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100 Years of Women's Suffrage in New York State

A Special Online Exhibit Celebrating the 2017 Centennial

Women's Suffrage in New York State

November 6, 2017 marked the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York State. After almost seventy years of persistent, determined action by suffragists and their supporters, New York became one of the first states to fully enfranchise women in 1917. The gallery below displays imagery of pro- and anti-suffrage propaganda with historic photographs of the women who organized and marched until the vote was won.

They were mothers, wives, workers, rich and poor, and from every walk of life. They faced prejudice, harassment, and persecution from their opponents. Their pursuit of the vote was one goal among many in their battle for equality in the United States. This collection represents a portion of this historic struggle and a groundbreaking victory for women’s rights, a victory which continues to reverberate and inspire today.

Cartoon by Kenneth Russell Chamerlain, 1914. The American Red Cross, founded by Clara Barton, proved invaluable during World War I.

Library of Congress
Cartoon by Kenneth Russell Chamerlain, 1914. Featuring Clara Barton and the Red Cross.
This image of Sojourner Truth and Abraham Lincoln was used to support the cause of women's suffrage on the cover of this 1915 issue of The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP.
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Image featuring Abraham Lincoln and Sojourner Truth
"Women's Wash Day" Anti-Suffrage stereo view. Not only did some women's right activists eschew traditional family roles, they also took up masculine habits, suh as wearing pants and smoking in public.
Library of Congress
Women's Wash Day Anti-Suffrage stereo view image.
Anti-Suffrage sheet music cover. Red roses were the symbol of the Anti-Suffrage movement; suffragists favored yellow roses.

New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Anti-Suffrage sheet music cover.
Women’s suffrage broadside, 1917. The New York State Constitution can be amended by the legislature passing a resolution during two different legislative sessions and then putting up the amendment for a statewide referendum. The women’s suffrage amendment passed on November 6, 1917.
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Women’s suffrage broadside, 1917. The women’s suffrage amendment passed on November 6, 1917.
World War I sheet music cover. The expanded roles of women during the war convinced many that women had earned their place in the voting booth as well.

New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
World War I sheet music cover.
Anti-suffragette cartoon, Harper’s Weekly, 1912.

New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Anti-suffragette cartoon, Harper’s Weekly, 1912.
Pro-suffrage image from the back of an early 20th century playing card.

Courtesy of Stuart W. Lehman
Pro-suffrage image from the back of an early 20th century playing card.
1915 promotional stamp for New York State suffrage amendment, which passed in 1917.

Courtesy of Stuart W. Lehman
1915 promotional stamp for New York State suffrage amendment, which passed in 1917.
“Spirit of 1776” wagon with Irene Davison, Serena Kearns, and Edna Kearns, Long Island, NY, 1913. Suffragists believed that their movement was the continuation of the American Revolution. At the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, women’s rights leaders declared that “all men and women were created equal.”
Courtesy of Marguerite Kearns
Spirit of 1776 wagon with Irene Davison, Serena Kearns, and Edna Kearns, Long Island, NY, 1913. Photograph.
Anti-suffrage postcard, 1909. Suffragettes were often depicted as selfish women who ignored their traditional homemaking duties.

Courtesy of Stuart W. Lehman
Anti-suffrage postcard, 1909.
Suffragettes climbing the steps of the NY State Capitol in March 1912. The Knickerbocker Press described an “army of suffragists” that stormed the building every year with petitions to legislators, some with lists so large they were carried in wheelbarrows.
Courtesy of Coline Jenkins, Elizabeth Cady Stanton Family
Suffragettes climbing the steps of the NY State Capitol in March 1912. Photograph.
“Votes for Women Pilgrimage Petition,” 1912. Governor William Sulzer supported women’s suffrage, but he was impeached and removed from office less than one year after his inauguration.
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Votes for Women Pilgrimage Petition, 1912.
New York suffragettes demonstrating in Washington, D.C. c. 1917. Called the “Silent Sentinels,” the women faced harassment, arrest, and inhumane treatment during their two-year vigil.
Library of Congress
New York suffragettes demonstrating in Washington, D.C. c. 1917.
Lowville Broadside, 1894. During the State Constitutional Convention of 1894, suffragists lobbied hard for women’s voting rights and gender-neutral text. Voting rights were granted by amendment 23 years later. It took 107 years for another amendment to change the Constitution to gender-neutral text.
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Lowville Broadside, 1894.
World War I era poster.

New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
World War I era poster
New York State Woman Suffrage Party Banner. The “WSP” was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt and claimed over 100,000 members at its height. It was so effective at lobbying that it earned the endorsement of New York City’s powerful Tammany Hall.
New York State Museum
New York State Woman Suffrage Party Banner.
Suffrage poster featuring President Woodrow Wilson. During World War I, the Suffrage Movement emphasized voting as an act of patriotism and a symbol of a strong nation.
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Suffrage poster featuring President Woodrow Wilson.
Anti-Suffrage handbill, 1915.

New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Anti-Suffrage handbill, 1915.
World War I era poster.

New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
World War I era poster.
Pro-suffrage World War I poster. Women going to work at wartime brought about many social changes, including increased support for suffrage.
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Pro-suffrage World War I poster.
Pro-suffrage World War I poster. Many anti-suffragists criticized the suffrage movement for pressing for the vote during wartime. This poster depicts women being as patriotic and committed to the war effort as men.
New York State Library Manuscripts and Special Collections
Pro-suffrage World War I poster.
Youngest parade participant in New York City suffragist parade, c. 1912. Parades united women from varied backgrounds and received extensive news coverage.
Library of Congress
Youngest parade participant in New York City suffragist parade, c. 1912.
Suffragists marching in New York City in 1913.

Library of Congress
Suffragists marching in New York City in 1913.
Broadside for women’s suffrage meeting in Watervliet, NY, 1917.

Courtesy of Stuart W. Lehman
Broadside for women’s suffrage meeting in Watervliet, NY, 1917.
The Phyllis Wheatley Club, Buffalo, NY. Named for the 18th century African-American poet, the club supported social causes and gave African-American women a rare opportunity to express themselves on political issues.
Library of Congress
The Phyllis Wheatley Club, Buffalo, NY.
Three suffragists casting votes in New York City, c. 1920.

Library of Congress
Three suffragists casting votes in New York City, c. 1920.
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