Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911 presents the scrapbooks of Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller which document their work in the woman’s suffrage movement. Included are materials documenting their work with the Geneva Political Equity Club and on the movement to bring the vote to women. The seven scrapbooks included in the collection include articles, pins, ribbons and other memorabilia the Millers collected.
These online exhibits provide context and additional information about this collection.
These historical era(s) are best represented in the collection although they may not be all-encompassing.
- Emergence of Modern America, 1890-1930
Related Collections and Exhibits
- Votes for Women
- Votes For Women Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920
- American Women: A Gateway to Library of Congress Resources for the Study of Women's History and Culture in the United States
- Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party
- Words and Deeds In American History
Recommended additional sources of information.
Specific guidance for searching this collection
For help with general search strategies, see Finding Items in American Memory.
Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter Anne Fitzhugh Miller founded the Geneva Political Equality Club in 1897. The Millers were wealthy New York residents, descendants of the noted abolitionist Gerrit Smith, Elizabeth Smith Miller’s father. The Millers assembled seven large scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, broadsides, letters, program announcements, and other memorabilia documenting the Geneva Political Equality Club and the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA). These scrapbooks, which make up the Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911, also contain ephemera relating to state, national, and international efforts to achieve woman suffrage. Although the collection primarily documents the work of upper and middle class leadership of the association and the women’s club movement of the Progressive Era in American history, some sections in the scrapbooks relate to the efforts of working class women. Opposition to woman suffrage in the United States grew more vocal during this period. The scrapbooks include articles and reports reflecting the views of prominent opponents along with letters and articles confronting their assertions.
News clippings in The Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks focus on a brief period at the turn –of –the century when the struggle for woman suffrage was at a crucial point. By 1915, women in Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Australia, and New Zealand had won full suffrage, and several other nations granted women the right to vote in local elections. In the United States, women had achieved the vote in several Western states but had not been able to obtain full suffrage in populous Eastern states. In some states, women had managed to obtain the right to vote in school board elections and on local economic issues. Many of the news clippings in the scrapbooks relate the problems of obtaining full suffrage in New York, where some of the larger cities of the state permitted women limited suffrage.
The letters, articles, and memorabilia in the collection provide insight into the dedication and persistence of members of the movement in their goal to achieve the vote. This collection, along with other related collections on the suffrage movement in American Memory, adds new dimensions to the understanding of the movement.
The Women’s Club Movement
After the Civil War and up to World War II, the Women’s Club Movement was an important part of the social and political landscape in the United States. At that time, few women were able to go to college; clubs, with annual study plans, offered an opportunity for ongoing education. Clubs also offered an outlet for women’s interests in improving their communities through social and legal reform. Some clubs had both male and female members, although women were the driving forces behind club activities.
The Geneva Political Equality Club, led for many years by Elizabeth Smith Miller and Anne Fitzhugh Miller, was an example of such a club:
The Geneva Political Equality Club is, as its name implies, not a social but a political organization and welcomes members from all ranks, trades and professions. Its list of active members includes the names of mechanics, physicians, lawyers, clergymen, bankers and literary men; while among the women enrolled there are practicing physicians, trained nurses, teachers and clerks connected with various business houses. Membership is acquired by signing the constitution and the payment of the yearly fee of 50 cents. The club has introduced to the people of Geneva many eminent speakers (over fifty in less than five years) including some from foreign parts. … The last meeting of each year, called the Piazza Party is held at the home of the President, where, on the broad verandas of the spacious mansion, the sight of lawn and garden and grove and the sparkling waves of the blue Seneca Lake delights the eye, music charms the ear, and the crowning pleasure of the day is always a talk from some interesting speaker.
From “A Notable Club”
Read the newspaper articles about the formation of the Geneva Political Equality Club in Scrapbook 1897-1904 (pages 18-20). Based on the articles and the excerpt above, answer the following questions:
- What was the purpose of the Geneva Political Equality Club?
- What were the requirements for membership in the Geneva Political Equality Club? What can you deduce about the members of the club from the article?
- What was the primary focus of the speeches given at the first meeting? Based on the reasons for creating the club and the focus of the first meeting, make a list of topics that might have been covered at meetings of the club in its first year. Search the Scrapbook to see if your predictions were correct.
During the years covered in the scrapbooks, the Geneva Political Equality Club heard speeches on an array of topics. Read the report of Mrs. Maud Gillespie’s presentation to the Geneva Political Equality Club on the topic “Our Working Women.”
- Why were women encouraged to work outside the home?
- According to Mrs. Gillespie, what accounted for the shifting attitudes toward women in the work force?
- How did she describe the working conditions for women in the shirt waist factories of New England? Compare these conditions with those in Scotland described by A. Mason Brown in a letter to the editor of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, January 21, 1909. How did Mrs. Gillespie and Mr. Brown link conditions for working women with the issue of women’s suffrage?which is it, woman or women’s suffrage? I think woman suffrage, as used above, sounds very awkward
- What responsibility did Mrs. Gillespie say that women who did not work had toward those who did? Do you think this principle has any applicability today? Explain your answer.
- Find and read an account of another speech given at the Geneva Political Equality Club. Write a brief summary of the main ideas conveyed in the speech and explain how those ideas might still be important in today’s world.
A newspaper clipping described the Geneva Political Equality Club’s annual “Piazza Party” at Lochland in May 1903. Mrs. Florence Perkins Gilman was the featured speaker at what the newspaper called “A Politico-Social Event”:
Strategies for Achieving Change
Suffragists used a wide array of approaches to gain rights for women. They wrote letters to public officials. They held protest marches. They circulated petitions. They testified before public bodies. They worked to change the hearts and minds of other Americans, both male and female, by giving speeches, circulating handbills, and appearing at state fairs. They worked at the national, state, and local levels to achieve change.
Documents in the collection provide evidence that many people critiqued the strategies of the suffragists and provided advice about the tactics they should use. In 1907, Anne Fitzhugh Miller gave a speech at the New York State Woman Suffrage Association meeting justifying the emphasis placed on legislative work.
- What paradox did Miller point out with respect to asking the legislature to address women’s issues? At what other points in U.S. history have similar paradoxes occurred?
- Why did Miller think working with the legislature was worthwhile despite the failure to pass legislation? Do you think her argument is convincing? Why or why not?
Admiral F. E. Chadwick wrote to his cousin Anne Fitzhugh Miller and aunt Elizabeth Smith Miller encouraging them to work to win the right of women to vote in municipal elections in New York rather than attempting to secure full franchise, saying “Let the other lie fallow awhile and insist upon that which is so clear a right that it cannot be denied if you demand it…”
- Why did Admiral Chadwick argue that seeking the vote at the local level was the best course to follow?
- What evidence did he use from the English suffrage movement to support his position?
- What logic was there in seeking a limited right to vote over full suffrage?
The women’s movement in New York worked on both fronts—to secure municipal suffrage and to continue to push for full voting rights. On Election Day, November 3, 1908, the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women passed out suffrage literature to men entering polling places calling for a reform in election laws. The Equality League also held mock elections in which women voted. Organizers of the Election Day event included Carrie Chapman Catt and Harriot Stanton Blatch, the daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The Harlem Equal Rights League participated in mock elections and called upon women to vote.
“Come and vote at your own polls. Let’s break the law that is unjust. Mrs. Susan B. Anthony broke the law when she tried to vote, and the women have been blessed ever since.”
- What was the purpose of holding mock elections?
- Why did the Harlem Equal Rights League appeal to women to break the law? Do you think that breaking the law in such circumstances is justified? Why or why not?
- In 1873, Elizabeth Smith Miller’s father sent Susan B. Anthony $100 to pay her fine for attempting to vote. In 1903, his granddaughter, Anne Fitzhugh Miller, read a letter Gerrit Smith wrote to Susan B. Anthony in 1873. Read the letter. Why did Gerrit Smith call Anthony’s case a “wrongful use of the constitution”? Do you agree with his reasoning?
Browse the collection, looking for evidence of a range of strategies used to achieve women’s suffrage. Create a poster that highlights these strategies.
Prominent Americans and Woman Suffrage
Prominent Americans lined up on both sides of the suffrage issue. Suffragists used the words of respected individuals—some historic figures—to promote their cause, as evidenced in the program for the annual convention of the New York Woman Suffrage Association held in 1910. Look through the program and identify the people who are quoted in the program. Make a chart that shows each person’s name, any background information you have or can locate about him or her, and the quotation presented in the program. Which quotation would you hypothesize was most powerful to readers at that time? Explain your answer.
Of course, many of the leaders of the campaign for women’s suffrage became well-known in their roles as advocates for women’s rights—Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to name a few. Choose one of the leaders and search the collection for documents by or about that person. Imagine that you are preparing the program for a women’s suffrage convention in 1910. Select three quotes from the leader you have researched that you think would be especially good quotations to include in the program. Explain why each quote is inspiring or meaningful to you.
A number of prominent political leaders joined with anti-suffrage women’s organizations. Elihu Root, a delegate to the New York State Constitutional Convention of 1894 and later to serve in the cabinets of President McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, addressed remarks to the Convention in opposition to woman suffrage, arguing that the extension of suffrage would be a detriment to women. The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage reprinted the speech some 14 years later. Read Root’s speech in opposition to proposals placed before the convention to grant woman suffrage.
…Mr. President, I have said that I thought suffrage would be a loss for women. I think so because suffrage implies not merely the casting of the ballot, the gentle and peaceful fall of the snow-flake, but suffrage, if it means anything, means entering upon the field of political life, and politics is modified war. In politics there is a struggle, strife, contention, bitterness, heart-burning, excitement, agitation, everything which is adverse to the true character of woman. Woman rules to-day by the sweet and noble influences of her character. Put woman into the arena of conflict and she abandons these great weapons which control the world, and she takes into her hands, feeble and nerveless for strife, weapons with which she is unfamiliar and which she is unable to wield. Woman in strife becomes hard, harsh, unlovable, repulsive; as far removed from the gentle creature to whom we all owe allegiance and to whom we confess submission, as the heaven is removed from the earth.
Julia Ward Howe responded to the republication of Elihu Root’s anti-suffrage speech in a letter to the editor published in the New York Times (March 20, 1909) in which she quoted social reformer Jane Addams at length.
- What basic argument did Root present in his address to the New York Convention?
- Why did this argument appeal to the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage?
- What arguments did Julia Ward Howe use to counter Root’s statements in opposition to woman suffrage?
The Remonstrance, a quarterly publication of the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women, reprinted a letter by Theodore Roosevelt (November 10, 1908) to Lyman Abbott. Abbott read the letter as part of a speech in opposition to Woman Suffrage.
THE WHITE HOUSE.
WASHINGTON, November 10, 1908.
My dear Dr. Abbott, -Personally I believe in woman's suffrage, but I am not an enthusiastic advocate of it, because I do not regard it as a very important matter. I am unable to see that there has been any special improvement in the position of women in those states in the West that have adopted woman's suffrage, as compared with those states adjoining them that have not adopted it. I do not think that giving the women suffrage will produce any marked improvement in the condition of women. I do not believe that it will produce any of the evils feared, and I am very certain that when women as a whole take any special interest in the matter they will have suffrage if they desire it.
But at present I think most of them are lukewarm; I find some actively for it, and some actively against it. I am, for the reasons above given, rather what you would regard as lukewarm or tepid in my support of it because, while I believe in it, I do not regard it as of very much importance. I believe that man and woman should stand on an equality of right, but I do not believe that equality of right means identity of functions; and I am more and more convinced that the great field, the indispensable field, for the usefulness of woman is as the mother of the family.
It is her work in the household, in the home, her work in bearing and rearing the children, which is more important than any man's work, and it is the work which should be normally the woman's special work, just as normally the man's work should be that of the breadwinner, the supporter of the home, and, if necessary, the soldier who will fight for the home. There are exceptions as regards both man and woman; but the full and perfect life, the life of highest happiness and of highest usefulness to the state, is the life of the man and woman who are husband and wife, who live in the partnership of love and duty, the one earning enough to keep the home, the other managing the home and the children.
From “The Remonstrance"
- Why did President Roosevelt consider himself lukewarm on the suffrage issue?
- In what ways did the letter appeal to the proponents of the anti-suffrage movement?
- What were the benefits and costs of a politician’s taking a firm stand on the woman’s suffrage issue?
- How would you evaluate Roosevelt’s position from the Abbott letter?
- What might account for a change in position by 1912, when Roosevelt ran for the presidency as a “Bull Moose” candidate?
Suffrage in the United Kingdom
A number of scrapbook entries focus on the suffrage struggle in the United Kingdom. In parts of Britain, unmarried women had been granted the right to vote in local elections in the 1860s; by the end of the 19th century, married women could vote in some elections but were denied the franchise in national elections. Leaders of the suffrage movement in the United Kingdom disagreed over strategy. One faction under Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, adopted a more militant policy of disrupting public meetings and acts of civil disobedience. Read the biographic sketch of Emmeline Goulden Pankhurst printed in the Woman’s Journal.
- How did Emmeline Pankhurst first become involved in the British woman suffrage movement?
- What convinced her and her associates in the movement to abandon meetings and petitions and adopt a more aggressive policy?
- Why was she called the “mother of the Gracchi”?
On a speaking tour in the United States and Canada in 1909, Pankhurst argued that militant measures were necessary in order to get publicity for the movement because the British press ignored women’s gentle appeals for the vote. In a Buffalo lecture, she traced the history of the woman suffrage movement in England. Alice Stone Blackwell, daughter of Lucy Stone, the American suffrage pioneer, introduced Pankhurst before a speech in Boston. Blackwell told the audience that the Women’s Social and Political Union’s campaign in Britain was justified and that the press had misrepresented the steps that Pankhurst had taken to revitalize the movement.
One of the news clippings in the scrapbook, “Suffragettes in Battle,” reports on a street confrontation outside the House of Commons on March 30, 1909.
A miniature battle, such as has been seen seldom in the remarkable history of the women’s movement, occurred outside the House of Commons yesterday afternoon. The militant suffragettes succeeded in getting as far as the St. Stephen’s entrance of the House and demanded admission, which, of course, was refused.
Upon this the woman [sic.] literally flung themselves upon the line of defense returning to the attack again and again when repulsed by the police. One of the most daring of the attacking party was its “standard bearer,” who badeheaded [sic.], for her hat lay in the muddy road, fought with such impetuosity as impelled a burst of cheering from the thousands of lookerson [sic.].
- What is the tone of the news report?
- Does the account reflect a bias? Explain.
Women who attempted to demonstrate in the public square or challenged political leaders by shouting questions at public meetings were arrested and imprisoned. Jailed women often resorted to hunger strikes to call attention to their cause, prompting their jailers to begin force-feeding. Alice Paul, reported in the American press as the inventor of the hunger strike, was arrested for disturbing Prime Minister Asquith’s speech at the London Guildhall and sentenced to a month of hard labor at Holloway jail. Paul had become active in the suffrage movement as a young American studying economicsin London. Read Alice Paul’s account of her hunger strike and force-feeding during her incarceration.
- Why was Alice Paul arrested?
- Why did women jailed for suffrage demonstrations consider themselves political prisoners?
- Why did Paul go into such detail in describing her force-feeding?
- How do you think the public would react to Paul’s description of food being forced through her nostrils?
British poet and novelist George Meredith did not support the approach taken by Emmeline Pankhurst and the Women’s Social and Political Union. Meredith supported the “more gentle” efforts of Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, “who preserve the rule of good manner and understand how the cause is to be won, while combative suffragists play the enemy’s game.” Why might someone think that the more militant approach was “playing the enemy’s game”? Do you agree?
Chronological Thinking: Creating a Timeline of Women’s Rights
Understanding chronology—when events happened and in what order—is critical to the study of history. Timelines are useful in understanding chronology because they graphically show the order in which events occurred, allowing the reader to see causal connections among events. In addition, because timelines are drawn to scale—a particular distance on the timeline represents a certain number of years—a timeline quickly shows how close in time events occurred. Of course, the person who constructs the timeline makes decisions about which events to include. Those decisions affect what the reader takes from the timeline.
Use the article by Charlotte Perkins Gilman published in Woman’s Home Companion (May, 1907) to begin constructing a timeline chronicling the progress of women from 1848 to the beginning of the 20th century. Include all the dated events from the Gilman article that you can identify. On another sheet of paper, list some events that Gilman mentions without giving dates. For example, she discusses women’s gaining the right to own property but does not say when this occurred. Conduct research to find dates for as many of these events as you can. Then add them to your timeline. Use your timeline to answer the following questions:
- How did women’s legal status change over the period represented in your timeline?
- Did the women’s movement progress at a constant rate?
- Which events in American society influenced the progress of the women’s movement?
- What do you think accounts for the successes the woman’s movement made during the period shown on your timeline?
Historical Comprehension: Identifying an Author’s Purpose
Examine the article “Why Women Should Protest” by Alice Stone Blackwell.
- Which grievances does Blackwell list in her article?
- What statistical evidence does she present to reinforce her perspective?
- What was her purpose in writing the article?
Compare Blackwell’s article with the article written by an anonymous “Jane.” How are the two authors’ purposes similar? How are they different? Which article do you think is most effective in conveying the author’s view? Why do you think “Jane” did not use her full name? Does this influence your reading of the article?
Historical Comprehension: Using Photographs as Sources
Photographs provide a visual record of historic events. Like written records, photographs are products of human effort and reflect the photographers’ purpose. Examine the newspaper photograph below, showing the release of English suffragettes from Holloway Jail after their imprisonment.
- What does the photograph show? Where and when was the photograph taken? Divide the photograph into quadrants and note in as much detail as possible objects, people, and actions in each quadrant.
- Where was the photographer when the picture was taken? How does the photographer’s location affect the way in which the photo is perceived?
- What does the caption add to your understanding of the image? What does the caption reveal about the purpose of the editors who chose this photograph for publication in their paper?
- How do you respond to the picture? Does it evoke any feelings? What inferences do you draw from examining the photograph? Does the photograph add to your understanding of the events it depicts? What questions does the photo raise?
Find another photograph in the collection and use the questions above to analyze it. How does using a set of questions like this help you in using photographs as primary sources?
Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Explaining Causes of the Suffrage Movement
Observations by foreign visitors often provide interesting insights into a culture. Anne Cobden-Sanderson, a British suffragist, visited the United States on a speaking tour in 1907. In January 1908, the magazine The Independent published an article giving her “American Impressions.” Read the article and answer the following questions:
- What does Cobden-Sanderson say about the three classes of American women? What does she say caused each group’s behavior with respect to voting rights?
- How, according to Cobden-Sanderson, would going to college affect young women?
- Whom did the author refer to as “the enemies of democracy”? What does she see as the cause of their opposition to suffrage?
- How would you describe Cobden-Sanderson’s overall view of the United States? Do you think her “outsider’s” perspective provides insights other documents in the collection do not offer? Explain your answer.
Historical Analysis and Interpretation: Considering Multiple Perspectives on Women’s Suffrage
Search the collection for documents supporting and opposing an important issue in the women’s suffrage movement and explain the differing points of view expressed in the tracts. Analyze the motives and interests expressed in the documents. What may account for the different positions on the suffrage movement?
At the turn of the 20th century, handbills were a popular way of conveying ideas. Examine the handbill below, which was circulated by the Woman Suffrage Party.
- To whom would these handbills appeal?
- Was this an effective way to appeal for supporters?
Anti-suffragists also distributed handbills putting forth their ideas. One article about a suffrage march mentions that the opposition distributed handbills along the parade route. Imagine that you were an anti-suffragist. Create a handbill to refute the claims made in the “Votes for Women!” handbill shown above.
Historical Research: Learning about the “Cult of Domesticity”
The so-called “Cult of Domesticity” was a view of women’s roles that emerged before the Civil War. Research the Cult of Domesticity, identifying the genesis of this philosophy and its major tenets. Read the “Report of the Woman's Rights Convention,” held at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848 and the Declaration of Sentiments issued at the close of the convention.
- Why do you think the Cult of Domesticity emerged in the early 19th century? What were the philosophy’s main points?
- How do you think the ideas about womanhood in the popularly accepted Cult of Domesticity influenced the early women’s rights movement?
- Does the Declaration of Sentiments conflict with the popular perceptions of advocates of the Cult of Domesticity?
Historical Research: Investigating Suffrage in Other Nations
Peruse the article by Bertha Damaris Knobe, in which she summarizes the progress of woman suffrage throughout the world on the eve of an International Woman Suffrage Alliance meeting in Amsterdam.
- According to Knobe, what were the accomplishments of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance?
- How does she respond to the charges by the anti-suffrage movement that the suffragists were losing ground?
The article and map were published in 1908. Conduct research so you can create an updated map showing the state of suffrage worldwide by 1920. How many countries had granted full suffrage by 1920? Where had most of the change occurred?
Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision Making: Examining Costs and Benefits of Different Strategies for Achieving the Vote
The documents in The Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks collection demonstrate the many strategies available to and used by the advocates of women’s suffrage. Choosing which strategy to use at a particular time required careful analysis of the situation. Read the letter to the editor of the Lyons Republican by Cornell Professor Nathaniel Schmidt.
- How does Professor Schmidt use the experience of nations that had granted full political suffrage to support his argument in defense of equal suffrage?
- How does Schmidt evaluate alternative programs to grant the vote to women based on property ownership or literacy?
- What course of action does he recommend?
Write an essay evaluating the costs and benefits of different strategies employed by the women’s movement in the United States and Britain in the first decade of the 20th century. If you had been a leader of the women’s suffrage movement in either country, what strategies for achieving change would you have used?
Arts & Humanities
Cartoons have long been used as a means of awakening public interest in ideas and issues. Using humor, cartoonists raise questions and make points in ways that may appeal to people who would not read or be moved by an essay. Cartoonists use a variety of tools and techniques to amuse, provoke, and inform: symbolism, exaggeration, labeling, analogy, and irony. Learn more about these tools and techniques by consulting the Cartoon Analysis Guide.
The Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911 include a number of political cartoons from both the United States and Great Britain, among them:
- “Woman’s Sphere”
- “I wonder if it’s really becoming?”
- “British suffrage cartoon”
- “How the Scheme Might Fail"
Select two cartoons from the collection and use the Cartoon Analysis Guide to examine the cartoons. What is each cartoon’s message? Which tools and techniques do the cartoonists’ use to convey their points? How effective do you think the cartoons are in making their points?
Broadsides are another form of political graphic. A broadside is a single sheet of paper, printed on one side only and designed “to inform the public about current news events, publicize official proclamations and government decisions, announce and record public meetings and entertainment events, advocate political and social causes, advertise products and services, and celebrate popular literary and musical efforts” (for more background on broadsides, see “Introduction to Printed Ephemera Collection”). Broadsides often incorporate cartoons or illustrations to attract attention and graphically illustrate the message. Several examples can be found in the Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911:
- “Votes for Women Broadside. Women’s Political Union"
- “Votes for Women Broadside with graphic of men rocking cradle”
- “Votes for Women Broadside: St. George and the Dragon”
- “Women’s Political Union Broadside: Trumpeter Awakening New York”
Examine several of these broadsides, paying particular attention to the illustrations and how they support the intended message.
- In these broadsides, how do graphic images dramatize the message?
- What techniques did the graphic artists use to call attention to information included in the broadsides?
- How effective do you think broadsides were in shaping public support for a movement such as suffrage?
Select a contemporary news article or editorial on an important local or state issue and create a broadside with an illustration to call attention to this issue. Exhibit the news/editorial and the broadside side-by-side. Which of the two is most likely to attract attention? Which has the greater impact on the reader?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines satire as “a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.” Can you think of current television programs, movies, books, or magazines that use satire to attack or ridicule human vice or folly?
In some cases news of the anti-suffrage movement was printed in the pro-suffrage press. One such article ridiculed Mrs. W. W. Crannell of Albany, New York, who was sent by the New York association opposed to woman suffrage to South Dakota to speak against an amendment to a bill in the state legislature to grant woman suffrage.
If a woman can always do her best work at home, why does the Anti-Suffrage Association send Mrs. Crannell to conduct a political campaign hundreds of miles away from Albany? What will become of Mrs. Crannell’s husband and children while she is thus engaged? The very newest kind of “new woman” is a lady who goes from one end of the country to another, making public speeches to prove that a woman’s place is at home.
- How does the report use satire to discredit the anti-suffrage movement? Does the report use “irony, derision, or wit”?
- How effective is the use of satire in the article? Would a more conventional style have been as effective? Why or why not?
Poems can also be satirical. Read “The Anti-Suffragist” by William Lloyd Garrison, the noted abolitionist and proponent of woman suffrage, written for the New England Woman Suffrage Alliance.
- In what ways did Garrison make use of satire in his poem? Who or what was he satirizing? What irony did he highlight?
- Is this satiric poem effective? Explain your answer.
- Why was the poem reprinted and circulated by the woman suffrage movement years after it was originally written?
Designing a Suffrage Stamp
Postal services around the globe, including the U.S. Postal Service, issue commemorative stamps that honor people or events in history. In both 1970 and 1995, the U.S. Postal Service issued stamps marking the anniversary of women’s gaining the vote. Organizations also create “stamps” that can be used to decorate envelopes and carry a message to recipients of the mail. Today these stamps are sometimes called “Cinderella stamps.” Such a stamp was created by the suffrage movement and saved in the Miller notebooks.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, “Stamp designing is an unusual art form requiring exacting skill in portraying a subject within very small dimensions.” Study a number of the recent issues from the U.S. Postal Service, available in the Stamp Release Archive. Analyze the design, using such questions as the following:
- How is color used on the stamps?
- Where is text placed? Which fonts are used?
- What do the graphics show? How much detail do the graphics have? Are they static? If not, how is motion conveyed?
- Where are the graphics placed? How are they proportioned with respect to the overall size of the stamp?
Use what you have learned by examining these archived stamps to create a stamp, four-stamp block, or sheet of 20 stamps commemorating the women’s suffrage movement. Use what you have learned by exploring the Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911 to decide what or whom you will show on the stamps.
Writing an Introductory Speech
Through the years that she served as one of the leaders of the Geneva Political Equality Club, Anne Fitzhugh Miller introduced many speakers. Providing a good introduction for a speaker is a special skill. An introduction is a short speech, but it can be important to the speaker’s success. A boring introduction or one that does not match the tone of the speech to follow can detract from the audience’s enjoyment. An introduction should have an opening that grabs the audience’s attention, a body that tells the audience something about the speaker and the topic, and a closing that welcomes the speaker to the stage.
Read several of the following introductions prepared by Anne Fitzhugh Miller; you may want to try reading them aloud, as if you were delivering them as speeches:
- “Anne Fitzhugh Miller draft introduction of Alice Stone Blackwell, Geneva Political Equality Club speaker”
- “Anne Fitzhugh Miller draft introduction of Thomas Osborne, Geneva Political Equality Club speaker”
- “Anne Fitzhugh Miller’s Introduction to Nathaniel Schmidt’s address on Woman’s Sphere"
- “Anne Fitzhugh Miller Introducing Maud Nathan, president of the National Consumers’ League"
Do Miss Miller’s introductions have openings that grab the audience’s attention? Do they have bodies that tell something about the speaker and his or her topic? Do they have endings that welcome the speaker?
Use what you have learned about Anne Fitzhugh Miller to write an introduction for a speech she will give at a national suffrage meeting. Her topic will be “Why I Am a Suffragist!” (This was the title of an article she wrote, which you may want to read in preparing your introduction.)
Central to the suffragists’ work was persuasion, particularly persuading policy-makers and the public to support the vote for women. In January 1900, for example, the New York State Woman Suffrage Association sent a letter to local presidents asking them to mobilize their members to write to their state senators. The state organization gave directives on what to write and urged local leaders to write “in a respectful manner and in a way that will arouse no personal antagonism.”
The Millers’ collection of articles and reports of the anti-suffrage organizations show that they were also very aware of the efforts to persuade being made by the opposing side. One such news clipping reprinted a 1909 letter from the New York State Anti-Suffrage Association to Governor Hughes, urging the appointment of women to state boards, commissions, and committees dealing with charity, health, education, and reform agendas.
We believe this to be the safest method of utilizing at the present time the capabilities of women and their interests in the public welfare, without exposing our civic institutions to the risk attendant upon granting to women unrestricted suffrage.
Assuming the role of a member of the Geneva Political Equality League, write a persuasive letter to Governor Hughes countering the stance of the Anti-Suffrage Association. Use techniques of persuasive writing or speaking, such as considering the needs and concerns of the audience; referring to respected sources, such as the Constitution or the words of a respected leader; stating your position clearly and using evidence to support it; acknowledging the positions of the opposition and rebutting their arguments; and appealing to shared values and principles.
Examine the paper “The Demand for Enfranchisement” written by Elizabeth Burrell Curtis (ca. 1894) at the behest of Elizabeth Smith Miller.
- How effective are the arguments used in the paper?
- What examples did the author offer as evidence to support her assertions?
- Did the author use the techniques of persuasive writing mentioned above? If you were editing the paper, what improvements would you suggest to make it more persuasive?
Look at the list of opposing viewpoints developed by the Equal Franchise Society. How could this list be useful in developing persuasive arguments on the question of woman suffrage? Pick an issue in which you are interested and create a similar list of arguments on both sides of the issue. How might the list you have created be useful to you?
A biographical sketch is a brief account of a person’s life; not as detailed or lengthy as a biography, a biographical sketch may highlight a few aspects of a person’s life that are especially telling. Read the biographical sketch of the first American woman to receive a medical degree, Elizabeth Blackwell.
- Who wrote this biographical sketch? Is identifying the author important in reading biographies or biographical sketches? Explain your answer.
- What factors influenced this prominent American woman? What obstacles did she have to overcome?
- What does this biographical sketch reveal about the inequities in American society in the latter part of the 19th century?
A reminiscence is narration of memories of past events, written by the person who experienced the events. Read the fragment from the “Reminiscences of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.”
- How were the lives of Stanton and Blackwell similar? How were they different? How does reading both sources broaden your understanding of American society?
Which form do you prefer reading—the biographical sketch or the reminiscence? Why?
Search the collection and other sources for additional information about the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Write a brief biographical sketch of this founder of the women’s suffrage movement, highlighting aspects of her life that you think will help readers understand her.