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Women's Suffrage Card, Chautauqua County, c. 1918

Suffrage Card, Chautauqua County, NY

New York State Archives, NYSA_A0412-78_B04_F01_SuffrageCardFront
Document Description
Front of a women's suffrage card of Chautauqua County, N.Y. The card asks for people to vote for women's suffrage, c. 1918.
On what grounds does this suffrage card advocate for women’s suffrage?  How did U.S. involvement in WWI help women gain support for these issues?
How does this suffrage card show the expanding role of women in society?  How does it show gender inequality?
Historical Challenges
What do the political, economic, and social climates of the progressive era tell us about the reasons why the 19th amendment was ratified in the year 1920?
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: You are a suffragette in 1917; write a letter to your newspaper detailing your experiences in jail after you were arrested for protesting.
You are a volunteer nurse overseas in World War I, write a letter to your boyfriend explaining why women’s suffrage is important to you.
Kennedy, David, et al. The American Volume 2: Since 1865. 13th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.


Historical Context
Prior to WWI, the women's suffrage movement had been gaining momentum through the formation of organizations like NAWSA (National American Women's Suffrage Association) and the emergence of leaders like Susan B. Anthony, a Western New Yorker.  Women's roles politically, culturally, and occupationally were also expanding, giving them even more motivation and solid ground on which to fight for their right to vote.  Additionally, by the early 20th century states like California, Idaho, and Washington, among others, had granted women the right to vote through state referendums.  The emergence of the “Progressive Era”, an era of social reform, propelled the issue of women’s suffrage into the forefront of domestic politics.

New York State had been a hot spot for suffragist activity since the mid-1800s, with events like the Seneca Falls Convention which highlighted women’s rights issues.  In 1912, a presidential election year, women organized in New York City for a march aimed at drawing attention to the issue of women suffrage.  By 1917, another women’s suffrage organization, NWP (National Women’s Party) formed out of NASWA because of differences between members’ strategy and tactics on how to ensure gender equality.  The NWP focused on the passage of the 19th amendment, while NAWSA advocated for individual state referendums.

Prior to WWI women’s occupational role was generally limited to certain types of jobs that were considered “women’s work”, like jobs in the clothing or textile industry.  However, once the U.S. entered into WWI women slowly began to assume jobs in the manufacturing sector for war industries and also volunteered as nurses or with the Red Cross.  To the American public the war itself symbolized a fight for democratic beliefs and ideals.  This ideological ground for the war only provided more of a driving force for the women’s suffrage movement. 
Essential Question
Why do citizens participate in national issues?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of this program and evaluate the validity of the argument.