Online Resource – Democracy Limited: Chicago Women and the Vote
A century after ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the Chicago History Museum invites visitors to explore women’s activism in Chicago to secure the right to vote—and beyond.
Discover the ways women organized to challenge the status quo and how these different paths led to a mass movement for suffrage. Find out what the vote did and did not accomplish, and for whom. Connect themes of the past with the present, which remind us that while injustice and inequality persist, so do activist women.
Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: A Biographical Dictionary,edited by Rima Lunin Schultz and Adele Hast, published by Indiana University Press, 2001.
Women Building Chicago is the result of a 10 year research, writing, editing and publication project undertaken by CWHC (then Chicago Area Women’s History Conference) from 1990 – 2000. A pathbreaking, award-winning, reference work, this volume contains extensive biographical essays on 423 Chicago women from fields as diverse as labor organizing, social reform, education, science, law, medicine, politics, philanthropy, religion, literature, the arts and many other areas. It is also a key resource for researching the women’s suffrage movement in Chicago and Illinois.
The story of Illinois and the women’s suffrage movement is told in this video presentation for the Peoria Riverfront Museum by Lori Osborne, editor of this website and director of the Evanston Women History Project.
Ahead of Their Time: A Brief History of Woman Suffrage in Illinois by Mark Sorensen gives a brief overview of the story.
The History of Woman Suffrage by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, and Ida Husted Harper – Chapter on Illinois – can be found here. It has lots of great information, though it does not tell the whole story, missing much of the work of the temperance movement and also of African-American women suffragists in the state. It does include this description of the final vote in 1919 and why there was some confusion about the Illinois vote –
“… the mistake was made in copying the introductory resolution and not in the amendment itself. This opinion was accepted in the Secretary of State’s office at Washington [D.C.]. So Illinois, the first State east of the Mississippi River to grant suffrage to its women, was the first to ratify the Federal Suffrage Amendment.”
Chicago Political Equality League – entry in The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Search Suffrage for other entries in the encyclopedia. Also look for the entry on the Alpha Suffrage Club.
An online exhibit from the Illinois State Archives highlights the achievement of partial voting for women in the state in 1891. That year, Illinois women were able to vote in school board elections.
Alton, Illinois suffrage history can be found here.
The National Park Service highlights Illinois and suffrage in this online exhibit.
Historical Background – National
This exhibit from the National Park Service provides an overview of the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. There are many sources of information for the overall story of women’s suffrage.
The Women and Social Movements research project has created an online biographical dictionary of women suffrage activists including many from Illinois. The project includes members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, members of the National Woman’s Party, and Black Women Suffragists.
The 1913 Suffrage March in Washington D.C. is highlighted in this online exhibit from the Library of Congress. Illinois women, including Ida B. Wells and Grace Wilbur Trout were present at the march. Wells objected to the call for African-American suffragists to march at the end of the state delegations and successfully integrated the march by joining her fellow Illinois suffragists.
Suffragists or Suffragettes – Here’s a link to a great article that explains why in the U.S. the suffrage activists were called Suffragists. From the Massachusetts Women’s Suffrage Celebration Coalition.
African American Women and the Nineteenth Amendment – article on the National Park Service website with extensive bibliography.
Crusade for the Vote is an online resource created by the National Women’s History Museum that covers the history of the women’s rights movement from the early Republic through the passage of the 19th amendment.
The National Votes for Women Trail can be found here. It is a creation of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites and state coordinators in all 50 states mapping the women’s suffrage movement.