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Deeds not Words: Women and the Vote: Votes for Women: A History

Digital Exhibit on Women's Suffrage & Voting

The Awakening

Illustration shows a torch-bearing female labeled "Votes for Women", symbolizing the awakening of the nation's women to the desire for suffrage, striding across the western states, where women already had the right to vote, toward the east where women are reaching out to her. Printed below the cartoon is a poem by Alice Duer Miller..

Henry Mayer's 1915 illustration was the centerfold of a special suffrage issue of Puck magazine (v.77, no. 1981 (1915 February 20)), centerfold (pp. 14-15), guest-edited by New York state suffrage groups.

Rule Britannia!: Suffrage across the British Empire

Enfranchisement Around the World

The Leaders: Memorable Figures from the Fight

All the information on these major suffrage leaders is taken from "Women Who Fought for the Vote," History.com, August 14, 2020.


Jane Addams (1860-1935)

Jane Addams in profile, facing right.

  • American settlement activist, reformer, social worker, sociologist, public administrator and author
  • Important leader in the history of social work and women's suffrage in the United States and advocated for world peace
  • Became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931
  • Recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States
  • Honored in the 'Famous Americans Series' postal Issues of 1940

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

Susan B. Anthony, full-length portrait, seated, facing left.

  • American social reformer and women's rights activist
  • Formed the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) with others in May 1869
  • Formed the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) with others in November 1869 after a split in the American Equal Rights Association. It joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton holding her daughter Harriot, half-length portrait, facing right.

  • Participated in organizing the first women’s-rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York
  • A committed activist fighting for the principle of universal suffrage and against the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed Black men the right to vote but denied it to women
  • Advocated for the reform of marriage and divorce laws, better education opportunities for girls, and less confining clothing so that women could be more active
  • Published the first volume of a more egalitarian Women’s Bible in 1895

Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954)

Mary Church Terrell, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing front.

  • Co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women Clubs (NACWC) and served as the first president until 1901
  • Co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP)

Lucy Stone (1818-1893)

Lucy Stone, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right.

  • Best known for refusing to change her last name when she married the abolitionist Henry Blackwell in 1855
  • Supported the 15th Amendment
  • Helped found the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA)
  • With her husband Blackwell, began to publish the weekly feminist newspaper The Woman’s Journal in 1871

Alice Paul (1885-1977)

Alice Paul, full-length portrait, standing, facing left, raising glass with right hand.

  • Started the Congressional Union, which soon became the National Woman’s Party (1915)
  • Proposed an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution in 1920. It read: “shall have equal rights throughout the United States.” It has never been ratified.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1893)

Sojourner Truth, three-quarter length portrait, standing, wearing spectacles, shawl, and peaked cap, right hand resting on cane.

  • African-American activist, inspiring preacher. Born to a slave and fought through her life against slavery and gender-inequality
  • The first black woman to sue a white man
  • Gave the famous “Ain’t I a woman?” speech at the Women’s Convention held in Akron, Ohio, 1851
  • Visited the White House where she was received by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)

Ida B. Wells, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly right.

  • Best known for her work as a crusading journalist and anti-lunching activist.
  • Wrote for the Free Speech, a city’s Black newspaper.

Francis E.W. Harper (1825-1911)

Frances E.W. Harper, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing front.

  • Abolitionist, suffragist, poet, teacher, public speaker, and writer.
  • One of the first African American women to be published in the United States
  • Became superintendent of the Colored Section of the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Women's Christian Temperance Union in 1883
  • Helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president in 1894