Millions of American women contributed to the drive for the vote in the United States, and New York State was home to many leaders of the movement. However, the suffrage leaders who are most recognized today – Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton – did not actually achieve their goal, since they were both dead before the suffrage victory. And most New Yorkers do not realize that women in NYS won the vote in 1917 – three years before the national constitutional amendment was passed.
So who was responsible for winning the vote for women, and why was New York the first state east of the Mississippi to allow women full suffrage in all elections? This talk will move beyond the well-known Seneca Falls Declaration of 1848 to introduce a new set of strategies and cast of characters: Miriam Leslie, Carrie Chapman Catt, Mary Garret Hay, Rose Schneiderman, Mary Talbert, “General” Rosalie Jones, Martha Greuning, and a flock of leaflet-dropping aviatrixes, among others. It will also discuss why the New York victory was so pivotal to the suffrage movement, and how the national victory was finally won in 1920.
Susan Ingalls Lewis is a Professor Emerita at the State University of New York College at New Paltz, as well as an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Dr. Lewis received her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1970, and her Ph.D. from Binghamton University in 2002. She continues to teach courses on American women’s history and New York State history and is currently co-editing Suffrage and its Limits: The New York Story (to be published by SUNY Press). Dr. Lewis is also co-authoring Girls to the Rescue: the Impact of World War I on Girls’ Series Fiction, to be published by McFarland & Company.
Professor Lewis’s monograph, Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York, 1830-1885 (Ohio State University Press, 2009) was awarded the Hagley Prize in Business History for the best book published the field. She has also been named Liberal Arts & Sciences Teacher of the Year (2007-08), won the LA & S Excellence in Scholarship Award (2011), and was awarded a SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2017). Dr. Lewis is a Fellow of the New York Academy of History, and author of the blog, New York Rediscovered. She is also the co-author, with her husband Richard, of The Power of Art, a college art appreciation textbook, and its companion blog Lewis Art Café.