Votes for Women

Celebrating New York's Suffrage Centennial

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Table of contents

List of Contributors

A Special Message from Governor Andrew M.Cuomo
Message from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Message from Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul
Message from Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Commissioner of Education Mary Ellen Elia

Section 1. Agitate! Agitate!, 1776–1890

In Writing and In Speech

Petitioning the New York State Government

Ernestine L. Rose

Reform Breeds Reform

What Was It Like for a Woman in the Early Nineteenth Century?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Seneca Falls, 1848

Rochester, 1848

Essay—“All Men and Women Are Created Equal”: The Legacy of Seneca Falls
Judith Wellman

Defining citizenship

Lucretia Mott and Martha Coffin Wright

Ladies as Merchants?

1850: First National Women’s Rights Convention, Worcester, Massachusetts

Amelia Bloomer and The Lily

Dress Reform

Susan B. Anthony

Lifelong Partners: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

Addressing the New York State Legislature, 1854

Matilda Joslyn Gage

Sojourner Truth

1860 Convention, New York City

After the Civil War

The American Equal Rights Association

The Fourteenth Amendment

The 1867 New York State Constitutional Convention

The Fifteenth Amendment

Essay—Breaking the Law for Freedom: The Campaign of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience for the Vote
Sally Roesch Wagner

The Suffrage Movement Splits: NWSA and AWSA

The 1872 Election and Sixteen Rochester Women

Essay—“Bound Together by the Ties of Humanity”: Sarah Jane Smith Thompson Garnet
Susan Goodier

Pre-Suffrage Women Who Ran for President

History of Woman Suffrage
The Woman’s Bible

Essay—A “Monstrous Absurdity”: The 1886 Suffrage Protest of the Statue of Liberty
Lauren C. Santangelo
Section 2. Winning the Vote, 1890–1920

Creation of the National American Women Suffrage Association

The New York State Woman Suffrage Association

Clubwomen Lead the Charge, 1890–1910

Lifting as We Climb

Essay—“Give Her of the Fruit of Her Hands”: Women’s Suffrage Activity on the Buffalo-Niagara Frontier
Shannon M. Risk

Elizabeth and Anne Miller: A Mother-Daughter Suffrage Team

Harriet May Mills

Women, Suffrage, and Capital Punishment: The Roxy Druse Case

Woman’s Christian Temperance Union: Ally or Enemy to Suffrage?

The New York Suffrage Campaign of 1894

Essay—“Just Cause to Feel Proud”: Chautauqua County’s Leading Role in Grassroots Suffrage Activism
Traci Langworthy

The New Woman: Changing Women, Changing Leaders, and Changing Strategies

Madam C. J. Walker

Harriot Stanton Blatch

Women’s Political Union

Carrie Chapman Catt

Courting Working Women and Immigrants: Lillian Wald, Henry Street Settlement

Shirtwaist Workers: the Uprising of 20,000 and the Death of 146

Frances Perkins

Suffrage Goes Public

Albany’s Artist and Suffragist

Alice Paul and the Federal Amendment

Women Opposed to Suffrage

Gearing Up for the New York State Referendum: the Politics of Suffrage
Essay—“These Model Families”: Romance, Marriage, and Family in the New York Woman Suffrage Movement
Jessica Derleth

1915 Vote: The Empire State Campaign Committee Versus the Women’s Political Union

1917 vote

Essay—Recognizing Rights: Men in the Woman Suffrage Campaign
Karen Pastorello

Fight for the Amendment

The “Winning Plan”

The United States Goes to War

Voting on the Amendment

League of Women Voters

Section 3. The Continuing Fight for Equal Rights, 1920–present

Equal Rights Amendment

Essay—“An Infusion of Hope”: New York Women in the Post-Suffrage Era
Robert Chiles

The Birth Control Movement

The Modern First Lady: Eleanor Roosevelt

Early Pioneers in New York State Government

Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray Create an NAACP For Women

Publishing the Stories Women Want to Read

“Fighting Shirley Chisholm—Unbought and Unbossed”

Battling Bella Abzug

The Year of the Woman

Creative Women’s Collective

Preserving Memories and Carrying Forward the Message


Chronicles the history of the women’s rights and suffrage movements in New York State and examines the important role the state played in the national suffrage movement.


The work for women's suffrage started more than seventy years before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 when Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and one hundred supporters signed the Declaration of Sentiments asserting that "all men and women are created equal. " This convention served as a catalyst for debates and action on both the national and state levels, and on November 6, 1917, New York State passed the referendum for women's suffrage. Its passing in New York signaled that the national passage of suffrage would soon follow. On August 18, 1920, "Votes for Women" was constitutionally granted.

Votes for Women, an exhibition catalog, celebrates the pivotal role the state played in the struggle for equal rights in the nineteenth century, the campaign for New York State suffrage, and the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. It highlights the nationally significant role of state leaders in regards to women's rights and the feminist movement through the early twenty-first century and includes focused essays from historians on the various aspects of the suffrage and equal rights movements around New York, providing greater detail about local stories with statewide significance.

The exhibition of the same name, on display at the New York State Museum beginning November 2017, features artifacts from the New York State Museum, Library, and Archives, as well as historical institutions and private collections across the state.

Jennifer A. Lemak is Chief Curator of History at the New York State Museum. She is the author of Southern Life, Northern City: The History of Albany's Rapp Road Community and (with Robert Weible and Aaron Noble) An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War, both also published by SUNY Press. Ashley Hopkins-Benton is a Senior Historian and Curator at the New York State Museum and the author of Breathing Life into Stone: The Sculpture of Henry DiSpirito.


"…Votes for Women: Celebrating New York's Suffrage Centennial provides an introduction to more than 200 years of women's history in one elegantly produced oversize paperback. Jennifer Lemak and Ashley Hopkins-Benton … should be given much credit for not only bringing the State Museum's women's history collections to light, but also for organizing significant loans for the exhibition from forty-five private and public collections from around the country. " — Hudson River Valley Review

"The catalog's greatest strength lies in the images it contains on a wide array of topics, from portraits and photos of suffrage leaders to memorabilia and important texts and documents. Such images would be useful in teaching, providing students with a sense of the organization required and the pageantry associated with the movement. " — H-Net Reviews (H-FedHist)

"The richly illustrated companion book co-edited by Lemak and Hopkins-Benton contains their master narrative along with a series of monographic essays authored by consultant scholars … the volume will be extremely useful to those teaching and studying women's history in high schools and colleges. " — Antiques And The Arts Weekly

"There is something intimate, inspiring, and strengthening about seeing words created by and names in the handwriting of women who fought the earlier stages of the struggle for equality and shared humanity that is so crucial today. I'm grateful for this exhibit and catalog that are just the kind of reminder we need to keep going. " — Gloria Steinem

"The New York State Museum has put on an extraordinary exhibit to commemorate the women's suffrage movement and the Nineteenth Amendment, and I hope it inspires a new generation of women and men to raise their voices about all the injustices in their lives. " — Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator for New York State

"Congratulations to Jennifer Lemak and Ashley Hopkins-Benton for their wonderful book, Votes for Women. The book, and the exhibition upon which it is based, are great gifts from the authors to all New Yorkers who seek to learn more about the varied and vital role women have played in history. The stories and images included in the book bring the valiant women who came before us vividly to life and challenge us to continue their fight for full equality for women. " — Pam Elam, President of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Statue Fund