On November 6, 1917, women won the right to vote in New York State. This occurred nearly seventy years after women organized to demand their right to vote at the first women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848. In the long fight for suffrage, women in New York had many motivations and tactics they used to achieve their goal. They were inspired by rights held by women in native communities, who enjoyed more economic freedom and political sway in their communities. Women organized into conventions, parades, and marches. The women's movement united with abolitionists and male allies, and drew attention to their cause with posters, pamphlets, buttons, signs, postcards, and songs. Many women throughout New York State sought their rights in a wide variety of ways, privately and publicly--by attempting to vote, engaging in tax protest, and by staging myriad protests over the decades.
There were many obstacles women faced in their struggle for the vote. The prevailing opinion until the early 20th century was that women belonged in the domestic sphere, not the public sphere, and opposition to suffrage came from both men and women. Disagreements on strategies within the suffrage movement impeded progress, as well as strong anti-suffrage sentiments from opposing groups of men and women. However, World War I would have a massive impact on suffrage as women held jobs at home vacated by men fighting in the war, working in munitions factories and farming land, among other occupations. They also served overseas as nurses and in military support roles. With women taking on such a large public role in the war effort, it was difficult to justify not allowing women to participate in society as full citizens.
The five panel traveling exhibit includes topics relating to the Women's Suffrage Movement specifically in New York State.
Citation: Corrice, Julia, Susan Goodier and Sally Roesch Wagner. Recognizing Women’s Right to Vote in New York State. New York Heritage Digital Collections, May 14 2018.
Credits: This exhibition was curated by Julia Corrice, Susan Goodier, and Sally Roesch Wagner of the South Central Regional Library Council, in partnership with the Empire State Library Network and New York Heritage Digital Collections, with funding from Humanities New York.