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Evanston and the Fight for the Vote

Bursting on the Scene

In 1877, Harbert expanded her work into journalism. Harbert created a column in the Chicago Inter-Ocean entitled the “Woman’s Kingdom.” She used the column to discuss social issues important to her, including women’s rights and class rights issues. Like Willard, Harbert believed that women’s suffrage and temperance were intricately linked. In her opinion, many societal issues could be tied back to drinking problems; if women—the “moral” sex—could vote, many of those societal ills could be alleviated. Her support of the temperance movement eventually became a problem at the Chicago Inter Ocean. Harbert resigned from her position in 1884 over disputes with the editorial staff about the WCTU and the Prohibition Party. But she did not stay silent for long. Harbert began publishing her own newspaper called the New Era, and though it only lasted for a few years, the paper spread her conviction that temperance and suffrage were intimately tied.

The November 1885 edition of The New Era was dedicated to honoring the birthday of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Tributes for Stanton came from all over the world, including two from Evanston: one from Frances Willard and another from William Harbert, Elizabeth Harbert’s husband.

*NOTE: In a number of secondary sources, the Pro and Con Club is cited as the predecessor to the Illinois Woman's Suffrage Association (later the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association). However, the IWSA was founded in 1869, years before Harbert had even arrived in Evanston. Therefore, the Pro and Con Club could not have been a “predecessor” to the IWSA. However, it might be a predecessor to the Evanston Political Equality League, which was founded in 1904 as the local branch of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Association.