Browse Exhibits (3 total)

The Suffragists

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Evanston women played a significant role in achieving nation-wide women's suffrage. One of the ways they did this was through their involvement in the Illinois suffrage movement.

Along with other women across the state, Evanston women long advocated for the right to vote for the women of Illinois. They finally succeeded in 1913. The state legislature approved a limited ballot for women that included voting for electors in presidential elections. This expansion of the rights of Illinios women made a significant impact on the national movement. Soon after, in 1920, full women's suffrage became a reality across the nation.

Click on the Evanstonian's names to the right to learn more about the role they played in the fight for women's suffrage at the state and national level.

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An interactive timeline of Evanston women and the 19th Amendment. 

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Voting Before the 19th

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Before the 19th amendment, many American women had opportunities to vote in a handful of western states. In Illinois, an important early expansion of women’s voting rights occurred in 1891 when the state legislature passed a school suffrage bill, allowing women to vote in school board elections. Both the “home protection” argument and partial ballot strategies worked to persuade legislators that since women were already involved in schools as both teachers and administrators, and overseeing their children's education as mothers, school suffrage made sense for women. 

Many American women already had some opportunities to vote in certain elections, thanks to the efforts of early suffragists. In some cases, these voting victories were more symbolic than actually practical. Opinions were divided--some people thought that accepting partial voting rights was settling, and would slow down progress towards full suffrage. However, others saw partial voting rights as steps in the direction of full suffrage and hoped that opportunities to vote would encourage women to become more involved in the election process, as well as prove that women could be responsible voters.

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