Women's Suffrage History

Presented by the Alabama State Bar

The Alabama State Bar is proud to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Congress’s passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote. From the early 1800s, women across the country organized, wrote, and protested in favor of equal voting rights.

It was not until 1878 that an amendment guaranteeing women’s suffrage was introduced to Congress. On June 4, 1919, Congress passed what became the 19th Amendment, readying it for ratification by the states on August 18, 1920. Here, we chronicle the history of women’s suffrage across the world, and share some of the best written and visual resources on the American journey to women’s voting rights.

Read, listen and learn more »

Events

Sample Event Name

July 17, 2019
Sample Event Location, Montgomery, AL

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Sample Event Name

July 17, 2019
Sample Event Location, Montgomery, AL

Vestibulum posuere non quam in semper. Integer in mi tortor. Aliquam erat volutpat.

Donec consequat, nibh sit amet bibendum tristique, lorem urna fringilla sapien, id ullamcorper purus lorem nec risus. In dapibus, orci sed vulputate convallis.

Sample Event Name

July 17, 2019
Sample Event Location, Montgomery, AL

Vestibulum posuere non quam in semper. Integer in mi tortor. Aliquam erat volutpat.

Donec consequat, nibh sit amet bibendum tristique, lorem urna fringilla sapien, id ullamcorper purus lorem nec risus. In dapibus, orci sed vulputate convallis.

Resources

From the Archives

Browse historical documents from the collection of the Alabama Department of Archives & History.

  • Scrapbook on Education and Women’s Suffrage: A scrapbook created by Ellen Hildreth of New Decatur, Alabama that contains clippings, correspondence, programs, publications, broadsides, photographs, and other memorabilia. Among correspondents are Carrie Chapman Catt, Laura Clay, Susan B. Anthony, and Helen Keller.
  • Brochures for Women’s Continuing Education: hree brochures (one from Auburn University at Montgomery and two from Alabama State University in Montgomery) from the 1970s that encouraged women to seek education and careers.
  • Pro-Suffrage Broadside: A pro-suffrage broadside from the early 20th century advocating for equal suffrage rights regardless of race.
  • “Votes for Colored Women”: An anti-suffrage flier from the early 20th century discouraging the passage of the 19th amendment because it would lead to the enfranchisement of African American women.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

Celebrate our democracy by participating in the legislative process here in Alabama and nationwide. Contact your legislators and find out how to register to vote below.

Alabama

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United States

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Exhibits

See photos, artifacts, and other items of significance from the times of the fight for women’s suffrage.

Centennial Commemorations & History

Read more about the history of women’s suffrage in Alabama, and see more on the celebration of the 19th Amendment.

Listen & Read

Listen: Our Playlist​

We’ve compiled a list of inspiring songs to accompany your journey through the history of women’s suffrage. Just click play below to listen!

Singles

Brave by Sara Barielles

Rebel Girl by Bikini Kill

Try by Colbie Caillat

Miss Independent by Kelly Clarkson

Stronger by Kelly Clarkson

You Gotta Be by Des’ree

Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves by Eurythmics feat. Aretha Franklin

Respect by Aretha Franklin

You Don’t Own Me by Lesley Gore

I’m Every Woman by Whitney Houston

The Pill by Loretta Lynn

Paths of Victory by Odetta

9 to 5 by Dolly Parton

Just Because I’m A Woman by Dolly Parton

Roar by Katy Perry

Fight Song by Rachel Platten

I Am Woman by Helen Reddy

Different Drum by The Stone Poneys feat. Linda Ronstadt

Ain’t Got No – I Got Life by Nina Simone

She Works Hard for the Money by Donna Summer

Albums

Songs of the Suffragettes by Elizabeth Knight

Video

Bad Romance Parody: Women’s Suffrage (click to view)

Read & Watch: Bibliography

Our bibliography contains works for all age groups covering the history of women’s suffrage in Alabama and across the United States. Download it as a PDF here, or click any of the headings below to browse the list.

A Protest Against Women’s Suffrage in Alabama

After the Vote Was Won: The Later Achievements of Fifteen Suffragists

Alice Paul and the American Suffrage: The Campaign

Daughters of a Nation: A Black Suffragette Historical Romance Anthology

The Methuen Drama Book of Suffrage Plays, 1st Edition

Rise Up Women!: The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes

Votes for Women: The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited (Viewpoints on American Culture)

Sisters: The Lives of America’s Suffragists

Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Singular Feminist

With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote

A Look at the Nineteenth Amendment: Women Win the Right to Vote

Women’s Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement

Treacherous Texts: U.S. Suffrage Literature, 1846-1946

Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment (Points in History)

Remembering Inez: The Last Campaign of Inez Miholland, Suffrage Martyr

Votes for Women: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot

The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide, 1866-1928

Alabama Women: Their Lives and Times (Southern Women: Their Lives and Times)

Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women’s Movement in America, 1848-1869

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton-Susan B. Anthony Reader: Correspondence, Writing, Speeches

Fighting Chance: The Struggle over Women Suffrage and Black Suffrage in Reconstruction America

Women’s Suffrage: A Short History of a Great Movement (Classic Reprint)

The Disfranchisement Myth: Poor Whites and Suffrage Restriction in Alabama (Choice Outstanding Academic Books)

Selling Suffrage: Consumer Culture and Votes for Women

Anna Howard Shaw: The Work of Woman Suffrage

Suffrage Reconstructed: Gender, Race and Voting Rights in the Civil Rights Era

Women’s Suffrage in America: An Eyewitness History

Southern Strategies: Southern Women and the Woman Suffrage Question

From Parlor to Prison

Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull

How Women Got the Vote: The Story of Women’s Suffrage Movement in America

The Suffrage Cook Book (Classic Reprint)

Free at Last to Vote: The Alabama Origins of the 1965 Voting Rights Act

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence

Minnie Fisher Cunningham: A Suffragist’s Life in Politics

100 Years of the Nineteenth Amendment: An Appraisal of Women’s Political Activism

The Woman Suffrage Movement in America: A Reassessment

The Suffragists in Literature for Youth: The Fight for the Vote

Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites Who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote

Women Together: A History of Documents of the Women’s Movement in the United States

Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography

One Hundred Years of Struggle: The History of Women and the Vote in Canada

Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics 1830-1930

Susan B. Anthony: In Her Own Words

The Valiant Nellie McClung: Selected Writings by Canada’s Most Famous Suffragist

Suffragists in the Imperial Age: U.S. Expansion and the Woman Question: 1870-1927

A Voice of Their Own: The Woman Suffrage Press, 1840-1910

Votes for Women!: The Story of Carrie Chapman Catt

The Women’s Bible: A Classic Feminist Perspective

Jailed for Freedom: American Women Win the Vote

The New Woman in Alabama: Social Reforms and Suffrage 1980-1920

The Women’s Suffrage Movement Paperback

A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot

Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote

The Women’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote

One Woman, One Vote: Rediscovering the Women’s Suffrage Movement

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Alice Paul: Claiming Power

A Voice From the Wilderness: The Story of Anna Howard Shaw

Why Couldn’t Susan B. Anthony Vote?: And Other Questions About Women’s Suffrage

You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

Chasing Freedom: The Life Journeys of Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony, Inspired by Historical Facts

A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights

You Come to Yokum

She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!

Secrets on 26th Street (American Girl History Mysteries #5)

If You Lived When Women Won Their Rights

Mama Went to Jail for the Vote

Bold & Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote

You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Suffragist!: A Protest Movement That’s Rougher Than You Expected (You Wouldn’t Want to…)

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President

The Ballot Box Battle

Suffrage Sisters: The Fight for Liberty

Marching with Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage

Who Was Susan B. Anthony?

Elizabeth Started All the Trouble

Two Friends: Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass

Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles

Created Equal: Women Campaign for the Right to Vote 1840-1920

The Taxing Case of the Cows: A True Story About Suffrage

Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote

Susan B. Anthony

Voting Rights Days (Hitty’s Travels, #3)

I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote

When Esther Morris Headed West: Women, Wyoming, and the Right to Vote

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage

Before the US

American women gained the right to vote in 1920 via the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. However, eleven countries granted women voting rights prior to the United States. See the timeline below.

New Zealand

September 19, 1893

New Zealand becomes the first self-governing country in the world to grant women the right to vote when its governor, Lord Glasgow, signs the Electoral Act into law.

Source: New Zealand women and the vote, govt.nz

September 19, 1893
April 10, 1902

Australia *

April 10, 1902

Parliament enacts the Commonwealth Franchise Act. Women over the age of 21 become able to vote in national elections, and stand for the Australia Parliament, regardless of whether or not they have the right to vote in their home states.

Source: Franchise Act, National Museum of Australia

Finland

June 1, 1906

The Diet, the legislative assembly of the Grand Duchy of Finland, approves electoral reforms establishing universal suffrage.

Source: When everyone got the vote, Finland.fi

June 1, 1906
June 11, 1913

Norway

June 11, 1913

With no members speaking in the debate, the Norwegian Parliament unanimously votes for women's suffrage. Norway becomes the first sovereign state in the world to introduce universal suffrage.

Source: 100 years of voting, Norwegians Worldwide

Denmark

June 5, 1915

King Christian X signs the constitution passed by parliament. This replacement of the 1849 and 1866 constitutions, which reserved political office and voting rights for head-of-household men over 30, grants all Danish citizens the right to vote and run for office.

Source: Denmark marks 100 years of women's rights, TheLocal.dk

June 5, 1915
April 12, 1917

Estonia

April 12, 1917

While under the control of the Russian Provisional Government, Estonian women were granted the right to vote along with Estonia gaining autonomy as a nation. Later, in 1920, universal suffrage was included in independent Estonia's constitution.

Source: Women's Suffrage in Estonia, Red Yellow Blue

Russia

July 20, 1917

The Provisional Government issues a decree granting voting rights for women aged 20. A mass rally on March 19, 1917, with over 40,000 marchers, saw protestors occupying the Tauride Palace grounds until the Provisional Government and Soviet committed to women's suffrage.

Source: Equality & Revolution, by Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

July 20, 1917
May 24, 1918

Canada **

May 24, 1918

Women not included in racial and Indigenous exclusions become eligible to vote in federal elections, regardless of their provincial franchise status.

Source: Women's Suffrage in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia

Georgia

May 26, 1918

In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Georgia declares itself an independent republic on May 26, 1918. Equality regardless of race, sex and religion were among its founding principles, including women's suffrage.

Source: #GEORGIA100, Embassy of Georgia to the United States

May 26, 1918
1918

Austria, Germany, Kyrgyzstan and Poland

1918

Throughout 1918, women are granted the right to vote across Europe. The legislative bodies of Austria and Germany approve women's suffrage; Poland grants the right by decree of Provisional Chief of State Józef Piłsudski. The Soviet government grants universal suffrage to the Kyrgyz SSR.

Source: 100 years of women's right to vote in Poland, Poland.pl et al

Latvia

November 18, 1918

Latvia becomes an independent nation by declaration of the People's Council of Latvia. As a territory of the Russian Empire, Latvian women had been granted the right to vote in 1905; universal suffrage in independent Latvia was granted by the Law on Elections to the Constitutional Assembly.

Source: The Struggle for Female Suffrage in Europe: Voting to Become Citizens, Brill

November 18, 1918
February 4, 1919

Belarus

February 4, 1919

While the nation was under Soviet control, Belarussian women were granted suffrage nationwide.

Source: New Parline, Inter-Parliamentary Union

The Netherlands

May 9, 1919

The Dutch House of Representatives votes 64-10 in favor of women's suffrage, granting women within the Dutch mainland the right to vote.

Source: Hundred years of universal suffrage, a celebration, HouseOfRepresentatives.nl

May 9, 1919
October 26, 1919

Luxembourg

May 9, 1919

After a parliamentary act, all Luxembourg citizens, including women, gained the right to vote. Previously, voting was limited to property owners, and only 25% of men were able to vote.

Source: Right to vote, Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

* Aboriginal men and women were not granted the right to vote until 1962.

** First Nations men and women did not become eligible to vote until 1960.

Resolution

The Alabama Legislature has passed a resolution recognizing the Alabama Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee. It states:

WHEREAS, a proposed women’s suffrage amendment was first introduced in the United States Senate in 1878 and was brought to a vote, unsuccessfully, in 1887, 1914, 1918, and 1919; and

WHEREAS, during 1919 and 1920, the Sixty-Sixth Congress debated, and the state legislatures considered, an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to provide suffrage for women; and

WHEREAS, on May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives approved a proposed amendment, followed by the United States Senate on June 4; several state legislatures followed within a few days of the approval of the amendment; and

WHEREAS, on August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the amendment, providing the support of three-fouths of states necessary under Article V of the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, Alabama’s celebration of the centennial of women’s suffrage offers an opportunity for Alabamians to learn more about, and commemorate, the efforts of the women’s suffrage movement and the role of women in our democracy; now therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That we endorse the efforts of the existing Alabama Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee for the purpose of leading the state in its centennial commemoration of women’s suffrage, and hereby resolve to support the Alabama Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee in promoting, planning, and executing the Committee’s historic, educational, celebratory, and cultural initiatives to observe and commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage in the State of Alabama.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we encourage the Secretary of State to provide support to the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage Committee, through his position as Alabama’s election official and his efforts to educate Alabamians about20the importance of the right to vote and voter participation.

Download Resolution (PDF)

Resolution