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)

 

Families Belong Together

The Martha’s Vineyard Peace Council has called for a standout at Five Corners at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 30, to oppose the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their asylum-seeking parents at the southern border. All welcome — bring signs!

A national “Families Belong Together” march on Washington has been called for June 30 by MoveOn.org and many other organizations to protest the inhumane treatment of immigrants, many of whom are fleeing terrible violence in their home countries. Hundreds of local rallies have been called in communities across the country. If you’re not on the Vineyard, you can find the ones nearest you on the MoveOn.org website.

Immigration law is complex, and so is the history of enforcement. The continual and contradictory misinformation put out by the Trump administration makes it hard to grasp all the ways that what’s going on now is a radical departure from what previous administrations have done. If you Google fact check immigration policy Trump or similar keywords, you’ll find a wealth of reliable reporting and commentary, but I found this one, Salvador Rizzo’s “The Facts About Trump’s Policy of Separating Families at the Border,” from the Washington Post, particularly useful.

And did you know that if you’re on Martha’s Vineyard, you’re in the 100-mile “border zone,” within which the Border Patrol can stop anyone on the slightest suspicion and check their immigration status? How slight is “slight”? Well, a woman in Montana was stopped because she was speaking Spanish.

This border zone extends 100 miles not only from the Canadian and Mexican borders but from both the east and west coasts.

Here is the ACLU’s fact sheet on the subject.

And here is a “know your rights” chart when dealing with the Border Patrol. It was prepared by the Arizona chapter of the ACLU.

On Preventing Gun Violence

Mass. attorney general Maura Healey

Nine members of the Women’s Committee just sent a letter to the editor to both the Martha’s Vineyard Times and the Vineyard Gazette. It supports Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey’s recent op-ed in the Boston Herald insisting that “every strategy to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people needs to be on the table.”

We also call for the passage of H3610, a bill providing for an ERPO (extreme-risk protection orders) law. The bill, currently before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, would enable courts to temporarily prohibit a person from possessing or purchasing guns if law enforcement or immediate family members show that they pose a significant danger to themselves or others.

If Florida had an ERPO law, it’s likely that the arsenal of the alleged Parkland high school shooter could have been confiscated.

Here’s the text of the letter:

To the Editor:

In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 dead, at least 14 wounded, and countless bereaved, we stand with Attorney General Maura Healey when she says that this “is not a reality we can accept.”

We stand with her, too, when she adds that “every strategy to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people needs to be on the table. That includes common sense reforms like universal background checks, giving police discretion to deny licenses to domestic abusers, and allowing the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence.”

Massachusetts has been a leader in showing that thoughtfully written and effectively enforced gun laws can reduce gun deaths without impinging on the rights of responsible gun owners. At present, however, Massachusetts doesn’t have an extreme-risk protection order (ERPO) law, which would enable courts to temporarily prohibit a person from possessing or purchasing guns if law enforcement or immediate family members show that they pose a significant danger to themselves or others.

A crucial bill to rectify this — H3610, “the Decker bill” — is in the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security. Our state representative, Dylan Fernandes, is a co-sponsor of the bill. Please consider calling the co-chairs of the Joint Committee to urge that the bill be reported out of committee favorably. The co-chairs are Rep. Harold Naughton (617-722-2230) and Sen. Michael Moore (617-722-1485). You can also call House Speaker Robert DeLeo (617-722-2500) to express support for the bill.

Before the February 14 Parkland shooting, there had been frequent reports and complaints about the alleged shooter’s erratic and sometimes violent behavior. If Florida had an ERPO law (it doesn’t), his ability to buy firearms could have been curtailed and his arsenal confiscated.

Thoughts, prayers, and passing the buck have not solved the gun violence crisis and never will. It’s long past time for Congress to heed Maura Healey’s insistence that “every strategy to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of dangerous people needs to be on the table.”

For more information on these issues, including legislative updates, readers are urged to contact Everytown for Gun Safety and the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

Ann Wallace, Cathy Walthers, Kathy Laskowski, Maggie Brown, Margaret Emerson, Max King, Nan Byrne, Sarah Nevin, Sheila Lyons, and Susanna J. Sturgis

Five Corners, 1/20/2018

Quite a few members of the Women’s Committee were among the 150 or so who gathered at Five Corners this afternoon to rally with Women’s March 2018. The signs were great! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. 😦 You can find a sampling on the Martha’s Vineyard Times website  and that of the Vineyard Gazette. Meanwhile, here’s my sign.

Women’s Winter Film Series 2018

Note: The 2018 Women’s Winter Film Series introduced and re-introduced some great films to Vineyard audiences. We think it was a success! It would not have beeen possible without the support of our wonderful island libraries. Thank you all so much.

For a (growing!) list of films by and about women, many of which are available for home viewing, see Films to Watch Out For.

Thursday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m.
Oak Bluffs library

GTFO (Get the F*ck Out)
Through interviews with developers, journalists, and academics, this film looks at the challenges that women face in the video game industry and the ways in which the industry’s diversification has spawned clashes of values.

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
Frida
Oscar-winning biography of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, whose self-portraits explored issues of race, sex, class, and postcolonialism in Mexican society. Salma Hayek, who stars in the title role, recently wrote a New York Times op-ed about her extensive harassment by disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Thursday, Feb. 15, 4 p.m.
West Tisbury library
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
A vibrant documentary about the exhilarating, passionate, contentious early years (1966–1971) of the modern women’s movement.

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Drawing on hours of autobiographical tapes, this documentary portrays Nina Simone, the brilliant, mercurial singer, pianist, and civil rights activist dubbed the “High Priestess of Soul.” Part of the Edgartown library’s Black History Month programming.

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 5 p.m.
Chilmark library
The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen
A window into the life of Angela Bowen, who grew up in inner-city Boston during the Jim Crow era, and went on to become a classical ballerina, a legendary dance teacher, a black lesbian feminist activist organizer, writer and professor.

Saturday, Feb. 24, 3 p.m.
West Tisbury library
Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
The first feature documentary about the amazingly versatile poet, memoirist, activist, and playwright.

Tuesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Vineyard Haven library

To Keep the Light
Inspired by true stories, a lighthouse keeper’s wife struggles with her work and her sanity as she cares for her sick husband in 19th-century Maine. The astonishing Erica Fae wrote, directed, and stars in this acclaimed 2016 film.

Tuesday, March 13, 6 p.m.
Edgartown library
A Taste of Honey
In this 1961 British film directed by Tony Richardson, teenage Jo is thrown out of the house when her alcoholic mother remarries. After finding a room with a gay co-worker, Jo becomes pregnant by a black sailor — and the three manage to work it out. Then Jo’s mother shows up and things get complicated.

Poster designed by Max King