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)

 

Reading Group to Focus on Suffrage

From Feminist Reading Group leader Ellen Miller:

There has been some confusion over how we pick books and what the purpose of the group is.  As an offshoot of the Women’s Committee of We Stand Together, our purpose is to inform ourselves about women’s issues and how to best effect change.  Members of this group choose topics for discussion and then determine which books are available on each subject both in the CLAMS system and for purchase before choosing which books we will be reading and discussing.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the US in 1920, we will take the next few months to learn the history of the women’s suffrage movement. Our first meeting of the centennial will be on Friday, January 3, at 5:15 p.m. at the West Tisbury library. Here is a short list of the books we recommend on this subject:

Our main selection is The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote, by Elaine Weiss, which traces 70 years of legal battles culminating in the passage of the 19th Amendment.  There are many copies of this book in the CLAMS system (both in regular and large print format), and it is also available from local and online booksellers.

We also strongly recommend Why They Marched: Untold Stories of the Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, by Susan Ware; and The Women’s Suffrage Movement, edited by Sally Roesch Wagner, with a foreword by Gloria Steinem, which presents two centuries of original historical texts with a focus on diversity and commentary by the editor. There are five copies of each of these in the CLAMS system, so reserve one now if you are interested.

Also recommended (but not as easily found) are Alice Paul: Claiming Power by J. D. Zahniser and Amelia Fry; Century of Struggle, by Eleanor Flexner and Ellen Fitzpatrick;  and All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African-American Public Culture, 1830–1900, by Martha S. Jones.

In view of the coming holidays and the fact that The Woman’s Hour is over 400 pages long, I would expect that we will not all be able to finish reading it by our next meeting, which is on January 3.  But let’s start, and begin our discussion of the suffrage movement next month, and plan to continue in February.

Meanwhile wishing each of you and your loved ones a very happy holiday season, and a healthy and productive new year,

Meet the League of Women Voters MV

Want to help build an engaged, well-informed citizenry here on the Vineyard, across the commonwealth, and nationwide?

Check out the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard!

The League’s motto — Democracy is not a spectator sport — has never been more timely.

Among other things, the League of Women Voters MV holds voter registration drives and conducts candidate forums for state, county, and local offices. It also has a recycling program, making it easy to recycle used inkjet cartridges and old cell phones.

By joining the MV League, you support the national League of Women Voters, whose priorities include —

  • fighting voter suppression
  • limiting the influence of money in politics
  • promoting fair redistricting that makes sure that every voter is represented at the ballot box

As a member of the League of Women Voters MV, you have access to national, state and regional information on current issues with non-partisan views.

The MV League meets  monthly from September to June except December. Interested? Contact membership chair Carole Early.

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920, the year the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving U.S. women the right to vote. The 100th anniversary of both is coming up soon.

Vineyard women celebrate the League’s 75th anniversary by marching in the 1995 Fourth of July parade. From left: Carol Koury, Susanna J. Sturgis, Patty Blakesley, and Ann Hollister. They’re wearing suffragist colors: purple, white, and gold.