Books that illuminate how women won the vote: Suffrage Wagon Book Shelf

Posted by on September 5, 2017 in 60-Second History Lesson | 0 comments


Books from Suffrage Wagon Book Shelf on Vimeo.

Women Will Vote: Winning Suffrage in New York State, available in September 2017, celebrates the 2017 centenary of women’s right to full suffrage in New York State. Authors Susan Goodier and Karen Pastorello highlight the activism of rural, urban, African American, Jewish, immigrant, and European American women, as well as male suffragists, both upstate and downstate, that led to the positive outcome of the 1917 referendum. The authors argue that the popular nature of the women’s suffrage movement in New York State and the resounding success of the 1917 referendum at the polls relaunched suffrage as a national issue. If women had failed to gain the vote in New York, Goodier and Pastorello claim, there is good reason to believe that the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment would have been delayed.

Women Will Vote makes clear how actions of New York’s patchwork of suffrage advocates heralded a gigantic political, social, and legal shift in the United States. Readers will discover that although these groups did not always collaborate, by working in their own ways toward the goal of enfranchising women they essentially formed a coalition. Together, they created a diverse social and political movement that did not rely solely on the motivating force of white elites and a leadership based in New York City. Goodier and Pastorello convincingly argue that the agitation and organization that led to New York women’s victory in 1917 changed the course of American history. Some sources speak of the “suffrage movement” as monolithic. Goodier and Pastorello address this issue and focus on the many diverse individuals and organizations, including those in the coalition having quite different agendas. 

The Perfect 36: Tennessee Delivers Woman Suffrage by Carol Lynn Yellin and Janann Sherman is an example of when folks on the ground demonstrate their love for the subject matter of how women won the vote. The drama associated with the final ratification vote in 1920 in Nashville is highlighted with fabulous graphics and photos, many never seen before. Paula Casey’s work in bringing this work to light is described as “valiant perseverance” that is well deserved. When people refer to the “War of the Roses,” this book lays out the significance of this struggle that came to a tie and how it was finally broken to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

The Gazette, a special edition devoted to how women won the vote, is now online from the National Women’s History Project. In this edition there’s an overview by state of highlighted activists across the nation. This is a difficult goal to achieve as tens of thousands of individuals were involved in the organizing over decades. Suffrage Wagon News Channel and SuffrageCentennials.com are highlighted as resources.

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