to education
  • Women’s suffrage
  • Explicit support for abolition
  • The support for temperance

Primary Sources

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. “Modern History Sourcebook: Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Conference, 1848.” https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/senecafalls.asp

Suggested Resources

Ginzberg, Lori D. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life . New York: Hill and Wang, 2009.

Keyssar, Alexander. The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States . New York: Basic Books, 2000.

Matthews, Jean V. Women’s Struggle for Equality: The First Phase, 1828-1876 . Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1997.

McMillen, Sally G. Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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women's suffrage essay questions

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Women Suffrage Essays (Examples)

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Women suffrage.

Woman's Suffrage Women in the United States made the fight for suffrage their most fundamental demand because they saw it as the defining feature of full citizenship. The philosophy underlying women's suffrage was the belief in "natural rights" to govern themselves and choose their own representatives. Woman's suffrage asserted that women should enjoy individual rights of self-government, rather than relying on indirect civic participation as the mothers, sisters, or daughters of male voters. However, most men and even some women believed that women were not suited by circumstance or temperament for the vote. ecause women by nature were believed to be dependent on men and subordinate to them, many thought women could not be trusted to exercise the independence of thought necessary for choosing political leaders responsibly. Others feared that entry of women into political life challenged the assignment of women to the home and might lead to disruption of the….

Bibliography

Carrie Chapman Catt." American Memory. 08 May 2003.  http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/naw/cattbio.html .

Imbornoni, Ann-Marie, "Timeline of Key Events in the American Woment's Rights

Movement." Infoplease 07 May 2003.  http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenstimeline1.html .

Lewis, Jone Johnson. "August, 26, 1920." Women's History. 08 May 2003.  http://womenshistory.about.com /library/weekly/aa081700a.htm.

Women Suffrage 19th Century However

In 1869, Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, another prominent 19th century suffragist, formed the National oman Suffrage Association (NSA) to collectively lobby for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. The NSA also focused their attention on universal suffrage for African-Americans. Their efforts toward abolition succeeded first, as the 15th Amendment passed in 1871. Also in 1869 Lucy Stone, Julia ard Howe, and other suffragists formed a separate suffragist organization due to political and ideological differences with the NSA. The American oman Suffrage Association (ASA) favored a states-rights approach to suffrage and rather than petition the federal government for an amendment to the American constitution granting women the right to vote the ASA appealed to state legislatures. Their efforts were "tied...closely to the Republican Party," ("Teaching with Documents"). The women's suffrage movement progressed slowly. Several estern territories such as yoming and Utah guaranteed women the right to vote in 1869….

Works Cited

19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920)." Historical Documents. 2005. Retrieved July 31, 2006 at http://www.historicaldocuments.com/19thAmendment.htm

Petition to U.S. Senate Women Voters Anti-Suffrage Party of New York World War I." United States Senate: Records Group 46. 1917. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 31, 2006 at  http://www.archives.gov/global-pages/larger-image.html?i=/education/lessons/woman-suffrage/images/ny-petition-l.gif&c=/education/lessons/woman-suffrage/images/ny-petition.caption.html 

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. "Woman's Rights Petition to the New York Legislature." Transcribed by Carolyn Sims and reverse-order proofed by Lloyd Benson, Department of History, Furman University, from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, et al., History of Woman Suffrage, (New York, Fowler & Wells, Publishers, 1881), I, 593-595. Retrieved July 31, 2006 at  http://chnm.gmu.edu/exploring/19thcentury/womenandequality/pop_petition.html 

Teaching With Documents: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment." The National Archives. Retrieved July 31, 2006 at  http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/woman-suffrage/

Woman Suffrage and Woman's Rights

Suffrage Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Amelia Bloomer were all instrumental in shifting the status of women in American society. Their writings reveal the personalities, assumptions, and values of the authors. Each of these women took incredible personal risks by challenging the underlying assumptions in the society that women were not valid, valuable members of society. The place of women in American society prior to suffrage was no better than domestic servitude. Anthony forever aligns herself with the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., by using the technique civil disobedience to achieve social justice. Each of these women recognized the connection between slavery of African-Americans and slavery of women. They each fought for abolition as well as suffrage, and therefore understood that women's rights were human rights. When Anthony, Stanton, and Bloomer fought for equality, they did so in a time when more than fifty percent of the….

Anthony, S. (1872). On women's right to vote. Retrieved online:  http://womenshistory.about.com /gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=womenshistory&cdn=education&tm=443&f=00&tt=14&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.historyplace.com/speeches/anthony.htm

Bloomer, A. (1895). Women's right to the ballot. Retrieved online:  http://www.apstudent.com/ushistory/docs1851/suffrge1.htm 

Stanton, E.C. (1898). Eighty Years And More: Reminiscences 1815-1897. New York: T. Fisher Unwin, 1898. Retrieved online:  http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/stanton/years/years.html#XV

Campaign for Woman Suffrage in

149-150). eferences Balu, . (Fall 1995). History comes alive: How women won the right to vote. Human ights, 22(4). etrieved March 23, 2005, from Academic Search Premier database. Colorado: Popularism, panic and persistence. (No date). etrieved March 23, 2005, at http://www.autry-museum.org/explore/exhibits/suffrage/suffrage_co.html. Marilley, S.M. (1996). Woman suffrage and the origins of liberal feminism in the United States, 1820-1920. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Suffrage appeals to lawless and hysterical women. (30 May 1913). New York Times. etrieved March 23, 2005, from Proquest Historical database. Woman suffrage. (2005). The World….

Balu, R. (Fall 1995). History comes alive: How women won the right to vote. Human Rights, 22(4). Retrieved March 23, 2005, from Academic Search Premier database.

Colorado: Popularism, panic and persistence. (No date). Retrieved March 23, 2005, at  http://www.autry-museum.org/explore/exhibits/suffrage/suffrage_co.html .

Marilley, S.M. (1996). Woman suffrage and the origins of liberal feminism in the United States, 1820-1920. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Suffrage appeals to lawless and hysterical women. (30 May 1913). New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2005, from Proquest Historical database.

Women's Rights During the Nineteenth Century Many

omen's Rights During the nineteenth century, many accomplishments in women's rights occurred. As a result of these early efforts, women today enjoy many privileges. They are able to vote and become candidates for political elections, as well as own property and enjoy leadership positions. During the early nineteenth century, the women's rights movement came into effect. omen like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony created many organizations for equality and independence. However, even with these activist groups, victory would not be fast or easy. Changing social conditions for women during the early nineteenth century, combined with the idea of equality, led to the birth of the woman suffrage movement. For example, women started to receive more education and to take part in reform movements, which involved them in politics. As a result, women started to ask why they were not also allowed to vote. The Start of the Revolution In July 13, 1848, the….

Berg, Barbara. The Remembered Gate: Origins of American Feminism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Degler, Carl N. At Odds: Women and the Family in America from the Revolution to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Pessen, Edward. Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics. Homewood, Illinois: Dorsey Press, 1969, 1978.

Ryan, Mary P. Womanhood in America: From Colonial Times to the Present. New York: New Viewpoints, 1979.

Women's Rights After the Civil

This made the United States the only estern nation to criminalize contraception at that time (Time). hile women (and men) continued to illegally access birth control, often using devices labeled differently for contraceptive purposes, it would be decades before birth control could be openly used within the United States. In 1916, Margaret Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in the United States, but it is shut down in 10 days (Time). It was not until 1938 that the federal ban against birth control was lifted by a federal judge (Time). hile women did not enjoy an abrupt increase in civil rights following the Civil ar, it is important to realize that there was a gradual increase in attention towards civil rights and support for women's rights after the Civil ar. In 1868, the National Labor Union supported equal pay for equal work, which was the first real call for….

A&E Television Networks. "The Fight for Women's Suffrage." History.com. N.p. 2012.

Web. 16 May 2012.

The Prism. "The Path of the Women's Rights Movement: A Timeline of the Women's Rights

Movement 1848-1998." The Prism. N.P. Mar. 1998. Web. 16 May 2012.

Women's Movement Triumph Over History

Support like this was not uncommon. omen were demonstrating how useful they could become and by asserting their knowledge along with their feminine nature, they were showing men they could be a positive influence on society. As the effort grew, it became more organized and it gained momentum. In 1869, Lucy Stone helped establish the American oman Suffrage Association (ASA), which worked for women's right to vote. The association became a powerful force behind the women's movement. Its main goal was to force individual states to grant women the right to vote to women. In 1890, the ASA joined with the National oman Suffrage Association, which Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton formed in 1869. The new organization was called the National American oman Suffrage Association, and it held conventions, waged voting campaigns and distributed literature in support of women's voting rights. The Equal Rights amendment was passed in 1972.….

Anthony, Susan B. "Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States 4 July 1876."

Rutgers University Online Database. 06 May, 2010. Web.

http://ecssba.rutgers.edu/docs/decl.html

Binder, Frederick. The Way We Lived D.C. Heath and Company. 1994. Print.

Women in American History

omen in American History The contribution woman have made to the United States over the years is profoundly important, and probably not recognized to the degree that it should be recognized. This paper reviews and critiques the contributions of women from five periods in history: from 1865 to 1876; from 1877 to 1920; from 1921 to 1945; from 1946 to 1976; and from 1976 to the present day. omen in America -- 1865 to 1876 -- Sojourner Truth One of the brightest lights in the movement to free the slaves was Sojourner Truth, likely the best-known person in the abolitionist movement. She was actually very active in the movement to free the slaves before and during the Civil ar, and she helped organize and lead the Underground Railroad movement. The Underground Railroad shepherded runaway slaves away from Southern slave states and up into New York State, Pennsylvania, isconsin, Minnesota and other states that….

Baker, Sara Josephine. (2007). Sara Josephine Baker: Physician and Public Health Worker.

Harvard Square Library / Notable American Unitarians. Retrieved June 11, 2011, from  http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/baker.html .

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2006). Hull House. Retrieved June 12, 2011, from  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/275272/Hull-House .

Jewish Virtual Library. (2006). Golda Meir. Retrieved June 13, 2011, from  http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/meir.html .

Women's Suffrage Movement in the

This public visibility had an extremely positive effect on the movement, reaching people their more passive campaign would never have touched. Needless to say, the strategy of marching in the streets was not one typically associated with normal female behavior. Yet, through this brazen tactic, suffragists were able to elevate their public image to a position where they were seen as legitimate participants in the public political arena. Onlookers began to see suffragists as serious and dignified, and as individuals who had courage to make public appearances, presenting themselves to onlookers (McCammon). Much of the effectiveness of these parades was due to the manner in which they were held. As McCammon notes, woman suffrage parades were neither festive nor frivolous. The women typically marched in formation. They wore white dresses and carried signs and banners stating reasons why women should have the right to vote. In eastern parades, primarily, a variety….

Beck, E., Dorsey, E., & Stutters, a. "The Women's Suffrage Movement: Lessons for Social Action." Journal of Community Practice 11(3) 2003: p. 13-33. Academic Search Premier database. EBSCOHost. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. March 9, 2008  http://web.ebscohost.com .

Borda, J. "The Woman Suffrage Parades of 1910-1913." Western Journal of Communication 66(1) Winter 2002: p. 25-52. Academic Search Premier database. EBSCOHost. University of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ. March 9, 2008

Women's Suffrage in Indiana in

432). In fact, northwest Indiana became home to several literary and cultural groups for women over the second half of the nineteenth century (Croly). Among these were The Helen Hunt Club of Cambridge City, which originally began as The Two O'clock Club, who stated that "ith an earnest desire to obtain a higher degree of literary culture, a greater fund of knowledge, and a better appreciation of the dignity of womanhood, we associate ourselves together as a club" (Croly, 436). This club did not even restrict itself to esoteric pursuits, but actively engaged in a political and historical study and analysis of the United States, which necessarily colored their perspectives and enlightened them on current political issues such as the suffrage movement (Croly, 436). No human issue exists in a vacuum. Intermingled with the issue of women's suffrage we find issues of women's education, rights to property, and a host….

J.C. Croly. The History of the Women's Club Movement n America. New York, NY: H.G. Allen & Company, 1898. Accessed online 24 February 2009. http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com+wam2.object.details.aspx?dorpid=1000672402

Elizabeth Cody Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds. History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 1: 1848-1861. New York, NY: Fowler and Wells, Publishers, 1881. Accessed online 24 February 2009. http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com+wam2.object.details.aspx?dorpid=1000685759

M.G. Stapler, ed. Women's Suffrage Yearbook. New York: National Woman Suffrage Pub. Co., 1917. Accessed online 24 February 2009. www.everydaylife.amdigital.co.uk+Document.aspx?docref=TheWomanSuffrageYearBook1917

Women Called to Witness by Nancy a Hardesty Second Edition

Women Called to Witness by Nancy a. Hardesty, Second Edition The biblical feminists of today reinterpret the original scriptures with reference to women while trying to find religious reasons for their actions. An example of this is Women Called to Witness: Evangelical Feminism in the Nineteenth Century by Nancy Hardesty, as also other writers like Lucretia Mott, the Grimke sisters and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It is suggested by the book that the motivation of women leading the fights for temperance, female ordination, abolition and women suffrage in the beginning of the nineteenth century was from their evangelical Christian faith. 1 The Second Great awakening revivals touched the lives of each of these great warriors. The author proves that the traditional, evangelical activist was as intelligent as the Christian feminist. The differences between public and private, male and female, and politics and religion that were defined through the Industrial evolution were deliberately….

Hardesty, Nancy A. 1984. Women Called to Witness: Evangelical Feminism in the Nineteenth Century. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Women First Wave Susan B

She is the daughter of Alice Walker, who wrote the Color Purple. She took her mother's maiden name at the age of 18. Rebecca graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1993, and moved on to co-found the Third Wave Foundation. She is considered to be one of the founding leaders of third-wave feminism. In addition to her contributing editorship for Ms. Magazine, Walker's work has also been published by Harper's, Essence, Glamour, Interview, Buddhadharma, Vibe, Child, and Mademoiselle magazines. Her relationship with her mother has been strained because of various public indictments the younger Walker made against her. Nevertheless, some believe that Rebecca might not have been as famous or powerful today without her ties to the illustrious Alice Walker. Jennifer Baumgardner is a prominent voice for women and girls. She works as a writer, speaker and activist. During 1993-1997, she worked as the youngest editor at Ms. Magazine,….

Women in History

women in the American est during the estward movement. Specifically, it will discuss historic evidence to support the position that the westward movement did indeed transform the traditional roles of American women, just as it transformed the American est. omen traveling west during the estward movement created opportunities for themselves, became active in business and politics, and created new and exciting lives for themselves. These women transformed how America looked at women, and how women looked at themselves, which was probably the most important transformation of all. The estward movement began in the early 1800s, after the explorers Lewis and Clark opened up the first trail from St. Louis Missouri to Oregon, and proved overland travel was possible, if not difficult. Migrants began heading for Oregon and other areas of the est as early as the 1830s - in fact, the first women to cross the Continental Divide were Eliza….

Armitage, Susan, and Elizabeth Jameson. The Women's West. Norman, OK: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

Butler, Anne M., and Ona Siporin. Uncommon Common Women: Ordinary Lives of the West. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1996.

Morris, Esther, and Carrie Chapman Catt. "Winning the Vote in the West." Women of the West. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. 75-86.

Myres, Sandra L. Westering Women and the Frontier Experience, 1800-1915. Eds. Ray Allen Billington, et al. 1st ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 1982.

omen to History omen have contributed to the history of the world from the beginning of time. Their stories are found in legends, myths, and history books. Queens, martyrs, saints, and female warriors, usually referred to as Amazon omen, writers, artists, and political and social heroes dot our human history. By 1865, women moved into the public arena, as moral reform became the business of women, as they fought for immigrant settlement housing, fought and struggled for the right to earn living wages, and stood up to the threats of the lynch mobs. The years beginning in 1865 is known as the Civil ar era and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It was a time of great changes, especially for African-American women such as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. omen of all races had to fight for equal rights, even the right to vote (http://women.eb.com/women/nineteenth09.html).omenhave indeed 'come a long….

Women in American History. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. http://women.eb.com/women/nineteenth09.html. http://women.eb.com/women/crossroads05.html. http://women.eb.com/women/crossroads12.html. http://women.eb.com/women/modernamerica06.html. http://women.eb.com/women/modernamerica02.html.

A accessed 07-04-2002).

Bryson, Donna. "MOTHER TERESA LED LIFE OF HARD WORK AND LOVE DIMINUTIVE NUN NEVER WAVERED FROM HER SELF-IMPOSED MISSION TO BRING COMFORT TO THE WORLD." Denver Rocky Mountain News. September 14, 1997, pp 3A. http://ask.elibrary.com/getdoc.asp?pubname=Denver_Rocky_Mountain_News&puburl=http~C~~S~~S~InsideDenver.com~S~&querydocid=:bigchalk:U.S.;Lib&dtype=0~0&dinst=0&author=Donna+Bryson&title=MOTHER+TERESA+LED+LIFE+OF+HARD+WORK+AND+LOVE+DIMINUTIVE+NUN+NEVER+WAVERED+FROM+HER+SELF%2DIMPOSED+MISSION+TO+BRING+COMFORT+TO+THE+WORLD++&date=09%2D14%2D1997&query=+Mother+Teresa&maxdoc=90&idx=7.(accessed07-04-2002).

Lloyd, Marion. "Nun's Sainthood effort moves fast; Callers report miracles of Mother Teresa." The Washington Times. August 28, 1999, pp A6. http://ask.elibrary.com/getdoc.asp?pubname=The_Washington_Times&puburl=http~C~~S~~S~www.washtimes.com&querydocid=:bigchalk:U.S.;Lib&dtype=0~0&dinst=0&author=Marion+Lloyd&title=Nun%27s+sainthood+effort+moves+fast%3B+Callers+report+miracles+of+Mother+Teresa++&date=08%2D28%2D1999&query=+Mother+Teresa&maxdoc=90&idx=6 accessed 07-04-2002).

Women in the Civil War

Primary Source Material Analysis: Harriet Tubman Mrs. Sarah H. Bradford wrote a small book in 1868 for the purpose of raising funds to benefit Harriet Tubman's efforts to buy a house and support herself and her aging parents (Introduction). This book was composed immediately before Bradford set sail for Europe in 1868 and its publication costs were covered by several benefactors. The book is remarkable because it is written by a hite abolitionist and suffragist who had become acquainted with Harriet's work on the Underground Railroad through friends and associates. The stories that Bradford included in the book were corroborated through independent sources and therefore represent a collection of accounts detailing Harriet's struggle to move her family and other slaves north to freedom in Canada along the Underground Railroad. To substantiate the veracity of these accounts Bradford includes in the preface several letters attesting to Harriet's contributions, including one from Frederick Douglass….

Bradford, Sarah H. Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman. 1869. Salem, NH: Ayer Company, 1992. Print.

Miller, Anne Fitzhugh and Miller, Elizabeth Smith. Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911. Scrapbook 1905-1906. Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Washington, D.C. Web. 9 Sep. 2013.  http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D-rbcmillerbib:3:./temp/~ammem_fED1 ::

Tubman, Harriet. "General Affidavit" [Claim of Harriet Tubman: General affidavit of Harriet Tubman Davis regarding payment for services rendered during the Civil War]. The Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives, c. 1898. Web. 9 Sep. 2013.  http://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/claim-of-harriet-tubman/ .

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Sports - Women

Woman's Suffrage Women in the United States made the fight for suffrage their most fundamental demand because they saw it as the defining feature of full citizenship. The philosophy underlying…

In 1869, Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, another prominent 19th century suffragist, formed the National oman Suffrage Association (NSA) to collectively lobby for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women the…

Suffrage Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Amelia Bloomer were all instrumental in shifting the status of women in American society. Their writings reveal the personalities, assumptions, and values…

149-150). eferences Balu, . (Fall 1995). History comes alive: How women won the right to vote. Human ights, 22(4). etrieved March 23, 2005, from Academic Search Premier database. Colorado: Popularism, panic…

omen's Rights During the nineteenth century, many accomplishments in women's rights occurred. As a result of these early efforts, women today enjoy many privileges. They are able to vote and…

This made the United States the only estern nation to criminalize contraception at that time (Time). hile women (and men) continued to illegally access birth control, often using…

Research Paper

Support like this was not uncommon. omen were demonstrating how useful they could become and by asserting their knowledge along with their feminine nature, they were showing men…

omen in American History The contribution woman have made to the United States over the years is profoundly important, and probably not recognized to the degree that it should be…

This public visibility had an extremely positive effect on the movement, reaching people their more passive campaign would never have touched. Needless to say, the strategy of marching in…

432). In fact, northwest Indiana became home to several literary and cultural groups for women over the second half of the nineteenth century (Croly). Among these were The…

Mythology - Religion

Women Called to Witness by Nancy a. Hardesty, Second Edition The biblical feminists of today reinterpret the original scriptures with reference to women while trying to find religious reasons for…

Reaction Paper

She is the daughter of Alice Walker, who wrote the Color Purple. She took her mother's maiden name at the age of 18. Rebecca graduated cum laude from…

women in the American est during the estward movement. Specifically, it will discuss historic evidence to support the position that the westward movement did indeed transform the traditional…

omen to History omen have contributed to the history of the world from the beginning of time. Their stories are found in legends, myths, and history books. Queens, martyrs,…

Primary Source Material Analysis: Harriet Tubman Mrs. Sarah H. Bradford wrote a small book in 1868 for the purpose of raising funds to benefit Harriet Tubman's efforts to buy a…

Women Suffrage Essay

women's suffrage essay questions

Women Suffrage

equal rights for women is often thought to have begun, in the English-speaking world, with the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). During the 19th century, as male suffrage was gradually extended in many countries, women became increasingly active in the quest for their own suffrage. Not until 1893, however, in New Zealand, did women achieve suffrage on the national level. Australia followed in 1902, but American, British, and Canadian women did not win the

The Fight For Women Suffrage

Abigail Adams’s words were one of the first noted mentions in the United States foreshadowing the beginning of an extensive suppressed battle towards women’s suffrage. The fight for women suffrage was a movement in which women, and some men included, pleaded for equal rights regarding voting and women’s voice within the political realm. Women’s suffrage was not a matter of instant success; it endured a prolonged time to achieve. It was not until August 1920, about 14 decades subsequent after Abigail Adam’s

Women Suffrage Essays

  • 1 Works Cited

amendment was ratified, which centralized mainly on the enfranchisement of women. Today, they have the legal right to vote, and the ability to speak openly for themselves, but most of all they are now free and equal citizens. However this victorious triumph in American history would not have been achieved without the strong voices of determined women, risking their lives to show the world how much they truly cared. Women suffragists in the 19th century had a strong passion to change their lifestyle

Women Suffrage Women’s rights in America have always been a major issue throughout history. Women’s rights have been closely linked with human rights throughout . This violation of Women’s rights is apparent in the fight for suffrage in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s . It can be said that the government denying the vote to women is a human right offense because the right to vote is a natural right that comes with citizenship. To deny a certain group based on race, age, or gender is

Women 's Suffrage And The Suffrage Movement Essay

nyone know what the Women’s Suffrage is about? The Women’s Suffrage Movement is about the struggle for women to have equal rights as men such as vote, and run for office.What about the leaders of the suffrage? The most well known women’s rights activists were Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth C. Stanton. Does anyone know what amendment gave women the right to vote? The nineteenth amendment. The nineteenth amendment to the United States forbids any US citizen to be denied the right to vote based on

Women 's Suffrage Of Women

Women’s Suffrage In 1848 women decided that they wanted to have a voice. Women from all over the United States became tired of listening and abiding by the rules that men put in place. Many men thought all women were good for was cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children. When the country went to war women were left behind to take care of everything while the men were gone. This was an eye opener for most women, and that is when they came to the conclusion they were good for more. There was

photo to the left you see a group of about ten women standing around a box. The women closest are reaching toward the box to put a slip of paper in it. The women are a mix of races and ages, some are smiling, some are not. The Photo is in black and white and the women appear to be wearing old-fashioned clothing and hairstyles. This photo captures American women voting for the first time after the 19th Amendment was passed on August 26, 1920. Women were always thought of less than man and were expected

Suffrage Movement Women

they often take it for granted. In Britain, women did not have the right to vote until 1918, which was less than a century ago. Even so, women in Britain did not have equal voting rights to those of men until 1928 (“General”). Additionally, American women earned their right to vote in the 1920s, and if the British Suffrage Movement  had not occurred, American women would not have successfully earned this right (“Women's Suffrage”). The British Suffrage Movement of the mid-nineteenth century and the

Women And Women 's Suffrage

Do you know if you are a feminist, or do you know what a feminist is? Feminism is the belief that men and women are equal, and should have equal rights. According to teens of this generation, feminism means different things. How you decipher this information, however, is privy to you. For thousands of years, many people have believed that women were beneath men, and that men were superior. Recent times, however, have grown to realise that this is a gender biased way of thinking, and have

The Women Suffrage Movement

The Women Suffrage Movement The right to vote, the right to go to college, the right to own property. Some people take it as a right that they had all along. That is far from the truth. Suffragists fought long and hard for many years to gain women suffrage. Before the suffrage movement began, women did not have the right to vote, child custody rights, property rights, and more (Rynder). The American Women Suffrage Movement was going to change that. People known as suffragists spoke up, and joined

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Women’s Suffrage Essay

women's suffrage essay questions

Women’s suffrage also identified as female right to vote is a movement that campaigned for the equal female right to run the political office and even participate in elections. The movement experienced enormous challenges, and it took activists in America more than 100 years to win. Disagreements threatened the success of the movement, but at the end, they succeeded in their grievances.

In the mid-1800’s women began to lead a more social life, with activities outside the home. They became more involved in the church, which led to discussions of social issues such as the anti-slavery movement. Many of these more modern women also began to talk about equality with men, and after being granted full legal control over any property they brought into their marriage, they set their sights on the right for women to vote. Many women were at the forefront of the fight ( Fowler, 2015) . 

Most nations in the 1820s and 30s had extended the franchise to all white men irrespective of their property or financial income. At that time, many forms of reforms were taking place in the America which was pressured by religious movements, anti-slavery organizations, States-temperance clubs and moral-reform groups. Women played a significant role in the movements. They proved that women had different parts to play in the society apart from taking care of her home and family.

women's suffrage essay questions

The justification of the Rights of Woman in 1792 by Wollstonecraft spearheaded a campaign for women rights and freedom. The explanation made Wollstonecraft to be recognized as the “mother of feminism.” Later in 1848, there was a meeting at Seneca Falls Convention in New York by a group of ladies who started to express a demand for the enfranchisement of U.S women ( Frost-Knappman & Cullen-DuPont, 2014) . The participants spent two days before agreeing on the content of the Declaration of Sentiments. Hence, the meeting was the first step in evolving campaign for their rights. 

Nevertheless, the women suffrage movement was not that influential until in 1859 when a political cartoon was formed elegantly dressed and in the front of auditorium addressing a group of women and men who looked unruly and violent. The movement by that time had at least 5000 members who were widespread in different regions. Their main role was to ensure the governing bodies heard their demand.

women's suffrage essay questions

Moreover, the movement proved that women had exceptional abilities and potential which could lead to development in any state. The crusade made men to have a different perception on what meant to be a woman and a citizen in America. Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are some of the more well-known names associated with women’s suffrage, but Alice Paul and Lucy Stone were fundamental to the cause ( Smith, Anderson, & Rackaway, 2015) .

The beginning of civil war in the 1850s made the movement to lose momentum. However, at the end of the war, familiar queries of citizenship and suffrage were raised by the 14 th and 15 th Amendments. All citizens were protected by the 14 th Amendment of the constitution ( Fowler, 2015) . The Amendment defined “citizens” as “male”. The 15 th amendment entitled black males right to vote in 1870. 

Stanton and Susan B. Anthony declined to support the 15 th Amendment and in 1869 women came together and formed a group identified as National Woman Suffrage Association. The movement needed to implement substantial changes in the constitution so that females would exercise their rights in different state bodies. They stated that women were not different from men and hence they deserved equal rights. 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1866 was the first female candidate to declare herself in the U.S Congress even though he was not allowed to vote. Victoria Woodhull who was less than 35 years in 1872 also formed her political party and declared herself as a president and this was illegal according to U.S policy at that time. The heroism in these women influenced other females to fight for their freedom ( Frost-Knappman & Cullen-DuPont, 2014) . Belva Ann Lockwood who was a lawyer by profession enhanced women’s suffrage that received respectful coverage in different major periodicals. 

At the 19 th century, some nations such as Idaho and Utah had given women right to vote.  The World War 1 helped the suffragists advance their argument as women participated actively in the war in different ways ( Smith, Anderson, & Rackaway, 2015) . They proved that just like men, they were patriotic and hence they deserved all the citizenship rights. 

The 19th Amendment to the constitution on 26th August 1920 recognized the women right to vote just like men. They were entitled all rights and responsibilities of citizenship. A great number of United States women exercised their political right for the first time in 1920 elections. They were happy to be given the privilege to vote an act which was not possible for many years. Their effort bored fruit, and this was a vast improvement in the U.S constitution. There was women liberation which shaped the way for the freedom and the rights the females enjoy today.

women's suffrage essay questions

The paper defines women’s suffrage as the results of a movement that campaigned for the equal rights of women to vote and run for political office. Women began to lead a more social life in the mid-1800s when they joined the anti-slavery movement. In the 1820s, women took part in religious movements, anti-slavery organizations, States-temperance clubs and moral-reform groups that advocated for reforms in America. For example, the justification of the Rights of Woman in 1792 by Wollstonecraft was the “mother of feminism” as it advanced women rights and freedom. Besides, the 1859 political cartoon that depicted an elegant woman addressing a group of women and men in an auditorium was the most significant point of the women suffrage movement. The paper asserts that the women suffrage movement was very influential subject to its capacity to change men’s view on women in America. Nevertheless, the movement encountered various challenges including the civil war in the 1850s. The 14 th and 15 th Amendments that emanated from the civil war heightened the advocacy for citizenship and suffrage. Indeed, 14 th Amendment of the constitution protected the rights of all citizens including women. As a result, in 1866, Elizabeth Cady Stanton became the first woman to vie in the U.S Congress though she could not vote. The paper recognizes the National Woman Suffrage Association formed in 1869 to fight for substantial changes in the constitution to allow women exercise their rights in different state organizations. The World War 1 helped the women suffrage movement advance their argument in various platforms. The 19th Amendment to the American constitution enacted on 26th August 1920 allowed women to vote just like men.

  • Fowler, D. M. (2015). Women’s suffrage and the politics of militancy in The Milliner and The Weaver.  In: McNulty, E. and Maguire, T., eds. (2015)  The Theatre of Marie Jones: Telling Stories from the Ground Up. Carysfort Press, pp. 181-194.
  • Frost-Knappman, E., & Cullen-DuPont, K. (2014).  Women’s Suffrage in America . New York: Infobase Publishing.
  • Smith, M. A., Anderson, K., & Rackaway, C. (2015). Machines, Progressives, and Women’s Suffrage. In  State Voting Laws in America: Historical Statutes and Their Modern Implications  (pp. 22-31). Palgrave Macmillan US.
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Women's Suffrage Sources Questions

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Rhia Gohel 11SL Mrs. Keynton History

  G.C.S.E Coursework

Question 1. Explain why women failed to gain the right to vote between 1900 - 1914.

The rights and concerns for women to be able to vote was a growing one. In 1800 hardly any people, including men could not vote. This was due to the fact of voting not being seen as a ‘human right’ for all citizens. Only the rich men were allowed to vote. There was a property qualification for voting which intended that you had to own a certain amount of property and be of certain wealth before you did vote. It was thought that if you were of high wealth, you would use the vote wisely and not make rash decisions. Only men could vote in general elections, wealthy women could only vote in local elections. However, electoral reform acts were passed in 1832. 1867 and 1884. These reforms reduced the property qualification and increased the number of men who could vote. By 1900, most working men could vote in general elections if they had a permanent address.

Women wanted the right to vote for a number of reasons. The views of women were taken from the past, where women were seen as ‘goods’ which belonged to their men. In 1900, women in Britain were not allowed to vote in general elections, but could vote in local elections if they were householders or the wives of householders. Women saw this as unfair, and by 1900 about 50,000 women belonged to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). The aim of these Suffragists was to gain the same voting rights as men. The Suffragists argued that equality with men was a basic, natural right. They also argued that it was unfair to deny women the vote when many were working equals as men, had equal qualifications and paid the same taxes. They also argued that if women did have the vote, they could use their influence to bring about better housing, living conditions, childcare, and so forth. They argued that society would benefit from these advantages. However, the fact that most MP’s just did not think that the women’s vote was an important enough issue to be discussed, the bill kept on going to the bottom of the pile to be discussed at a later date.

By 1900 the Suffragists had been campaigning for 40 years. They had given out leaflets, held meetings and organised petitions. Such methods had not succeeded, and some women felt that a more active campaign was needed. In 1903, Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters broke away from the Suffragist movement and formed a Women’s Social and Political Union, better known as the WSPU. Their aim was to put pressure on the government by putting pressure on the government, for example disrupting political meetings. Press coverage of this made the WSPU the best known campaigners for women. They were known as the Suffragettes. Many women now left the Suffragist movement and moved to the Suffragette movement, if they believed in the tactics that were used.

Most of the of the press coverage that was received by these actions by the Suffragettes was indeed bad, and some reports indicated that by women doing all of these antics, had set their own cause back. They knew that without the vote, women were powerless, no matter what they had achieved in the past. So the Suffragettes carried on fighting for their cause, believing that all publicity was good publicity, which undeniably it was. The militants increasingly hit the headlines between 1906 to 1914 with their forceful tactics. This ranged from mocking cabinet ministers, chaining themselves to the railings of government buildings, window smashing, and the destruction of anything which may been seen as a symbolic of male dominance, such as the greens of golf courses which the Suffragettes applied acid to. Large numbers were arrested, and once in prison, they continued their protest by going on hunger strike. Parliament could not ignore what was taking place, and sympathetic MP’s put forward bills to give women the vote in 1907, 1908, and 1910. All of these bills were defeated. This was due to mainly that the major parties were willing to risk an extension, fearing that it may benefit the opposition. Out of the two major parties, the Conservatives were most likely to pass a bill, but only extending the vote to a small number of rich women who were most likely to vote for them. But the Liberal Party who were in power would not even agree to this. Due to these defeats upon defeats more people and organisations became increasingly agitated and united with the NUWSS. The violent action of the WSPU had also been stepped up, which now included arson and bombing. In 1913, Suffragette activity was at its highest. There were huge demonstrations and protest meetings. Thousands of new members there was increasing violence. In this year the Suffragettes also gained their first martyr where Emily Davidson was killed when she ran in front of the King’s horse at the Derby. All the following activities to the government must have seemed to be the start of a revolution.

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Alongside the Suffragette activity, the Suffragist activity also concluded, where Millicent Fawcett took lead. She believed in peaceful methods of fighting and campaigning, or constitutional campaigning. Fawcett wrote in 1911 that she wanted ‘to show the world how to gain reforms without violence, without killing people and blowing up buildings and doing the other silly things that men have done when they wanted the laws altered’. The Suffragists used alternative tactics instead. They issued leaflets, collected petitions and held meetings. They also met with politicians and argued their case. At election times they helped any candidate who supported women’s suffrage. They believed in persuasion, peaceful marches, and making speeches. They would also canvass MP’s to try and get their vote. The Suffragettes inevitably helped the Suffragists with their campaign, by keeping the matter in the public eye. But Fawcett did say that she believed that women were not behaving the way that they should be, and so many women decided to join her peaceful movement. She described her movement ‘like a glacier, slow but unstoppable’. Her movement consisted of 6,000 members in 1906, which eventually turned into 50,000 members by the end of 1914 The suffragists were largely middle class, and believed in slow painstaking chip by chip work, by trying to get men on their side, while the suffragettes were largely working class. Another key factor of why the government did not want to give women the vote is because they believed that there would be a political imbalance, where the middle class women would all vote for the Conservative Government Party, and the working classes would vote largely for the Labour Government Party. As there were more working class women, there would prove to be a political imbalance.

Another factor to why the women did not gain the vote between 1900-1914 is because some women and men doubted the whole cause. They believed that women should be seen and not heard, and expressed many views for why women should not have the right to vote. Queen Victoria was one of these where she said that ‘ With the vote, women would become the most hateful, heartless, and disgusting of human beings. Where would be the protection which man was intended to give to the weaker sex?’. Another woman who was against the vote was Marie Corelli who claimed that ‘women were and are destined to make voters, rather than to be voters themselves’. Herbert Asquith who was Prime Minister was not convinced that politics would gain by giving the right for women to vote. His view of them was contemptuous, and he continued to look upon them in a downward manner. He believed that women did not know enough about politics, that women may vote for a different party for example, the conservatives and that women would not be able to fend for their husbands if they were given more rights.

The WSPU’s campaign was something totally new. When women took to the street to protest many men were shocked. They still expected women to be quiet and obedient ‘seen and not heard’. However, the press did take much notice, and this made an impressionable and important topic to be discussed and for the problem to be overcome. Parliament was forced to debate the situation over again and again. Each time that this happened, the Suffragettes mounted a demonstration where many got arrested and enforced hunger strikes. However in May 1911, a Conciliation Bill was passed, which the massive majority of 167. The Government announced that it would produce the bill the following year. Then in November the government changed its mind and instead introduced a Franchise bill, which did not mention women but aid that Parliament could add women to the bill if desired. When MP’s said that it wanted to introduce women to this, they were told that it would change the nature of the Bill so much that it would have to be withdrawn.

However, this period of time was important for changing the way in which people had thought in the past about women suffrage, and their present views on it. It helped to shift the gap between women wanting the vote and women actually claiming for the vote. I also believe that without the movement of the suffragists, the suffragette movement would not have been taken seriously, and I believe that the suffragette movement along would have shown a lack of maturity and a lack of sensibility of why women should not gain the vote. This would have shown that women were indeed not capable of voting sensibly, which is what many MP’s were worried about. I believe that women did not gain the vote overall due to the fact that the Suffragette movement had proved to be too violent for many of the MP’s to understand and turned many of them away from supporting them.

Question 2. Attitudes towards women and their right to vote had changed by 1918. How important was the First World War in bringing about this change? Explain your answer.

The attitudes that were expressed towards women and their right to vote had changed increasingly by 1918. This was down to many factors. The Suffrage movement was halted due to the starting of World War 1 and the women that were part of this movement instead started to fill the boots of men who were called off to war. The war effort gave ordinary women more confidence in their abilities, and so more confidence in pressing for the vote by political argument. Also, without the violent campaign the suffragettes fought before the war, no one would ever have taken their cause seriously and the government would have kept on postponing a decision, thinking that it wasn’t an important issue. Before war, many men did not see women as capable. But the women’s war effort changed this stereotype, and could not now exclude women from voting. Suffrage had been gradually extending for the last 100 years anyway, and the inclusion of women was bound to come at some time. The suffragette activity and the women’s war effort were simply the triggers that helped it to happen in 1918.

Women contributed greatly to the war effort, and Lloyd George said that the war would not have been won if it wasn’t for the women contributing. The fact that women were contributing to all aspects of work, even the dangerous laborious tasks proved that they were citizens who were worthy of gaining the vote. However, it was stated in the Manchester Guardian that without the war, the vote for women would have materialised, without the suffragettes the vote would have still materialised, but without the suffragists, the vote wouldn’t have ever materialised. This indicated that the war was not the only reason of why women managed to gain the vote, or the doings of the suffragettes, put it was the peaceful protest of the suffragists that provided the lifting ground.

The women worked hard at their new-found jobs, for their King and country, and also to prove that women were worthy of working. Some Trade Unions did not like the idea of women working, but under DORA, were inclined to let them work, and pay them the same rates as men. Women also got the same injuries that men used to get, and dealt fantastically well with them. This made women more determined to gain the vote and more confident that they were going to gain the vote.

Before the war, men did not see women as equal citizens to them. They believed that women were inferior to them and could not commit to the same amount and high levels of work which they produced. The First World War gave women a chance to prove the men wrong, and they did it very well.

Women acquired the vote in 1918 as in 1915, the government realised that it had a problem with the old voting system. It realised that many soldiers would not be able to vote as they were not living in the same area for more than 12 months. Women groups saw this opportunity and started pressurising the government by meetings between women’s leaders and politicians. Without the First World War taking place, many historians believe that the Suffrage war with the government would have continued and propelled to such an extortionate length that there may have been a revolution. This links to the fact that suffrage had been taking place for more than a century, and that women were going to gain the vote at some time or another. Before the war, these measures were getting to an extortionate level, where women were setting fire to buildings and so forth just to get noticed.

Nevertheless, some historians believe that without the violent campaign the suffragettes had fought before the war, no one would have taken the cause seriously, and the government would have kept on postponing their decision, as they believed that it was not an important decision to be put forward in parliament. The violence that was taken by these women was irresponsible but showed that they meant what they said. Various historians believe that the violence of the suffragettes actually held back women’s suffrage due to the negligent actions that were being taken by these women. They believe that it just made MP’s doubt that women were capable of holding a parliamentary vote sensibly and that they could have had the vote much earlier.

However, attitudes after the war did change slightly as people knew that women were capable of doing significant roles. However women unemployment rose as men came back to claim their old jobs. Women’s wages were only half of those compared to men, even if they were doing the same work. Trade unions continued to oppose greater working opportunities for women because they were  threat to men’s work and wages. People still referred to “men’s” and “women’s” jobs. Nevertheless, women did press on, and other changes were introduced, such as better advice for women needing contraception. Women were still not viewed as equals to men, only women over the age of 30 gained the right to vote. They were not on equal terms with men until 1928. This was until the government were sure that women would take this seriously, almost like a trial period.

To conclude, the factor that World War One had impact on the votes for women was significant, however it was not the only factor that helped women gain the vote. Other important dynamics included the Suffrage movement by women in the past, both which the suffragists and suffragettes concluded to, and all that they had campaigned for. The fact that the war did help the movement get on its way is true, but this would have happened either way, with or without the war.

Women's Suffrage Sources Questions

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women's suffrage essay questions

Narges Mohammadi, the Iranian human rights activist who won the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize , is currently serving a 12-year sentence in Tehran's Evin prison. She has always been a source of inspiration for her fellow inmates: She is intelligent, determined and lively, even in her darkest moments. To mark the release of her book White Torture in France, Le Monde sent Mohammadi questions via an underground network of activists. We received her answers two weeks later. Here they are.

Why did you decide to write White Torture ?

I've been in solitary confinement four times. I consider the practice of "white torture," in other words incarceration in solitary confinement by the government, to be unjust and brutal. The solitary confinement cell is the "mother" of all executions in Iran. In the course of my work on human rights and against the death penalty, I have learned that many of those executed, subjected to the physical, mental and psychic torture of incarceration in solitary confinement, give false confessions, which then form the basis, illegally, of their death sentence.

White torture is unknown to Iranian society and many human rights groups, yet for authoritarian and oppressive governments such as the Iranian regime, it is a means of pressure against opponents. They use it extensively since this kind of torture leaves no visible traces. Many victims of solitary confinement are unaware that it is a frightening and inhumane form of torture. Documenting it is a step towards justice, the abolition of torture, the death penalty and coerced, false confessions, as well as an attempt to limit the means of oppression against activists and opponents.

What has changed for you since you were awarded the Nobel Prize on October 6, 2023? What impact do you think international prizes like this have on the struggle for democracy in Iran?

Pressure from the security services and judicial authorities has increased. Since November 29, I have been deprived of telephone calls and visits. This ban has just been extended because of the letter I recently sent to Antonio Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations, asking him to criminalize gender apartheid. To date, I haven't even been able to hear from my family the account of the Nobel Prize ceremony [on December 10, 2023, in Oslo]. After I received this prize, in January the Revolutionary Court pronounced a new sentence against me, in my absence.

The support of international institutions for democratic movements, human rights defenders and civil society currents is one of the most effective ways of strengthening the democratic process in Iran. There is clear opposition between the Iranian people and the theocratic, autocratic and misogynist regime of the Islamic Republic, because Iranians seek to establish democracy. Any support from international institutions strengthens the opposition movements in their efforts to combat this totalitarian regime.

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