Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Women's History Month 2017: Suffrage

Life, July 1915
What does having full citizenship mean? For family historians, a woman's lack of full citizenship can mean fewer records for documenting female ancestors. In the years after  the Great War, women were still fighting for their citizenship rights including the right to vote.

The fight for the right to vote had been a long battle. Women had  been fighting for suffrage (since at least 1848) and after all they did for the war effort, support for their cause increased. But, there was still some more fighting to be done.

A look at the fight for suffrage in the few years after the war until women were granted the right to vote could be covered in a book or movie (and it has). Suffice it to say that US women gained the national right to vote in 1920 with the passing of the 19th amendment. However, women in US territories didn't get the vote until later (For example, some Puerto Rican women received the right to vote in 1929 and full suffrage was granted in 1935).Women in the UK received partial suffrage in 1918 (they had to be 30 years of age and either have property or university degree) and full suffrage in 1928. Starting in 1916 and continuing until 1940 women in Canada started voting depending on the Province they lived in (and various qualifications).

An important aspect of researching a female ancestor in this time period should be learning more about voting rights where she lived and extant voting records.

  • When was the first election your female ancestor voted in? Was it a local or national election?
  • Do you have any home sources that suggest membership in a Suffrage (or Anti-Suffrage) organization?

Additional Resources:
Gena's Genealogy - Women's History Month 2015: Women's Suffrage
Gena's Genealogy - Women's History Month 2016: Tip #17 When Did She Vote?
National Women's History Museum - Reforming Their World: Women in the Progressive Era

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