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.