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Women from the Movement

What was the Women's Suffrage Movement?

The women's suffrage movement was the fight for women's rights to vote in elections. Women were denied the right to vote until the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on August 18, 1920. 

You can read primary sources related to the lives and work of the suffragists through the National Archives. 

Voices of the Suffrage Movement

Critiquing Leaders: The more we learn, the more we must think intersectionally about leaders and movements. We can honor a leader's accomplishments and still recognize where their work was not done well or equitably. 

Many people fought hard for women's right to vote. Among them were the following

- Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 - 1902) effectively initiated the women's suffrage movement by calling for the Seneca Falls Convention with Lucretia C. Motts where she presented a speech calling for reform. Stanton worked closely with Susan B. Anthony organizing and presenting across the country on behalf of women's suffrage. 

- Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was an activist who fought diligently during the women's suffrage movement and was the President of the National Women's Suffrage Association from 1892-1900. 

Check out some resources at Jefferson about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton: 

     Susan B Anthony and the struggle for equal rights book cover     The selected papers of Susan Cady Stanton & Susan B Anthony book cover     PBS Home Video DVD Cover The Story of Elizabeth Cady Staton & Susan B. Anthony     Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life Book Cover     Susan B. Anthony Book Cover

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862 - 1931) was a journalist who frequently organized African American women for causes such as anti-lynching, African American education, and the suffrage movement. She was a part of the founding meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She also founded a women's suffrage group in Chicago, that may have been the first in the nation for black women. 

- The Blackwell Family. Many members of the Blackwell family were suffragists. Elizabeth (the first female doctor in America) (1821 - 1910) and Emily (1826 - 1910) were both doctors who opened a medical school for women. Their brother, Henry Browne Blackwell, with his wife, Lucy Stone created the American Women's Suffrage Association, the more conservative faction of the suffragist movement. Alice Blackwell, Henry and Lucy's daughter, helped to united the two factions of the movement by forming the National American Woman Suffrage Association.

- Victoria Woodhull (1838 - 1927) was a controversial suffragist who ran a women's suffragist and reform magazine with her sister and often spoke out for women's rights. She was also the first woman to run for President. 

- Olympia Brown (1835 - 1936) was one of the first females ordained as a minister. She eventually left pastoral work to focus on the suffrage movement.

- Alice Paul (1885 - 1977) was a militant suffragist who was arrested multiple times fighting for women's rights. Paul organized marches and protests. After obtaining a law degree, she wrote the first equal rights amendment to the Constitution. 

- The Grimke Sisters, Sarah and Angelina (1792-1873 and 1805 - 1879) were first leading abolitionists who later fought for women's rights.

- Emmeline Panhurst was a British suffragist whose militant approach got her arrested. She toured the United States and other countries giving lectures on women's rights encouraging mobilization. 

Mabel Ping-Hua Lee (1896 - 1966) was a Chinese born suffragist from New York who rallied the Chinese community to advocate for women's rights. Though the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, the Chinese Exclusion Act kept Lee and other Chinese immigrants from attaining the citizenship necessary to participate themselves. It is unknown whether Lee ever became a U.S. citizen or voted. 

In the US alone, hundreds of men and women worked to bring women their right to vote. Learn more about other leading suffragistsThe National Park Service has compiled a list of 20 suffragists that you may or may not know.