Recognizing Women's Right to Vote in New York State

“We are ready to Work beside you/ Fight beside you and/ Die beside you – Let Us Vote Beside You/ Vote for Woman Suffrage November 6th,” 1917. Courtesy of the New York State Library.

On November 6, 1917, women won the right to vote in New York State. This occurred nearly seventy years after women organized to demand their right to vote at the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. in 1848. In the long fight for suffrage, women in New York had many motivations and tactics they used to achieve their goal. They were inspired by rights held by women in native communities, who enjoyed more economic freedom and political sway in their communities. Women organized into conventions, parades, and marches.  The women’s movement united with abolitionists and male allies, and drew attention to their cause with posters, pamphlets, buttons, signs, postcards, and songs. Many women throughout New York State sought their rights in a wide variety of ways, privately and publicly--by attempting to vote, engaging in tax protest, and by staging myriad protests over the decades.

There were many obstacles women faced in their struggle for the vote. The prevailing opinion until the early 20th century was that women belonged in the domestic sphere, not the public sphere, and opposition to suffrage came from both men and women. Disagreements on strategies within the suffrage movement impeded progress, as well as strong anti-suffrage sentiments from opposing groups of men and women. However, World War I would have a massive impact on suffrage as women held jobs at home vacated by men fighting in the war, working in munitions factories and farming land, among other occupations. They also served overseas as nurses and in military support roles. With women taking on such a large public role in the war effort, it was difficult to justify not allowing women to participate in society as full citizens.

Citation: 

Corrice, Julia, Susan Goodier and Sally Roesch Wagner. Recognizing Women’s Right to Vote in New York State. New York Heritage Digital Collections, May 14 2018. https://nyheritage.org/exhibits/recognizing-womens-right-vote-new-york-state.

Credits: 

This exhibition was curated by Julia Corrice,  Susan Goodier, and Sally Roesch Wagner of the South Central Regional Library Council, in partnership with the Empire State Library Network and New York Heritage Digital Collections, with funding from Humanities New York. Exhibition materials contributed by:

Albany Public Library
Binghamton University
Bryn Mawr College Library
Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives
Claremont Colleges Library
Clinton Historical Society
Cornell University
David O. McKay Library, BYU-Idaho
Fayetteville Free Library
Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Georgia State University Libraries
Harvard University
Jean Fagan Yellin
Ken Florey
Library of Congress
Loyola Marymount University, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library
Missouri History Museum
National Archives and Records Administration
National Archives at College Park
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
New York State Library
National Portrait Gallery
NYC Department of Records & Information Services
New York Public Library
New York State Historic Newspapers
Onondaga Community College Library
Palisades Interstate Park Commission
Robert W. Woodruff Library
Rochester Museum & Science Center
Seneca Falls Historical Society
Skaneateles Historical Society
South Central Regional Library Council
Temple University
University of California
University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
University of Michigan Libraries
University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Wells College
White Plains Public Library