100 Years of Women's Suffrage

We are proud this week to feature several books about the 19th Amendment. Below, Bookseller Deb talks a little bit about this as well as providing some of her book recommendations...

"This week we celebrate a momentous occasion. It is 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment which barred states from denying women the right to vote because of their sex. Like a lot of American history, this accomplishment has been reduced to a snapshot which ignored the intense battle to convince states to vote for the amendment. The suffragist movement was closely aligned with the abolitionist cause in the period before the Civil War. The two most familiar names associated with the movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, were instrumental in organizing men, women, white, and people of color to proselytize for women’s suffrage. 

However, the proposal for the 15th Amendment which would enfranchise Black men, but not black women showed a deep division in the suffragist group. When some, including Stanton and Anthony, believed that Black men should not have the vote before white women, they left the American Equal Rights Association to form The National Women’s Suffrage Association, whose mission was to get universal suffrage, but adamantly asserting that Black men should not get the vote first.  Their racist remarks alienated not only Black women but many others who had been their allies such as Frederick Douglass and Francis Ellen Watkins Harper, one of the most dedicated Black proponents of women’s suffrage. 

In a desperate attempt to boost acceptance of women’s suffrage, leaders of the movement decided to link to with White Supremacists groups, turning their backs on the supporters who had worked for decades to promote suffrage for all women.  The struggle to convince 36 states to ratify the amendment came down to the wire. Most of the states expected to vote in support had already committed one way or the other.  The last chance was Tennessee, not exactly a liberal bastion. Tens of thousands of people poured into Nashville, to try and lobby for both sides. When the vote came, the result was tied with only one more congressman to go. He had been expected to vote nay, thereby bringing the measure to defeat for the entire country. What the other congressmen didn’t know was that this young man had just received a letter from his mother, urging him to vote yes. As a good son, young Harry Burn did as his mother asked, and thereby gave women the vote.  The fight continued as White Supremacists argued that women of color were prohibited from voting, not because of their sex, but because of their race. Ridiculous measures such as poll taxes or literacy tests including having to recite the entire Constitution were used to disenfranchise women of color. Native American women achieved suffrage in 1962, but Black women were not guaranteed the right to vote until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

We have several books in stock that will help you explore this fascinating piece of history in more depth."


Staff Pick Badge
Women Win the Vote!: 19 for the 19th Amendment By Nancy B. Kennedy, Katy Dockrill (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Nancy B. Kennedy, Katy Dockrill (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781324004141
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Norton Young Readers - February 11th, 2020

Women Win the Vote! maps the road to the Nineteenth Amendment through compact, readable biographies of nineteen women who helped pave the way. From early feminist activist Lucretia Mott to radical twentieth century suffragist Alice Paul, this vibrant collection profiles both iconic figures like Sojourner Truth and those who may be less well-known, like Mary Ann Shadd Cary.

Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot By Winifred Conkling Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616209889
Availability: Backordered
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - January 7th, 2020

 "This is a fascinating account of the bumpy road to women's suffrage in the U.S. . . . Well-chosen black-and-white archival reproductions and photographs ably support the text, which makes excellent use of primary sources, including excerpts from letters and writings to bring key personalities to life."
--The Horn Book Magazine, starred review


Suffrage: Women's Long Battle for the Vote By Ellen Carol DuBois Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501165160
Published: Simon & Schuster - February 25th, 2020

 "This is a great American story, beautifully told. Ellen DuBois enables us to appreciate the drama of the long battle for women's suffrage and the heroism of many of its advocates, as well as the movement's imperfections. At a time when many of our constitutional rights are under assault, this is an especially relevant piece of our national history."--Eric Foner, author of The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

The Women's Suffrage Movement By Sally Roesch Wagner (Editor), Sally Roesch Wagner (Introduction by), Gloria Steinem (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Sally Roesch Wagner (Editor), Sally Roesch Wagner (Introduction by), Gloria Steinem (Foreword by)
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ISBN: 9780143132431
Published: Penguin Classics - March 5th, 2019

  "The most comprehensive intersectional anthology of writing about the women's suffrage movement published to-date... Not only does The Women's Suffrage Movement expose readers to the long-neglected intersectional history of women's rights in America--celebrating the activism and writing of not just these Indigenous women, but women of a wide diversity of races and classes--it also serves as a reminder to readers that political gains once won can be lost, that rights and freedoms once enjoyed can be swiftly taken away if we stop paying attention."

The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote By Elaine Weiss Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143128991
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - March 5th, 2019

 "At the heart of democracy lies the ballot box, and Elaine Weiss's unforgettable book tells the story of the female leaders who--in the face of towering economic, racial, and political opposition--fought for and won American women's right to vote. Unfolding over six weeks in the summer of 1920, The Woman's Hour is both a page-turning drama and an inspiration for everyone, young and old, male and female, in these perilous times.” - Hillary Rodham Clinton

Citizen Woman: An Illustrated History of the Women's Movement By Jane Gerhard (Editor), Dan Tucker (Editor) Cover Image
By Jane Gerhard (Editor), Dan Tucker (Editor)
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ISBN: 9783791385303
Published: Prestel - March 23rd, 2020

The first of its kind, this fully illustrated history of women's rights offers a gripping account of the struggle for equality across the globe. In six chapters it covers issues that are critical to women everywhere: the right to vote, reproductive freedom, marital and property rights, workplace equality, oppressive notions of beauty, racial equality, and LGBTQ rights. Citizen Woman takes readers across continents to compare and contrast how women are faring in different cultures and societies.