Woman Suffrage

Essay

While the Philadelphia region often led the way on progressive reforms, by the twentieth century, woman suffrage was not among them. The region boasted a number of early woman suffrage advocates, and women in New Jersey had the right to vote during the early years of the republic, but by the late nineteenth century, Pennsylvania in particular lagged behind other states in granting women even limited voting rights. Twentieth-century efforts to pass referenda in support of equal suffrage in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware all failed. Throughout, divisions over strategy and among women across racial, economic, and social lines complicated the struggle. After Congress finally sent a federal amendment to the states in 1919, Pennsylvania ratified quickly, but Delaware’s vote against the amendment allowed Tennessee to become the final state needed to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment on August 18, 1920.

Earlier history had been more promising. In the years after independence, New Jersey alone granted women the right to vote, under the terms of the 1776 state constitution and confirmed by legislation passed in the 1790s. The provision, the result of partisan jockeying for voter advantage, applied only to women (and men) of sufficient property. Since few owned property in their own right, few actually voted. As a result, when the legislature rescinded that right in 1807 and limited suffrage to white males—an act of questionable legality since it overturned a constitutional provision with a legislative act—women did not fight disenfranchisement. In New Jersey and elsewhere, the gradual expansion of suffrage to all white men in the early nineteenth century was accompanied by the curtailing of voting rights for women and African Americans.

Lucretia Coffin Mott was a leading figure in Philadelphia’s abolition and early woman’s rights movements. (Library of Congress)

The early woman’s rights movement was closely tied to the abolition movement, with Quakers taking a leading role in the Philadelphia region. Formal agitation for the vote began when several men in Burlington County, New Jersey, unsuccessfully petitioned the state constitutional convention in 1844 to reinstate women’s right to vote. In 1852, Quaker women organized Pennsylvania’s first woman’s rights convention, at Horticultural Hall in West Chester, presided over by abolitionists Lucretia Mott (1793–1880) and Mary Ann White Johnson (1808–72). Mott and Sarah Pugh (1800–84) founded the interracial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and organized the fifth national woman’s rights convention, held in Philadelphia’s Sansom Street Hall in October 1854. These conventions advocated not only for woman suffrage, but for woman’s rights.

Robert Purvis, a leader in Philadelphia’s free Black community and the abolition movement, supported suffrage for women. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

Embracing Other Issues

During and following the Civil War, suffrage advocates turned their attention to emancipation and African American rights. In 1866, woman’s rights activists organized the American Equal Rights Association (AERA) to “secure Equal Rights to all American citizens, especially the right of suffrage, irrespective of race, color or sex.” Lucretia Mott served as president. Philadelphia abolitionists and woman’s rights supporters formed the affiliated Pennsylvania Equal Rights Association in January 1867. Its president, Robert Purvis (1810–98), who had been the first African American member of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and a former president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society, was the only Black male abolitionist to support the idea that Black men should not be granted the vote until all women were also enfranchised. In December 1866, suffragists in the reform-minded community of Vineland, in Cumberland County, New Jersey, organized the Vineland Equal Rights Association and sent a petition to the Republican state convention for “Impartial Suffrage, irrespective of Sex or Color.”

In 1869, the AERA splintered over support of the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted African American men, but not women, the right to vote. Those who believed that Black men should not receive the vote until women did as well formed the new National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) and Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906). Those who believed that this was the “Negro’s hour” formed the American Woman Suffrage Society (AWSA), led by Lucy Stone (1818–93) and Henry Blackwell (1825–1909) of New Jersey.

In the Philadelphia region, a number of new suffrage groups affiliated with one of these two societies. The New Jersey Woman Suffrage Society, organized in Vineland in November 1867 and led by Stone and Blackwell, which had drawn most of its early members from southern New Jersey, shifted to ally with the AWSA in 1869. More women from the northern counties became active, while the suffragists of Vineland turned to their own organization and tactics. The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association, formed at Philadelphia’s Mercantile Hall in December 1869 and led by abolitionist Mary Grew (1813–96), also aligned with the AWSA. This society, active into the twentieth century, primarily engaged in educational activities. In March 1872, Philadelphia suffragists sympathetic to the NWSA organized the competing Citizens’ Suffrage Association at 333 Walnut Street, the office of its president, Edward M. Davis (1811–87), son-in-law of Lucretia Mott. Meanwhile, suffragists in Delaware, a border state, remained unorganized, although they held their first convention in 1868.

Women in Vineland, New Jersey, brought their own ballot box to the polls beginning in November 1868, after Portia Gage was prevented from voting the previous spring. (Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society)

In March 1868, Portia K. Gage (1813–1903) of Vineland attempted to vote in the municipal elections but was prevented because she was not registered. That fall she returned with 171 other women, Black and white, and their own ballot box, and voted. The Vineland women continued the practice in 1869 and 1870. Their actions inspired women around the country to begin going to the polls to test the theory that women, as citizens, were enfranchised by the Fourteenth Amendment, suffrage being one of citizenship’s “privileges and immunities.” Carrie S. Burnham (1838–1909), a member of the Citizens’ Suffrage Association of Philadelphia, attempted to vote in October 1871. After a court ruled against her, she appealed to the state supreme court and also spoke before the state legislature. Burnham lost her appeal. In 1875, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Minor v. Happersett, ruled that voting was not a right of citizenship.

State Constitutions

After ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, suffragists also worked to change voting clauses in state constitutions, many of which were rewritten in the Reconstruction era. Women sought to have the word “male” removed from voter qualifications at the same time that states removed the word “white.” The Pennsylvania constitutional convention of 1872–73, however, changed its description of those eligible to vote from “white freeman” to “male citizens.” The new constitution did allow women to run—but not vote—for school offices. Neither New Jersey nor Delaware updated their constitutions.

In 1876, at the instigation of the Philadelphia Citizens’ Suffrage Association, NWSA determined to use the centennial celebration of American Independence, in Philadelphia, to point out the contradiction between the ideals of the Revolution and the reality of restricted suffrage. It also began lobbying for a sixteenth amendment for woman suffrage. As early as May 1875, Susan B. Anthony rented rooms at 1431 Chestnut Street to serve as headquarters. That fall, the leaders of NWSA began planning a Declaration of Rights of the Women of the United States, which they intended to read at Independence Hall on July 4. Denied permission to present their declaration at the event, they obtained tickets to it, and, after a reading of the Declaration of Independence, distributed it to the audience while Susan B. Anthony led a delegation onto the stage and handed it to the presiding officer. The AWSA, which had declined to sign the declaration, held its own meeting on July 3 at Horticultural Hall to recognize the centennial of woman suffrage in New Jersey and protest its loss in 1807.

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) became an important ally of the suffrage movement in the late nineteenth century. In Montgomery County, the WCTU shared space with the local suffrage society in Norristown. The New Jersey WCTU began cooperating with the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association by 1884. In Delaware, the state WCTU organized a suffrage department in 1888, and Martha S. Cranston (1845–1926) became its superintendent in 1889. The issues of temperance and prohibition complicated arguments for woman suffrage, particularly in Philadelphia, into the final years of the suffrage campaign.

Municipal reformer Lucretia Longshore Blankenburg became president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association in 1892. (Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections)

Meanwhile, in 1887, Congress defeated a woman suffrage amendment. This blow led suffragists at the national level to once again reassess strategy. For this and other reasons, the rival NWSA and AWSA reorganized in 1890 as the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), with Anthony as its first president. State societies coordinated with this new national society. In 1892, Lucretia Longshore Blankenburg (1845–1937) became president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Society and encouraged the formation of local societies. Jane Campbell (1845–1928) founded the Woman Suffrage Society of Philadelphia that year and served as its president for nearly twenty years. The New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association also reorganized in 1890. Slow to organize, Delaware’s first suffrage society, the Wilmington Equal Suffrage Club, formed in November 1895, under the leadership of Philadelphia’s Rachel Foster Avery (1858–1919), a member of the Citizens’ Suffrage Association and leader of NWSA’s effort to organize Pennsylvania. A state suffrage society formed in 1896, with temperance advocate Martha Cranston as president.

Piecemeal Progress

In the 1890s, some suffragists focused on securing more limited voting rights. New Jersey suffragists, working with the WCTU and the Grange, lobbied for an amendment to restore (for rural women) and expand (for others) women’s right to vote for school commissioners; voters defeated the amendment in a special election in 1897. Suffrage activists were particularly interested in Delaware because it had a state constitutional convention scheduled for 1897. They were unsuccessful in getting “male” struck as a voting qualification, but Delaware did pass a law in 1898 that allowed tax-paying women to vote for school trustees.

Philadelphia experienced a proliferation of local suffrage societies representing different constituencies and strategies in the early twentieth century. Among them were the Pennsylvania College Equal Suffrage League (1908), an affiliate of the National College Equal Suffrage League, led by M. Carey Thomas (1857–1935), president of Bryn Mawr College; the Pennsylvania Limited Suffrage League (1909), which, as its name implied, advocated for a limited suffrage, excluding illiterates and criminals; and the Equal Franchise Society of Philadelphia (1909), which drew its members from Philadelphia’s society women. In 1909 the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association also formed a state Woman Suffrage Party to work on the state legislature in Harrisburg, following the plan put forth by NAWSA’s Carrie Chapman Catt (1859–1947). In New Jersey, however, the defeat of 1897 had stymied state efforts for a time; by 1908 no branches of the state suffrage society were active in the southern counties. Delaware suffragists experienced similar difficulties after their 1897 defeat.

Alice Paul, in a photo taken between 1912 and 1920, sews stars a suffrage flag. (Library of Congress)

The new energy that infused the woman suffrage movement in the region, and nationally, stemmed from a new generation of leaders. Inspired by suffragists in England, where she had spent a few years after college, Alice Paul (1885–1977), a young Quaker woman from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania, advocated the use of rallies, parades, and similar tactics to draw public attention to the cause. She also pushed NAWSA to focus on the goal of a federal amendment rather than its state-by-state campaign. By 1913, Paul had formed the Congressional Union (CU), which originally affiliated with NAWSA but soon broke with it over strategy.

Small girl wearing white dress and "Votes for Women" sash stands next to replica of the Liberty Bell. She and the bell are the same height.
A girl wearing a sash saying “Votes for Women” stands on a truck bed next the Justice Bell, a copy of the Liberty Bell made for the suffrage campaign. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

Alice Paul

The new CU appealed to many Philadelphia suffragists. Leadership of the state suffrage society shifted to the western part of the state, where its emphasis on smaller meetings and less public spectacle was more effective. But Philadelphia became Alice Paul’s testing ground for new tactics that she later took to a national stage. In May 1914, Paul planned May Day celebrations in every state. In Philadelphia, many of the city’s suffrage societies, including the Men’s League, held the state’s first suffrage demonstration in Rittenhouse Square before marching on Market Street to Washington Square. The CU and state society cooperated, sometimes uneasily, on a successful effort to secure a state referendum, which culminated in a statewide campaign in 1915. For the most part, the CU agreed not to interfere with the state society during that campaign, the highlight of which was a statewide tour of the Justice Bell, a replica of the Liberty Bell with its clapper silenced until women won the right to vote. Financed by Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger (1853–1943) of Chester County, the Justice Bell ended its tour in Philadelphia in October with a parade before a crowd of one hundred thousand. The referendum did not pass, however, with Philadelphia and the counties in southeastern Pennsylvania—except for Chester County—voting against suffrage, in part due to Philadelphia’s machine politics and the power of the liquor interests in the region, which associated woman suffrage with the temperance cause.

New Jersey, too, voted on a suffrage referendum in 1915. The shifting political power in the state away from the Democratic Party gave suffragists cause for hope. NAWSA sent professional organizers to the state, including to Camden, where Jenney G. Kerlin (b. 1878) led the Camden Equal Suffrage League. The anti-suffrage forces were also well organized, however, and the political parties refused to take a stand. President Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), former governor of New Jersey, endorsed the referendum, indicating that he thought the women of New Jersey should have the vote, but as a private citizen (thus avoiding a stand on a national amendment). But voters defeated the referendum by a wide margin; it lost in every county except Ocean Country, where it won by a very narrow margin.

Meanwhile, Paul’s supporters focused on a national amendment. In Philadelphia, she found strong allies in Caroline Katzenstein (1876–1968), active in the state suffrage society and the Equal Franchise League, and Dora Kelly Lewis (1862–1928), as well as Mary A. Burnham (1852–1928), a major donor to the National Woman’s Party, which grew out of the CU. While NAWSA suspended much of its work during World War I, the National Woman’s Party pressed on, lobbying representatives in Washington and holding vigils outside the White House to highlight President Wilson’s hypocrisy in fighting for democracy overseas while women were disenfranchised at home. Lewis was among those arrested during the protests in 1917, jailed, and force fed to end a hunger strike.

This broadside, published by the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage sometime between 1915 and 1917, used 1910 census data to show that woman suffrage would not increase the proportion of the Black vote. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

The long struggle with Congress finally ended when it passed a nineteenth amendment for woman suffrage on June 4, 1919. Suffragists in all states then turned their attention to achieving ratification in the required minimum of thirty-six states. Pennsylvania quickly ratified, on June 24. The struggle was more protracted in New Jersey and Delaware. In New Jersey, the legislature put off consideration until 1920, and suffragists worked to elect pro-suffrage representatives in the fall of 1919. After a closely contested vote, New Jersey’s legislature ratified the amendment on February 9, 1920. By the end of March, when thirty-five states had ratified, suffragists focused on a handful of states that had not yet rejected the amendment, including Delaware. As in many southern states, anti-suffrage activists exploited fears that the amendment would bring more Black voters to the polls, and the Delaware campaign ended in defeat on June 2. Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify on August 18, 1920. Delaware finally ratified the amendment on March 6, 1923.

The Justice Bell rang for the first time on September 25, 1920, on Independence Square in Philadelphia. Over one million women in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware voted in a national election for the first time on November 2, 1920. It had taken well over one hundred years for women to win that right and to push the nation forward toward living up to the ideals put forth at its founding.

Tamara Gaskell is Public Historian in Residence at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities and co-editor of The Public Historian. Previously, she was editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography and Pennsylvania Legacies, while director of publications at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and an assistant editor of the Selected Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. (Author information current at time of publication.)

Copyright 2017, Rutgers University

Gallery

Lucretia Mott

Library of Congress

Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793–1880) was a leading figure in Philadelphia’s abolition and early woman’s rights movements. Her Quaker faith shaped her commitment to equality. She was active in the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and in 1848 she helped organize the first woman’s rights convention, held in Seneca Falls, New York. In 1852, she called to order Pennsylvania’s first woman’s rights convention, in West Chester. After the Civil War, she became the first president of the American Equal Rights Association, which favored universal suffrage—for African Americans and women. She continued to work for woman suffrage throughout her life and was revered by later generations of activists. Late in life she became a member of both the Citizens' Suffrage Association of Philadelphia and the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Robert Purvis

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Robert Purvis (1810–98), a leader in Philadelphia’s free black community, was among the few African American abolitionists to rank woman suffrage as an equal priority to African American suffrage. He was a member of the Citizens’ Suffrage Association of Philadelphia and of the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Susan B. Anthony and Rachel Foster Avery, 1890

Library of Congress

Rachel Foster Avery (1858–1919) was a member of the Citizens’ Suffrage Association of Philadelphia and joined the National Woman Suffrage Association by the early 1880s. She quickly became corresponding secretary and a close collaborator of Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906). In Philadelphia, she tried to bridge the competing factions of the woman suffrage movement. Her home, Mill-Rae, became a meeting place for suffragists. Anthony considered Avery to be like a niece to her, and she named Avery an executor of her will.

Portia Gage

Courtesy of the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society

Portia Kellogg Gage (1813–1903) helped organize the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association in 1867, shortly after moving to the area from Illinois, where she had been active in the abolition and woman’s rights movements. In 1868 she attempted to vote in a municipal election but was refused because she was not registered. The following fall she returned with 171 other women and their own ballot box. Her actions inspired women around the country to similarly test woman’s right to vote. She is estimated to be middle-aged in this undated photograph.

Vineland Women's Ballot Box c. 1868

Courtesy of Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society

Women in Vineland, New Jersey, brought their own ballot box to the polls beginning in November 1868, after Portia Gage was prevented from voting the previous spring. Following that election, the president of the Historical Society of Vineland asked that the box made from blueberry crates be donated to the archives, along with the list of voters.

Caroline Burnham Kilgore, c. 1883

University of Pennsylvania Archives

Carrie S. Burnham (1838–1909) attempted to vote in Philadelphia in 1871, and after she was denied, she took her case to court and eventually argued her case before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled that suffrage was not a right of citizenship. Burnham, who had worked as a teacher and a physician, attempted to enroll in law school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1871 and was denied because of her sex. After several more attempts, she was finally admitted in 1881 and graduated in 1883 as the school’s first female graduate.

Lucretia Longshore Blankenburg

Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections

Municipal reformer Lucretia Mott Longshore Blankenburg (1845–1937), daughter of Dr. Hannah E. Longshore and wife of textile manufacturer and Philadelphia mayor (1912–15) Rudolph Blankenburg, became president of the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association in 1892, replacing Mary Grew, who had been president since the organization's founding in 1869. She served in that capacity until 1908, when she was succeeded by Rachel Foster Avery.

M. Carey Thomas

Library of Congress

Martha Carey (or M. Carey) Thomas (1857–1935) helped found Bryn Mawr College and served as its president from 1894 until 1922, during the height of the woman suffrage campaign. Thomas helped found the College Equal Suffrage League and was its first president. She was also a member of NAWSA, and after 1920 supported an equal rights amendment.

Alice Paul Sewing Star on Suffrage Flag

Library of Congress

Alice Stokes Paul (1885–1977) was founder and chair of the Congressional Union, later the National Woman’s Party. Born in New Jersey, she attended Swarthmore College before traveling to England to study social work. There she became involved with the Women's Social and Political Union and brought their tactics back to the United States. Frustrated by the conservative approach of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, in 1913 Paul formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, which became the National Woman's Party. The NWP demonstrated and agitated for woman suffrage. Paul began her agitation in Philadelphia. In 1917, Paul was arrested for picketing outside the White House and jailed at Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia, where she led a hunger strike and was force fed. In 1923, Paul authored the “Lucretia Mott Amendment,” which became known as the Equal Rights Amendment. She is pictured in a photo taken between 1912 and 1920 sewing stars on the suffrage flag to represent states that had voted for woman suffrage.

Pennsylvania Men's League for Women's Suffrage: Votes by County, 1915

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Published by the Pennsylvania Men's League for Woman Suffrage, this map depicts the votes regarding suffrage in Pennsylvania in 1915. Support for woman suffrage in Pennsylvania was strongest in the western part of the state and along the northern tier. Chester County was the lone county in southeastern Pennsylvania to support the 1915 suffrage referendum. As this map notes, suffrage was supported by 49.16 percent of the voters outside of Philadelphia, but only 46.63 percent of the entire vote—indicating that Philadelphia’s anti-suffrage vote was very strong.

Justice Bell Tour at Unidentified Rally, 1915

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

After the Pennsylvania legislature passed a suffrage referendum in 1915, the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association organized a campaign to canvass for passage of the referendum that took them to every county in the state. Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger (1853–1943) of Chester County commissioned a replica of the Liberty Bell, dubbed the Justice Bell, that would travel on the bed of a truck to rallies throughout the state. Its clapper was silenced and the bell would not ring until women were granted the vote. The tour ended in Philadelphia in front of Independence Hall in October 1915. The bell then was stored at Valley Forge and was largely forgotten until 1995, when the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters reclaimed it as a symbol of woman’s equality.

Women's Liberty Bell Tour of 1915

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

After the Pennsylvania legislature passed a suffrage referendum in 1915, the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association organized a campaign to canvass for passage of the referendum that took them to every county in the state. Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger (1853–1943) of Chester County commissioned a replica of the Liberty Bell, dubbed the Justice Bell, that would travel on the bed of a truck to rallies throughout the state. Its clapper was silenced and the bell would not ring until women were granted the vote. The tour ended in Philadelphia in front of Independence Hall in October 1915. The bell then was stored at Valley Forge and was largely forgotten until 1995, when the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters reclaimed it as a symbol of woman’s equality. Here, an unidentified woman stands on the truck bed next to the Justice Bell and appears to address someone on the ground.

Girl Standing with Justice Bell, 1915

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

After the Pennsylvania legislature passed a suffrage referendum in 1915, the Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association organized a campaign to canvass for passage of the referendum that took them to every county in the state. Katharine Wentworth Ruschenberger (1853–1943) of Chester County commissioned a replica of the Liberty Bell, dubbed the Justice Bell, that would travel on the bed of a truck to rallies throughout the state. Its clapper was silenced and the bell would not ring until women were granted the vote. The tour ended in Philadelphia in front of Independence Hall in October 1915. The bell then was stored at Valley Forge and was largely forgotten until 1995, when the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters reclaimed it as a symbol of woman’s equality. The girl standing on the truck bed next to the Justice Bell wears a sash reading "Votes for Women."

Dora Kelly Lewis after hunger strike

Library of Congress

Dora Kelly Lewis (1862–1928), from a prominent Philadelphia family, became a fierce advocate of woman suffrage, first as a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and then of the National Woman’s Party. Lewis (center) participated in demonstrations in Washington and was arrested at least five times between 1917 and 1919. She was imprisoned in the Occoquan Workshouse in Virginia with Alice Paul, and with her led a hunger strike, which resulted in her being force fed. In 1920, Lewis campaigned for ratification in Delaware but proved unsuccessful. She is seen here wearing a fur-trimmed coat as two other women on either side of her hold her arms, seemingly to help her walk.

Caroline Katzenstein, c. 1915

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Caroline Katzenstein (1888–1965) was instrumental in publicizing suffrage activities as secretary of the Pennsylvania branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and later as executive secretary and chair of publicity for the Congressional Union of Pennsylvania as well as executive secretary of the Equal Franchise Society of Philadelphia. After suffrage was achieved, she became an insurance agent, but continued her work on women’s issues, fighting for equal pay for women and for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Alice Paul and Dora Kelly Lewis in a meeting with Pauline Floyd

Library of Congress

Dora Kelly (Mrs. Lawrence) Lewis (left) meets with Alice Paul (right, pouring tea) and Pauline Floyd sometime between 1909 and 1920. Lewis was imprisoned in the Occoquan Workshouse in Virginia with Alice Paul, and with her led a hunger strike, which resulted in her being force fed.

Will The Federal Suffrage Amendment Complicate The Race Problem?

Broadside published between 1915 and 1917 by the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

The Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, which later became the National Woman’s Party, used 1910 census data to show that woman suffrage would not increase the proportion of the black vote. Fear of expanding the African American vote led many southern states to oppose woman suffrage and also played a role in Delaware’s rejection of ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Mill-Rae, c. 1920

Image courtesy of Cranaleith Spiritual Center

Rachel Foster Avery offered her home, Mill-Rae, as a meeting place and retreat center for suffragists. Now part of the Cranaleith Spiritual Center, the late-Victorian house was designed by architect Minerva Parker Nichols, the first independent female practitioner of architecture in the United States. Mill-Rae was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

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Related Reading

Adams, Katherine H. Alice Paul and the American Suffrage Campaign. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2008.

Brown, Ira V. Mary Grew: Abolitionist and Feminist, 1813–1896. Selinsgrove, Pa.: Susquehanna University Press, 1991.

Dodyk, Delight W. “Education and Agitation: The Woman Suffrage Movement in New Jersey.” Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 1997.

Engbers, Susanna Kelly. “A Woman both ‘New’ and ‘True’: Jane Campbell as Catholic Suffragist.” American Catholic Studies 126, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 23–45.

Faulkner, Carol. Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Woman’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011.

Katzenstein, Caroline. Lifting the Curtain: The State and National Woman Suffrage Campaigns in Pennsylvania as I Saw Them. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1955.

Klinghoffer, Judith Apter and Lois Elkis. “‘The Petticoat Electors’: Women’s Suffrage in New Jersey, 1776–1807.” Journal of the Early Republic 12, no. 2 (Summer 1992): 159–93.

Krone, Henrietta Louise. “Dauntless Women: The Story of the Woman Suffrage Movement in Pennsylvania, 1910–20.” Ph.D. diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1946.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper, The History of Woman Suffrage. 4 vols. New York: Fowler & Wells, 1881–1922.

Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn. African American Women and the Struggle for the Vote, 1850–1920. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1998.

Zahniser, J. D. and Amelia R. Fry. Alice Paul: Claiming Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

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