U.S. Women’s Suffrage Movement: Suggested Reading

Compiler’s Note

This bibliography is very much non-exhaustive and in process. If you’ve got a title or two to recommend, either use the contact form at the end or leave a comment. The 19th Amendment, giving U.S. women the right to vote, was ratified in 1920. Many books have been published or reprinted with the 2020 centennial in mind. At the same time, let’s not forget that most women of color in the South and elsewhere didn’t get real access to the ballot until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and that the right to vote is currently under attack in too many states.

The National Women’s History Museum’s website is a stupendous resource for women’s history and the biographies of women from various eras, including those active in the suffrage movement.

This list includes a couple of YA (Young Adult) books, but nothing for younger readers. My plan is to compile a companion list for them, so feel free to use the contact form to recommend titles for this too — and if you’d like to take this on as a project, let me know.

And finally — don’t miss the marvelous “Bad Romance – Women’s Suffrage” video at the end. It’s inspiring, and it’s contagious.

– Susanna J. Sturgis

General histories of the suffrage movement and “the Woman Question”

Bernadette Cahill, Alice Paul, the National Woman’s Party and the Vote: The First Civil Rights Struggle of the 20th Century (McFarland, 2015)

Carrie Chapman Catt, Nettie Rogers Shuler, et al., The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement (Madison & Adams Press, 2018)

Doris Stevens, edited by Carol O’Hare, Jailed for Freedom: American Women Win the Vote (1920; New Sage Press, 1995). [SJS note: This and the following entry are the same book, but the different subtitles suggest that the two editors had somewhat different takes on it. Stevens herself participated in the events she wrote about.]

Doris Stevens, edited by Marjorie J. Spruill, Jailed for Freedom: The Story of the Militant American Suffragist Movement (1920; Lakeside Press, 2008)

Eleanor Flexner & Ellen Fitzpatrick, Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the United States (Harvard University Press, 1996). First published in 1959; paperback edition with intro by Ellen Fitzpartrick, 1996.

Ellen Carol DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage: The Emergence of an Independent Women’s Movement in America, 1848–1969 (Cornell University Press, 1978; reissued with preface 1999)

Elaine Weiss, The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (Random House, 2018; paperback 2019).

Lisa Tetrault, The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848–1898 (University of North Carolina Press, 2014)

Mari Jo Buhle & Paul Buhle, eds., The Concise History of Woman Suffrage (University of Illinois Press, 2005). Selections from the 6-volume History compiled by Gage, Stanton, Anthony, and Harper.

Martha S. Jones, All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African-American Public Culture, 1830-1900 (University of North Carolina Press, 2007)

Sally Gregory McMillen, Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women’s Rights Movement (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Sally Roesch Wagner, ed., The Women’s Suffrage Movement (Penguin, 2019). An anthology of writings, speeches, and other documents.

Winifred Conkling, Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot (Algonquin Young Readers, 2018). Published as YA (young adult).

Writings by and about suffragists

Katherine H. Adams and Michael L. Keene, After the Vote Was Won: The Later Achievements of Fifteen Suffragists (McFarland, 2010)

Susan Ware, Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019)

Susan Ware, editor, American Women’s Suffrage: Voices from the Long Struggle for the Vote, 1776–1965 (Library of America, forthcoming: July 2020)

Alice Paul (1885–1977)

Tina Cassidy, Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait? Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote (37 Ink, 2019)

Deborah Kops, Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights (Calkins Creek, 2017). Published as YA (Young Adult)

Mary Walton, A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot (St. Martin’s, 2010)

J[ill]. D[iane]. Zahniser and Amelia Fry, Alice Paul: Claiming Power (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Carrie (Lane) Chapman Catt (1859–1947)

Jacqueline Van Voris, Carrie Chapman Catt: A Public Life (Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1987).

Robert Booth Fowler, Carrie Chapman Catt: Feminist Politician (Northeastern University Press, 1986).

Primary sources about Carrie Chapman Catt at Iowa State University’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, A Woman’s Bible (1895; Dover Publications, 2003)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences, 1815–1897. Available as a free ebook from Project Gutenberg

Lori D. Ginzberg, Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life (Hill & Wang, 2009)

Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Susan B. Anthony

Geoffrey C. Ward, Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (Knopf, 1999)

Penny Colman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World (Square Fish, 2016). Marketed as YA.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931)

Linda McMurry,To Keep the Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells (Oxford University Press, 1998).

Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793–1880)

Carol Faulkner, Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011)

Lucy Stone (1818–1893)

SJS note: The Wikipedia entry on Lucy Stone is extensive and includes many resources, online and print, for further reading about her.

Alice Stone Blackwell, Lucy Stone: Pioneer of Woman’s Rights (1930; University of Virginia Press, 2001)

Sally Gregory McMillen, Lucy Stone: An Unapologetic Life (Oxford University Press, 2015)

Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826–1898)

Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church & State (1893; available as a free ebook from Gutenberg; and online at the Sacred Texts website)

Angelica Shirley Carpenter, Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist (South Dakota Historical Society Press, 2018)

Leila R. Brammer, Excluded from Suffrage History: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Nineteenth-Century American Feminist (Praeger, 2000)

Sarah Grimké (1792–1873) & Angelina Grimké Weld (1805–1879)

Gerda Lerner, The Grimké Sisters from South Carolina, rev. ed. (1967; University of North Carolina Press, 2004)

Mark Perry, Lift Up Thy Voice: The Sarah and Angelina Grimké Family’s Journey from Slaveholders to Civil Rights Leaders (Penguin, 2002)

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797–1883)

Carleton Mabee with Susan Mabee Newhouse, Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend (New York University Press, 1993). Ebook edition can be borrowed for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Erlene Stetson and Linda David, Glorying in Tribulation: The Lifework of Sojourner Truth (Michigan State University Press, 1994)

Nell Irvin Painter, Sojourner Truth: A Life, a Symbol (W. W. Norton, 1996). Ebook edition can be borrowed for 14 days from the Internet Archive.

Sojourner Truth, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave (1850; Penguin Classics, 1998). Also available online from the University of Virginia.

Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906)

Kathleen Barry, Susan B. Anthony: A Biography of a Singular Feminist (1st Books Library, 2000)

Lynn Sherr, Failure Is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words (Crown, 1995)

 

MV Women’s March 2019

The weather was blustery, the forecast daunting, but about a hundred Vineyarders turned out for last Saturday’s march, delighting organizers who were expecting far fewer to show up. And unlike most Vineyard demonstrations, it really was a march: after rallying at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven, most of us walked down the Beach Road, over the drawbridge, and down New York Avenue to Washington Park, near Oak Bluffs harbor.

Five Corners is the go-to place for island demonstrations, with good reason: it’s centrally located, there’s plenty of room to stand (crowd estimates for last summer’s “Families Belong Together” demo ran as high as 350), and even in January the traffic in all directions is pretty much continuous. Five Corners, however, is both noisy and windy, which means that demos there almost never include speeches or music.

Organizer Margaret Emerson addresses the crowd. Photo by Daniel Waters. Used by permission.

Here too, Saturday’s Women’s March broke with tradition by featuring two speeches and the reading of a poem. Organizer and Women’s Committee member Margaret Emerson, aided by a blue bullhorn, kicked off the event, saying:

We are here at a great time in our nation’s history. In spite of the terrible daily news coming out of Washington about the current administration, we live in a time of renewed awareness of what our democracy means and how we can be involved to keep our government on the right track and our democracy strong.

The 2017 Women’s March brought about changes in our federal, state, and local government. Women became mobilized to the point that more women were elected to the US Legislature than ever before; Women-lead political groups were formed in our state and our island, and political activity has energized us to run for office, lobby, work on campaigns and make a difference in the lives of many. Ask any spouse, partner, child, or friend and they will tell you the change is here and it is here to stay and to be passed on to the next generation of activists.

She went on to list the “Why we march?” priorities of the national Women’s March: civil rights and liberties, environmental justice, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, reproductive rights and justice, disability rights, economic justice and workers’ rights, and an end to violence against women.

Carla Cooper of Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard. Photo by Daniel Waters.

Next up was Carla Cooper, founder of Indivisible Martha’s Vineyard, who spoke of how the 2016 election and the 2017 Women’s March changed her life:

I went to the first Women’s March in Boston in 2017 because I didn’t know what else to do with my fear and my anxiety. I didn’t know where to put it. It was the first time I ever participated in anything remotely political. And it was a life-altering experience for me. I was surrounded by thousands of beautiful people who turned my desperation into hope, and inspired me into action. And while two years ago, the Women’s March for me was all about Trump, today it’s not about him. It’s about us, and what we have been able to accomplish, in spite of him.

Out of the smoking crater of the 2016 election arose a monumental upswelling of grassroots activism all across the country. We emerged from the dark fog of the aftermath of the election, and we found each other. We’ve grown from a community of reluctant resisters to a community of eager activists and leaders. During the last two years, we organized, we rallied, we protested, we campaigned, we registered voters, we knocked on doors, we wrote thousands of postcards, we laughed, and we cried – and we drank a lot of wine. We agonized over our defeats and we celebrated our victories. We watched women run for office and get elected in record numbers. 102 women were elected to the US House of Representatives! 14 women were elected to the US Senate! And 9 women will serve as Governors! And we helped create the blue wave that won back the House of Representatives!

The rally concluded with the reading of “Who Will Mend Me?,” a poem by Lorraine Parish, another Vineyarder who was called to action by the 2016 election. Despite the bullhorn, most of the words got lost in the wind and traffic noise. Fortunately palmcards with the entire poem, in which the poet speaks in the voice of the United States, were passed out to listeners. Here it is.

Women’s Committee members Cathy Walthers, Maggie Brown, and Maria Black all attended the Boston Women’s March, where they helped with the activities of the Massachusetts Coalition to End Child Marriage. (You’ll be hearing more about this issue. A new bill to end child marriage in this state was recently introduced.)

Also at the Boston march was Lorraine Parish, which is why she wasn’t at Five Corners to read her own poem.

 

Feminist Book Group Starts Feb. 1

It is not news that women’s rights, dignity, opportunities, equality, and justice have precious little support in our culture, either from the law, from our families, and even from other women. The time has come to fix that. But before we can start to change things, we need to arm ourselves with the facts. The Women’s Committee of We Stand Together / Estamos Todos Juntos is starting a reading and discussion group to learn more about and provide an opportunity to discuss women’s legal and cultural issues.

Starting on Friday, Feb. 1, the Feminist Book Group will meet on the first Friday of each month, from 5:15 to 7:00 p.m. in the program room at the West Tisbury Public Library. If you are not in the library when it closes at 5 p.m., you may enter the program room through a door off the porch on the right side of the building.

The book we’ll be discussing at the Feb. 1 meeting is Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. Good and Mad examines the transformative power of women’s anger, including both historical perspective and insightful comments on today’s events. It has been chosen one of the best books of 2018 by the Washington Post, NPR, People, Esquire, Elle, and Wired (among others).  It is available at bookstores, at Amazon.com, through IndieBound (a community of independent local bookstores), and through the CLAMS system, both in book form and as a CD.

Upcoming titles will be posted on this website, so please sign up to “follow” and you won’t miss anything.