A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women's Suffrage Movements
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements

A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements

Jacob Miller - September 19, 2017

Women’s suffrage in the United States, the legal right for women to vote, was established over the course of several decades, first by states’ rights, and then federally in 1920.

In 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, passed a resolution in favor of universal suffrage.

In 1872, Susan B. Anthony illegally voted and her arrest revitalized the Suffrage movement. In 1890, with Susan B. Anthony at the head of the organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Association was formed (NAWSA).

Carrie Chapman Catt the lead NAWSA final push, with two million members, to make universal suffrage a reality. The Nineteenth Amendment became a part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920. It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Hedwig Reicher as Colombia at the March 3, 1913, Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Inez Milholland Boissevain, wearing a white cape, seated on a white horse, at the National American Woman Suffrage Association parade. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Margaret Vale Howe, a participant in the suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. March 1930. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Mrs. Charles Lewis Tiffany, Katrina Brandes Ely, carrying a flag in suffrage parade, New York City, October 27, 1917. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Mrs. Suffern wearing a sash and carrying a sign that says Help us to win the vote, surrounded by a crowd of men and boys at a Women’s Suffrage Parade in 1914. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
National American Woman Suffrage Association parade held in Washington, D.C., March 3, 1913, photograph showing (left to right) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Mrs. Althea Taft, Mrs. Lew Bridges, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, Alberta Hill and Miss F. Ragsdale. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Suffrage hikers who took part in the suffrage hike from New York City to Washington, D.C. which joined the March 3, 1913, National American Woman SUffrage Association parade. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Suffragist Susan Walker Fitzgerald, Emma Bugbee, Maggie Murphy and Harriot Stanton Blatch at a women’s suffrage parade in New York City, July 30, 1913. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Women’s Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Women’s Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917. Time
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
This 1915 pin showed support for the movement for a woman’s right to vote. Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association promotes a 1915 referendum which would have allowed women the right to vote. The referendum did not pass, and women waited another four years before the 19th Amendment guaranteed their right to vote. Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection

Women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom succeeded through two laws passed in 1918 and 1928.

The movement started in the Victorian era. In 1872, the National Society for Women’s Suffrage was formed which later turned into the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

In 1913, Parliament passed the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act, commonly referred to as the Cat and Mouse Act. This allowed for the release of those whose hunger strikes, while imprisoned for the sometimes violent tactics of the Women’s Social and Political Union until they were fed and healthy so the striking women would not become martyrs.

The outbreak of World War I resulted in a pause of all political movements. In 1918, a coalition in Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act, granting all men, as well as women over the age of 30 who met the minimum property qualifications the right to vote. In 1928, the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed, which gave women over the age of 21 the right to vote on equal terms with men.

A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
The Women’s Social and Political union stand, probably at Caxton Hall, London, during the women’s parliament, February 1908. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Suffragettes taking part in a pageant organized by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, June 1908. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Nurses and midwives marching to the Royal Albert Hall, London, April 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Suffragettes in a procession to promote the Women’s Exhibition, in London, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Younger suffragettes promoting the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
A procession of people promoting the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Barbara Ayrton-Gould dressed as a fisher girl representing Grace Darling, promoting the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Christabel Pankhurst, co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, inside the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst (front row, third from left), at the flower stall of the Women’s exhibition, London, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
A suffragette in costume at the Green, White and Gold fair, organized by the Women’s Freedom League, 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) drum and fife band at the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
A suffragette meeting, with WSPU leaders including Emmeline Pankhurst, at Caxton Hall, June 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
The Putney and Fulham WSPU shop and office, London, 1910. Christina Broom: Museum of London

In Russia, two years after the October Bolshevik Revolution when Vladimir Lenin came to power, women’s equality was theoretically recognized and women’s suffrage was granted. Lenin wrote that “to effect [woman’s] emancipation and make her the equal of man, it is necessary to be socialized and for women to participate in common productive labor.”

Suffrage, however, really meant nothing because of the Communist Party’s monopoly of power. Independent feminist organizations and journals were shut down. Despite the prevailing Soviet ideology of gender equality and the fact that many women had jobs and earned advanced degrees, they did not participate in political roles.

Hendrick Smith, the former Russian correspondent for the New York Times, noted that the emancipation of women had led to their exploitation. He recounts “Under capitalism, women are not liberated because they have no opportunity to work. They have to stay at home, go shopping, do the cooking, keep house and take care of the children. But under socialism, women are liberated. They have the opportunity to work all day and then go home, go shopping, do the cooking, keep house and take care of the children”

A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
A stamp depicting the iconic Soviet statue that symbolized the union of a male worker and a kolkhoz woman, which represented the ideal of equality under Communism. Wikipedia
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
April 1 “is a notable day for all the women and for those who stand together with them in the struggle for their rights,” a local newspaper wrote about the march. In July, the Women’s right to vote and run for office was ratified. RT
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Banner reading ‘If a woman is a slave, there is no freedom.’ After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Provisional Government issued a declaration proclaiming ‘universal suffrage,’ excluding women. RT
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
A banner reading ‘Voting Rights for Women.’ The crowd marched over a mile to the State Duma, where the revolutionary authorities were meeting. RT
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
Building on the momentum by the women’s rally which ignited the February Revolution, tens of thousands of Russian women marched down central Petrograd on April 1, 1917, demanding voter equality. RT
A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements
“We do not need any more well-wishing promises, enough of that!” Shishkina-Iavein said in the final speech in front of the Tauride Palace. “We need an official and clear response… We shall not leave here until we get that response.” RT

 

Sources For Further Reading:

History Channel – Seneca Falls Convention

UK Parliament – Representation of the People Act 1918

History Collection – Craziest Reasons for Denying Women’s Suffrage Throughout History

History Collection – The Role of Jiu-Jitsu in Women’s Suffrage Gives a Surprising Perspective of these Activists

British Library – Women and the Russian Revolution

The Guardian – Feminism Without Socialism Will Never Cure Our Unequal Society

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