Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders

The National American Woman Suffrage Association Reinvigorated

By 1910, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and its affiliated state and local organizations were showing new life. Between 1910 and 1920, the NAWSA and its state and local affiliates undertook numerous large-scale campaigns to win suffrage for women in individual states. In most states, suffragists first had to lobby state legislatures to put a woman suffrage measure before state voters. Then suffragists had to undertake a massive campaign, involving speaking tours, meetings, marches, door-to-door canvassing, and publicity blitzes, to convince male voters to vote for woman suffrage.

In the early 1910s, the still weak NAWSA could provide little support to state and local organizations, and thus the responsibility for undertaking these campaigns fell largely on the shoulders of state organizations. In 1910, suffragists were successful in winning the vote in Washington, ending a fourteen-year period in which no state victories had been won. In 1911, suffragists organized a successful campaign in California. In 1912, suffragists undertook campaigns in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Arizona, and Oregon. Of these, the Kansas, Arizona, and Oregon campaigns were successful. In 1914, campaigns in Montana and Nevada were successful, but campaigns in North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Missouri, and Nebraska all failed. In 1915, four campaigns – in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania – were all unsuccessful. However, the unsuccessful campaigns laid the groundwork for future victories. The New York campaign was particularly important. Carrie Chapman Catt had returned to suffrage work to organize the campaign, and working in tandem with Harriot Stanton Blatch’s Women’s Political Union, suffragists had significantly increased their support in the state.

As late as 1915, however, the NAWSA was still rife with internal divisions. Some western women resented the organization’s eastern leadership. Some southern members, such as Kate M. Gordon and Laura Clay, advocated extending the vote to white women only, in order to preserve white supremacy in the South.
Convention Call
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Call for the NAWSA's 1908 Convention, Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collection Division, NAWSA Miller Scrapbook Collection

Ohio and Nevada Campaigns
omen campaign in Ohio, 1912, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division;
Women campaign in Nevada, 1914, Carrie Chapman Catt Collection, Bryn Mawr College Library


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Anna Howard Shaw, Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Stone Blackwell, Laura Clay, Kate M. Gordon, Jane Addams, Florence Kelley, Mary Garret Hay, Miriam Folline (Frank) Leslie, Katherine Dexter McCormick, Catherine Gougher Waugh McCulloch, Maud Wood Park, Harriet Taylor Upton, Abigail Scott Duniway, Rose Schneiderman, Jeannette Rankin


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