Women’s Suffrage Collection

Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago - Special Collections and University Archives
Richard J. Daley Library
801 S. Morgan St., Room 3-330
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 312-996-2742
Date: 1874-1920
Extent: .25 Linear Feet
Finding Aid

Biographical/Historical Note:
Mary Wollstonecraft advocated for women's suffrage in her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, in 1792. The Chartists adopted her ideas about the need for women to vote during the 1840s. Intellectuals such as John Stuart Mill argued for the desirability of allowing women to vote. The first committee organized solely for the purpose of promoting women's suffrage was created in Manchester in 1865 and was soon joined by numerous other suffrage societies throughout Great Britain. Suffrage bills were presented to Parliament only to be rejected.

Women's suffrage in the United States emerged partly out of the broader anti-slavery movement with key figures such as Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton arguing that it was just as necessary to secure rights for women as to free the slaves. The Seneca Falls Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19-20, 1848 produced declarations calling for more educational and professional opportunities for women, and argued for the necessity of women's suffrage. Lucy Stone held the first national convention of the women's movement in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1850.

Susan B. Anthony would join forces with Stone in 1852 to hold another convention in Syracuse, New York. Political activists such as Anthony and Stanton hoped to secure a constitutional amendment granting suffrage similar to the rights granted to the newly freed slaves in the 1860s. They created the American Women's Suffrage Association in 1869. The broad movement grew in strength throughout the English speaking world and the Nordic countries during the latter part of the 19th Century, but political resistance proved too strong to secure voting rights for women until the general shock of World War I. There were exceptions such as the State Constitution of Wyoming granting women the right to vote in 1890, as well as New Zealand in 1893 and Australia in 1902, but women did not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920.

Scope and Content Note:
The Women's Suffrage Collection includes political pamphlets, published articles, clippings, correspondence, programs, reports, and other political literature. Items from the Illinois Women's Legislative Congress, the 6th Ward Civic League, the Chicago Political Equality League, and the Chicago Women's Club, as well as correspondence from notable figures such as Susan B. Anthony and Lucinda B. Chandler constitute a significant part of this collection.

Related Material: None