Path to the Vote

1884

The Michigan Equal Suffrage Association (MESA) launches in Flint

The MESA is the next statewide movement to form, after a ten-year gap without an organized suffrage campaign in Michigan. Mary Doe is President and Governor Begole is Vice President. After previous unsuccessful attempts to win passage of a women’s suffrage amendment to the Michigan Constitution, the new group shifts its strategy to gaining the vote in municipal elections. The State Legislature passes municipal suffrage in 1893, but the state.. READ MORE

1887

Federal suffrage amendment fails first Senate vote.

When the full U.S. Senate considers the question of whether to amend the federal Constitution to give women the vote, the proposal is decisively defeated.

1890

National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) is founded

Women Are Citizens

The NWSA and AWSA are reunited as the NAWSA under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In 1904, Michigan suffragist Anna Howard Shaw is elected President of the NAWSA, serving until 1915. Photo: Flier distributed by the National American Woman Suffrage Association advocating the vote for women,1915/1920, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan

1893

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is established

Map of World's Columbian Exposition

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is established at the Columbian Exposition. Hannah G. Solomon is asked to organize participation of Jewish women in the Chicago World’s Fair, but discovering that this would consist of pouring coffee and other hostess duties, they walk out. By the end of the fair, they had founded the NCJW. A striking example of the Council’s different priorities was their lack of support for suffrage. In.. READ MORE

1895

Elizabeth Cady Stanton publishes The Woman’s Bible

Elizabeth Cady Stanton publishes The Woman’s Bible leading the NAWSA to distance itself from the venerable founder of the suffrage movement, fearing that the radical aims she championed in the publication would damage the cause. Stanton, who had resigned as NAWSA president in 1892, was now excluded from her former place of prominence on stage at NAWSA conventions.

1896

National Association of Colored Women (NACW) is formed

National Association of Colored Women (NACW) is formed by Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Margaret Murray Washington, Fanny Jackson Coppin, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Charlotte Forten Grimké, and former slave Harriet Tubman in Washington, D.C.

1900

Women now have the right to vote in four states

Women Suffrage

By the turn of the century, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah had ratified women’s suffrage. Michigan’s women ask, “Why not Michigan?”

1903

Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) of New York organizes

Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) of New York organizes establishing a link between union membership and suffrage. Founded by Mary Dreier, Rheta Childe Dorr, Leonora O’Reilly, and others, the WTUL organized middle- and working-class women to advocate for suffrage as a means of protecting working women. This group later became a nucleus of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU).

1904

Anna Howard Shaw is elected President of the NAWSA

Shaw, from Big Rapids, Michigan, leads the national organization until 1915. In 1880, she had become the first woman in the U.S. to be fully ordained as a minister in the Methodist Church.

1910

Ann Arbor Area Equal Suffrage Association (AAESA)

is organized on October 24 by the MESA. The AAESA is active in the 1912 and 1913 referendums. The University of Michigan Woman’s Suffrage Club merges with the AAESA, and after Michigan grants women suffrage in 1919, the AAESA becomes the Ann Arbor League of Women Voters.

Works Consulted

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote. Elaine Weiss. Penguin Books, 2019. 

Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote. Susan Ware. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019. 

Sojourner Truth’s America. Margaret Washington. University of Illinois Press, 2009. 

“Declaration of Sentiments.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Report of the Woman’s Rights Convention, Held at Seneca Falls, New York, July 19 and 20, 1848. Printed by John Dick, Rochester, NY, The North Star office of Frederick Douglass, 1848. 

The History of Woman Suffrage. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Gage. Vol. I: 1835-1860. New York, Fowler & Wells, 1881.  

Lucretia Mott. Diary of Her Visit to Great Britain to Attend the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840. Edited by Frederick B. Tolles, supplement no. 23, Journal of the Friends’ Historical Society. Friends’ Historical Association and Friends’ Historical Society, 1952. 

Crusade for the Vote. Online exhibit and resource. National Women’s History Museum.

Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote. June 4, 2019 – Sept. 2020. The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 

Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence. March 29, 2019  January 5, 2020. National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. 

Liberty Awakes in Washtenaw County: When Women Won the Vote. Jan. 8 – Feb. 27, 2011. The Museum on Main Street, Ann Arbor, sponsored by the Ann Arbor Area League of Women Voters.

Women’s History Timeline, The Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame, Lansing, MI.

National Park Service. Women’s History Website, “19th Amendment,”, and “Suffrage in America: The 15th and 19th Amendments” series. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/15th-and-19th-amendments.htm

“US Voting Rights Timeline,” Northern California Citizenship Project. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/womenshistory/15th-and-19th-amendments.htm

“Who got the right to vote when? A History of Voting Rights in America” AlJezera.

Image Sources

William L. Clements Library Image Bank, University of Michigan.

Bentley Historical Library Image Bank, University of Michigan.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.