March 8 is International Women’s Day, and this March also marks the 100th Anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington DC. Be sure to check out one of the latest boards on Pinterest, “A National Policy of Nagging,” documenting some of the struggles of early suffragists:
A National Policy of Nagging
Suffragists faced a difficult road in their march towards equality. Even women opposed giving women the right to vote. One letter from Alice H. Wadsworth, President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, calls it “an endorsement of nagging as a national policy.” March 3 marks 100 years since suffragists marched on Washington. In honor of this event, the 19th Amendment will be on display from March 1 to March 8, 2013.
(Ed. note: corrected 19th Amendment exhibit end date to March 8.)
Suffrage and suffering at the “Women’s Suffrage Parade” in Washington DC, March 3, 1913:
One hundred years ago on March 3, supporters of woman suffrage marched through Washington, DC. Held the day before Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration, the parade was preceded by a series of “suffrage hikes” in New York and elsewhere intended to bring attention to the lack of voting rights for women. However, the marchers were met by crowds of unruly men. The police did nothing, and the treatment of the women by the crowds caused an outcry.
The women testified about their experiences—some noted the lack of police or their indifference and applauded the Boy Scouts for being more effective than the police. Others described drunken men along the parade route hooting and jeering at them, blocking their path, and making insulting remarks (one young girl was called a “Georgia Peach”—an indignity at the time).
A resolution from the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage in King’s County noted that the women in the parade, “many of whom were among the finest intellectual leaders of their sex, were … subject to insult, ribaldry, and personal abuse.”
The day after the parade, the Senate passed a resolution authorizing the Committee on the District of Columbia to investigate the handling of the incident by the police.
This photograph of the parade comes from that investigation:
"Exhibit 36, View of the Woman Suffrage Parade from the Willard Hotel, Washington DC, from the Hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee of the District of Columbia of the United States Senate, pursuant to S. Res 499, March 4, 1913, 63rd Congress (Y4.D63/2:W84); RG 287, National Archives"
Read the full story of the parade and the hearing at Prologue: Pieces of History » Suffrage and suffering at the 1913 March
As 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of this watershed event, be sure to watch for more #Suffrage13 features from the National Archives, including:
March is Women’s History Month!
Photograph, Suffrage Parade, 1913
From the Series: Photographs Used in Publications, Records of the Office of War Information, Record Group 208
As March 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the watershed Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington DC, be sure to watch for more #Suffrage13 features from the National Archives, including:
The 19th Amendment for Women’s Suffrage on Display March 1 - 8:
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the 1913 Woman’s Suffrage Parade in Washington, DC, the 19th Amendment will be on display from March 1 to March 8 at the National Archives Building.
The 19th Amendment guarantees American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation. Beginning in the mid-19th century, woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered radical change…
Allied women in Paris to plead for international suffrage. Women, representing Allied Nations, who called upon the President during his stay in Paris, and asked to be given a place at the Peace Conference, to inquire into and report upon the conditions concerning women and children throughout the world.
First row, left to right: Mrs. J. Borden Harriman (United States); Mme. DeWitt Schlumberger (France); Mme. Pichon-Laudry (France). Second row: Mrs. Juliette Barrett Rublee (United States); Dr. Katherine Bennett Davis (United States), Mme. Brunsching. Third row: Mrs. Millicent Garrett Fawcett (Great Britain); Mrs. Oliver Stratchey (Great Britain); Miss Rosamond Smith (Great Britain). Fourth row: Mme. Brigode (Belgium); Marie Paunt (Belgium); Miss Nevia Boyle (South Africa); Mlle. Van den Plas (Belgium). Sixth row: Mme. Sonnine Capi (Italy); Mlle. Eva Mitzhouma (Poland). 02/27/1919
U.S. vs. Susan B. Anthony, Indictment for Illegal Voting, 01/24/1873
The indictment charges Susan B. Anthony with “wrongfully and unlawfully” voting for a candidate for Congress from the City of Rochester, New York.
On November 18, 1872 a deputy U.S. marshal arrested Susan B. Anthony for voting in the 1872 presidential election. She was indicted two months later for voting illegally on November 5, 1872, “being then and there a person of the female sex.” She was convicted in June and sentenced to pay a $100 fine and court costs.
On December 11, 1917, Alice Wadsworth, President of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, sent this petition to Congress arguing against a constitutional amendment that would grant women the right to vote. Mrs. Wadsworth argued that, “It would be an official endorsement of nagging as national policy.” Despite opposition such as this, Congress passed a joint resolution proposing the 19th Amendment in June of 1919. The 19th Amendment was ratified by the states on August 18, 1920.
Memorial of Alice Wadsworth of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, 12/11/1917, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 595295)
Eleanor Roosevelt casts her ballot in Hyde Park, NY, in 1936 and 1960.
Mrs. Roosevelt was not able to vote in a Presidential election until the age of 36, when the 19th amendment was added to the Constitution.
The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified on August 18, 1920, prohibits any United States citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex.
Image: Eleanor Roosevelt votes in Hyde Park, 11/03/1936 (ARC 196125), FDR Presidential Library
Image: Eleanor Roosevelt votes in Hyde Park, 11/06/1960 (ARC 195612), FDR Presidential Library
In 1942, Michigan Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg introduced Senate Joint Resolution 166 which would have amended the U.S. Constitution to extend the vote to citizens 18 years of age or older. Although not ratified at the time, the proposal came up again during the Vietnam War. The 26th Amendment was ratified on July 1, 1971 after being passed by Congress just a few months earlier. Although not necessary for the amendment to become law, President Richard Nixon, accompanied by several 18-year old witnesses, signed the amendment on July 5, 1971.
Learn more about the Constitutional Amendment Process.
Senate Joint Resolution 166 Proposing the 26th Amendment, 10/19/1942 (ARC 1633716)
On June 4, 1919, the suffrage amendment passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the states for ratification. Initial efforts to secure the right to vote for women in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s achieved some success at the state level, but women’s organizations finally concluded that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution was essential for woman suffrage. World War I played an important role in helping women achieve the right to vote as many women began to work outside the home to support the war effort. In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson called for a Constitutional amendment, and though the House passed a woman suffrage amendment in 1918, it failed in the Senate, largely because of the opposition from southern states. After the amendment passed Congress in 1919, many states quickly approved it, and on August 18, 1920 Tennessee became the 36th state to approve the amendment. Two weeks later, on August 26, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby signed the certification that the required number of states had ratified the Nineteenth Amendment. However, in early 1920, five states rejected the amendment. Mississippi was among them. Political cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman portrays the Mississippi rejection as an April Fool’s joke played on the suffrage movement.
April First by Clifford K. Berryman, 4/1/1920, U.S. Senate Collection (ARC 6011595)
Before “Rosie the Riveter”
Women riveters pose for the camera at the Navy Yard in Puget Sound, Washington. Taken on May 29, 1919, a generation before the more famous World War II image of “Rosie the Riveter,” this photograph shows women working in industrial jobs traditionally filled by men, just as women did during World War II.
Women Rivet Heaters and Passers on, Ship Construction Work. Navy Yard, Puget Sound, Washington.
Women munition workers urge President to support suffrage bill. Six women war workers, representing thousands of others, were delegated to see President Wilson and urge him to support the motion for an immediate passage of the federal suffrage amendment. These women were employed at Bethlehem Steel Company’s plant at Newcastle, Pennsylvania. They supplemented their argument with the statement that the women are serving the government in war industries and feel the urgent need of federal enfranchisement. From left to right: Miss Mary Gonzon, Mrs. Florence B. Hilles, Miss Lulu Patterson, Mrs. Marie McKensie, Miss Aida Walling and Mrs. Catherine Boyle. 05/24/1918
On May 19, 1919 House Joint Resolution 1 was introduced. The resolution proposed a Constitutional amendment extending the right to vote to women. The resolution was passed in the House on May 21, and in the Senate on June 4. Once the proposed amendment passed Congress, it was sent to states for ratification. On August 18, 1920 the amendment was ratified and became part of the U.S. Constitution.
House Joint Resolution 1, 5/19/1919, HR 66A-B6, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 1633885)
On May 15, 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, decades later this delegation of women had a meeting with President Wilson.
This delegation of officers of the National American Woman Suffrage Association received from President Wilson a memorial to the French women in which he advocates the federal woman suffrage amendment. The picture was made on steps leading to executive offices of the White House. Front row, left to right: Mrs. Wood Park, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, Mrs. Helen H. Gardner: second row, Miss Rose Young, Mrs. George Bass, and Miss Ruth White.
Putting Women on the Map: New Women’s History Collections on Historypin
March is Women’s History Month and March 8 is International Women’s Day! To celebrate, the National Archives has created four new collections focusing on women of the past in on Historypin.
The Women at Work collection depicts the role of women in the workforce throughout our national life – in farms, shipyards, hospitals, manufacturing plants, markets, and in the aviation industry - including “Mrs. William Wood manages a one hundred and twenty acre farm in Coloma, Michigan, with little male assistance.”