The word “suffrage” means “voting as a right rather than a privilege,” and has been in the English language since the Middle Ages. Suffrages originally were prayers. Then the meaning was extended to requests for assistance, then the assistance provided by a supporting vote, and finally the vote itself. Therefore, in 1787 the Constitution used suffrage to mean “an inalienable right to vote.”
And the right to vote was what advocates of women’s equality sought. They used suffrage in the phrase “female suffrage” or simply by itself, with the understanding that suffrage referred to voting rights for half of the adult population that had been excluded. The goal of the suffrage movement was accomplished in 1920 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged ... on account of sex.” With that, the word suffrage was also retired. Since then, campaigns to extend the vote have simply called for “voting rights.”
The numbers in [bold brackets] identify the images in the photograph collection at the bottom of the page.
Note: Each group of entries cannot exceed 2,000 words, so the timeline dates are structured accordingly. Images are arranged from left to right. To view or print a single photograph collection, click on its link below. To view or print any or all of these photograph collections, click here.
Row 1: Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1648-1849 ● Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1850 -1868 ● Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1869-1873 ● Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1874-1887
Row 2: Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1888-1902 ● Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1903-1912 ● Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1913-1918 ● Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1919-1936
Row 3: Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1937-1981 ● Timeline of the Women's Suffrage Movement: 1984-Current ● Logos related to the Suffrage Movement (See additional logos on sidebar)
Row 4 (top): Suffrage campaign button, 1915 ● Meeting of Women's Social & Political Union leaders, c.1906-07 ● Publication cover, 1917 ● U.S. Postage stamp honoring Elizabeth Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt and Lucretia Mott
Row 4 (bottom): Helen Hamilton Gardener, Carrie Chapman Catt and Maud Wood Park (from left to right) on the balcony of Suffrage House, 1881 ● Headquarters of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage in New York City, c.1911 ● Part of the first contingent of African American nurses arriving in England, 8-21-1944 ● "The Awakening" cover of Puck Magazine, 2-20-1915
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