womans suffrage

Today is International Women’s Day.

Today also marks the show of solidarity for women’s rights by way of a strike: A Day Without A Woman. Women around the world are refusing to take part in both paid and unpaid labor in the name of justice for all gender-oppressed people of all ethnicities, religions, and sexualities. In doing so, they join the ranks of women who have led protests, strikes, and movements throughout history.

Let’s celebrate a few of those women:

Dorothy Height (March 24, 1912—April 20, 2010)

Originally posted by womenthrive

Dorothy Height, former President of the National Council of Negro Women, was one of the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington. She stood near Martin Luther King Jr. during his “I Have a Dream” speech, but did not publicly speak that day. In fact, no woman publicly spoke. “Even on the morning of the march there had been appeals to include a woman speaker,” wrote Height in her memoir. “They were happy to include women in the human family, but there was no question as to who headed the household!“ In 1971, she helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus with other notable feminists like Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Shirley Chisholm.

Marsha P. Johnson (August 24, 1945—July 6, 1992)

Originally posted by dannisue

Marsha P. Johnson spent her entire adult life fighting for the rights of LGBTQ people. She’s credited for being one of the first to fight back in the Stonewall Riots. She started the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries with her friend Sylvia Rivera. Together they provided food, shelter, and care to young drag queens, trans women, and homeless children in need in the Lower East Side of NYC. She fought for what was right, and knew how to live life with exuberance and humor. When asked by a judge what what the “P” stood for, she replied “Pay It No Mind.”

Alice Paul (January 11, 1885—July 9, 1977)

Originally posted by taryndraws

Alice Paul was one of the leading forces behind the Nineteenth Amendment, which affirmed and enshrined a woman’s right to vote. She rallied 8,000 people to march in the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington—no small task in a world before the internet—with an estimated half million people watching the historic moment from the sidelines.

And some good activist blogs to follow:

  • Emily’s List (@emilys-list) slogan is “ignite change.” They aim to do so by backing pro-choice candidates for US office in key races across the country.
  • Women of Color in Solidarity (@wocinsolidarity) focuses on being a hub for the the WOC experience in the US. Original posts, incredibly informative reblogs…this place is wonderful.

“Depicting women in chains was ubiquitous in suffrage cartoons from the 1910s, in which women sought to be emancipated by gaining the right to vote.

…Wonder Woman is bound in almost every one of her adventures, usually in chains. The bondage in Wonder Woman comics raised hackles with [publisher Max] Gaines’s editorial advisory board, but [Wonder Woman co-creator William Moulton] Marston insisted that Wonder Woman had to be chained or tied so that she could free herself — and, symbolically, emancipate herself.

—From “The Secret History of Wonder Woman” by Jill Lepore

Can we please do away with the notion that bondage in 1940s Wonder Woman comics is nothing more than her creator’s sexual kink? 

She was the first woman to...

…travel around the world in a damned Zeppelin.

Originally posted by lego-stories

Lady Hay Drummond-Hay (September 12, 1895—February 12, 1946) was a star journalist who became the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, and she did it in a damned Zeppelin. She went on to report from war zones like Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) and Manchuria (now part of China), fell into a tumultuous romance with a fellow reporter, and was eventually captured by the Japanese during WWII.

…swim the English Channel.

Originally posted by hero-generator

Gertrude Ederle (October 23, 1905 – November 30, 2003) was a competitive swimmer, Olympic champion, and at one time held five world records. If there was a world record for coolest nickname she would’ve held six, because hers was “Queen of the Waves.” When Ederle set out to become the first woman to swim the English channel, she used motorcycle goggles and sealed the edges with wax to keep the salt water out of her eyes. Due to unfavorable and violent wind conditions twelve hours into her 14 hour and 34 minute journey, her trainer shouted at her to get out of the water and into his boat. She reportedly popped her head up from the water to simply ask “what for?” 

travel around the world in less than 80 days.

Originally posted by meedean

Nellie Bly (May 5, 1864—January 27, 1922) asked her editor at the New York World if she could take a stab at turning the story Around the World in 80 Days from fiction to fact. Using railways and steamships, Bly chuggah-chuggahed and toot-tooted the nearly 25,000 mile trip in just 72 days, meeting Jules Verne and buying a monkey along the way. If her name sounds familiar but these stories don’t, it’s probably because you’ve heard about how she once faked a mental illness so she could write an exposé on psychiatric asylums. Or maybe it’s because of her famed coverage of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913. Or maybe it’s because you’re a big fan of farming and industrialist patents and heard she invented a novel milk can and a stacking garbage can. Nellie Bly did a lot in her short 57 years. 

Follow these Tumblrs for more Women’s History:

  • Stuff You Missed in History Class (@missedinhistory) is not exclusively about women, but hoo boy, it turns out most history classes aren’t great at teaching us about women’s history. You’ll learn a lot here. 
  • The New-York Historical Society (@nyhistory) has been pulling articles, artifacts, and documents deep from the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library this Women’s History Month. 

Another set of bookplates recently found while cataloging. Fun fact about the last one shown here:  Helen was born in Hannibal, Missouri, on July 25, 1873. She received her education in both public and private schools in Boston, MA. She married Rev. Minot Simons in Boston on December 18, 1894. The couple had one son, Langdon, and eventually settled down in Cleveland, Ohio, where Minot served as minister for a Unitarian church. Helen was an active member of the Woman Suffrage Party.

On January 29, 1866, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, leader of the Radical Republicans in the House of Representatives, presented one of the first of several hundred petitions for universal suffrage on the floor of the House of Representatives. Signers of this petition included Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Susan B. Anthony; and members of the former Women’s Loyal National League, Ernestine Rose, Lucy Stone, and Antoinette Brown Blackwell. This exceptional combination of signatures represents some of the period’s foremost advocates for suffrage and abolition.

Petition of E. Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Others on Universal Suffrage, ca. 1865, HR39A-H1.9, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (NAID 306684)


1913 - Crashing the inauguration to demand the vote.

After walking 234 miles in 17 days, the pilgrims arrived in Washington in time for the main event, which was officially dubbed The Woman Suffrage Procession.

In late 1912, the American movement for women’s suffrage was facing a frustrating lack of progress at the national level.

After a few blocks, the surrounding crowds spilled into the street, blocking the way. As the marchers struggled through, sometimes in single file, they were heckled, tripped, shoved and showered with abuse.

The police were hardly helpful. Some even joined in the harassment. Ambulances had to squeeze through the masses to reach injured marchers. A hundred women were hospitalized.

The mistreatment of the marchers at the hands of the mob and police was widely witnessed and provoked an outcry. Congressional hearings were held, the superintendent of police was fired and the marchers’ cause gained wider visibility and support — on March 8, the Women’s Journal triumphantly declared, “Nation Aroused by Open Insults to Women — Cause Wins Popular Sympathy.”

The event provided a shot in the arm to the suffrage movement, but it would take another seven years of tireless and painful activism before the 19th Amendment was finally passed and ratified.


Sunflower Suffrage Shawl by Katherine Durak

Elizabeth Cady Stanton used the pen name “Sunflower” around the time of the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848. The sunflower with 1848 in its center became a symbol of the National American Woman Suffrage Association that continued to appear into the 1900’s.


This week’s material is titled Woman Suffrage and Politics. Signed and authored by Carrie Chapman Catt and published in New York in 1923, three years after the addition of the 19th amendment, this book discusses the intersection where women’s suffrage and American politics met. 

The book states that the movement was galvanized by two previous ones, dubbed “the man movement”, which attempted to evolve the control of governments in the favor of the people, and “the woman movement”, in which women wanted to be free of the patriarchal systems that law, religion, tradition, and customs bound them to. After these two were successful, suffrage was the obvious next step. 

Later, in the political realm, a surprising majority were in favor of both black men’s and white women’s suffrage, but the rhetoric was that both were not likely to be accepted if done at the same time. The black man was decided to be first, with the phrase “this is the negro’s hour” being the common response to women’s appeals.

“The woman’s hour will come.” Between the adoption of the 15th amendment (March 30, 1870), and 1910 were 40 tiresome years of suffragettes wishing, waiting, and hoping for their hour to come. Eventually, the women’s hour came in the form of referendum votes on a state-by-state basis. Some states took the referendum to the supreme court, hailing unconstitutionality, but grievances were thrown out one by one. Eventually the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, and remains in law today and forever. 

This reading was important to me because not only was it written by a woman who had to fight tirelessly for her rights, but also it came to me two days after there were two women on the ballot to be president of the United States. Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, the ability to bear witness to history is a phenomena to be cherished and celebrated. A meager 97 years ago, women could not vote. We sure have come a long way. 

Not that my opinion holds much weight in the tumblrverse but..

I get the frustration about the Suffrage campaign shirts. This is because:

1. Its downplaying the position of being a slave. a rebel isn’t the antonym of slave. by definition a ‘rebel’ is- a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or leader. Now, a slave is- (especially in the past) a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.The antonym for slave is( you guessed it!) ‘MASTER’. the antonym for rebel is ‘conform’. Slaves were in no position to conform because legally they were seen as property. Conforming suggests that they are in the position to do so. Hopefully you are seeing how slave and conform are on different scales because they don’t relate in terms of severity. I’m not saying that in those days women weren’t seen as property but it is no way on the scale of that of a slave. Some might say “but both women and slaves could have been bought at that period in time”. Also correct however, marriage wasn’t always compulsory. This leads to the next point…

2. The existence of choice. there were many women who didn’t marry and were regarded as ‘spinsters’. They were able to make a choice to either be married or not. Women could leave their husbands and still have a financial status that’s better than a slaves. Slaves were viewed as objects who took on the physical form of humans. Black people in those days didn’t even have the same rights as white women because they weren’t even seen as human so you cant equate ‘rebel’ with ‘slave’. Family pets were probably treated better than a lot of slaves who had owners who saw them as less than.

3. Nowadays the term ‘rebel’ isn’t always regarded as the way it is defined. a lot of us associate it with going against the grain and not doing what the in crowd is doing, sometimes with the motive of appearing to be ‘cool’. This immediately causes a conflict between those who read the shirt and those wearing the shirt because it seems as if they’re unaware of the way the phrase would be interpreted or read. I shouldn’t at my age have to correct old ass women on whats appropriate and whats not. Especially considering the numerous cases of gun violence against people of colour with aim to eliminate us. Basically, they should know better. Hence why the comparison is futile.

4. It doesn’t help that they’re all white women. Therefore it seems like a mockery or slavery and as decedents we don’t take lightly to such situations. Its just insensitive, that’s the only way to put it.

On election day I am 1000% not cynical about the democratic process. I just cast my vote for the first woman president of the United States of America and I’m crying from joy. Today I remember all the women across the world who fought and still fight for suffrage. This morning I honored the American women who were jailed and institutionalized and brutalized, force-fed, humiliated in every imaginable way yet STILL THEY FOUGHT.  With my paper ballot and a felt-tipped marker in hand I voted. Now I proudly sport that tiny sticker with the American flag that says simply: “I voted.” I voted. 


And countless others. THANK YOU!

Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929), qualified as a physician in 1878

Art by Ambrea (tumblr, instagram, twitter)

Aletta enrolled at the University of Groningen in 1871 as the Netherland’s first female university student.  In 1878, she graduated from Amsterdam University as the country’s first female physician.  After graduation, Aletta ran a free clinic for women and children in Amsterdam.  She offered pessaries to her patients and her clinic is sometimes considered the world’s first birth control clinic.

Aletta was also involved in the women’s rights movement both at home and abroad. She was a founding member of the Vereeniging voor Vrouwenkiesrecht (Dutch Woman Suffrage Alliance), the International Woman Suffrage Alliance, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.  

In 1883, Aletta attempted to vote.  At the times, women were not explicitly forbidden from voting in the Netherlands, but there was an income requirement which Aletta met.  In response, the Dutch Parliament added the word “male” to the list of voting qualifications in 1887.  Dutch women were not granted the right to vote until 1919.