Miller NAWSA Suffrage Scrapbooks, 1897-1911


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Catch the Suffragists' Spirit!

Historical Setting

By 1896 there were four "stars" on the woman suffrage flag. Women could vote in four western states--Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. The fifth "star," Washington, was not secured until 1910.

The intervening years in the suffrage movement have sometimes been called "the doldrums." Suffrage referenda in Oregon, Washington, South Dakota, and New Hampshire all failed. In New York, annual attempts to pass a state suffrage amendment were blocked in legislative committee. U.S. Congressmen repeatedly ignored the suffragists' pleas for a federal constitutional amendment. The traditional tactics of petitioning and letter writing were ineffective. Older suffrage leaders were growing weary and dying--Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1902, Susan B. Anthony in 1906, and Julia Ward Howe in 1910. And, anti-suffragists were becoming more vocal.

Yet during these years positive changes were taking place that strengthened the movement. More women were becoming wage earners. College-educated women were generating new energy and ideas. Such women recognized practical reasons for voting to protect their particular interests and to improve society's ills. New organizations expanded the suffrage support base by experimenting with more aggressive tactics such as outdoor meetings and parades. The involvement of wealthy socialites brought greater press coverage and sorely needed funds. More men became visible supporters. Speaking tours across the United States by British suffragists deepened the bonds between "sisters" fighting for a common cause.

It was during these intervening years that Elizabeth Smith Miller and her daughter Anne became more active in the suffrage cause. They assembled scrapbooks primarily to preserve the history of the Geneva Political Equality Club--their local suffrage group. Although many of the dominant themes of women's suffrage are recorded at the local level, these issues are also present at the national and international levels and are chronicled in the scrapbooks.