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Suffrage collection

Identifier: SSC-MS-00447

Scope and Contents

The Suffrage Collection documents efforts to gain the vote for women. Although primarily focused on U.S. campaigns, the collection also contains material from the English suffrage movement, and to a lesser extent, women's suffrage in other countries. Types of material include such printed material as pamphlets, leaflets, newspaper and periodical clippings, petitions, legislative documents, and books; manuscript materials including unpublished writings and correspondence; photographs, which document suffrage parades, demonstrations, organizations, and individuals; and suffrage memorabilia and ephemera, including fliers, cartoons, postcards, buttons, pins, stickers, banners, playing cards, songbooks, scrapbooks, and a cookbook.

SERIES I. UNITED STATES is the most comprehensive portion of the collection. The bulk of this series documents the period between the 1880s and 1920s and is divided into eight subseries: Congressional documents, Subjects, Printed materials, Organizations, Individuals, Memorabilia, States, and Anti-Suffrage.

The Congressional documents subseries contains reprints from the Congressional Record and other printed records of bills and arguments regarding women's suffrage presented in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives arranged chronologically. Materials in the Subjects subseries pertain to particular events and trends in the suffrage movement and consist of clippings, photographs, and pamphlets. Suffrage parades are well represented by the photographs and programs located in this subseries. The Printed materials subseries is arranged by types of material and contains clippings, pamphlets, cartoons, and other publications that encompass the span of the suffrage movement. The Organizations subseries contains significant amounts of printed material and lesser amounts of correspondence and publicity published by national suffrage organizations including the American Woman Suffrage Association, National Woman Suffrage Association, and the College Equal Suffrage League. A large portion of publications and meeting materials, including bound volumes of proceedings and handbooks, represent the National American Woman Suffrage Organization. For state suffrage organizations, see the States subseries.

The Individuals subseries contains limited biographical information and photographs of suffragists. Materials documenting Alice Stone Blackwell, Ida Husted Harper, Gertrude Foster Brown, Alice Park, and Anna Howard Shaw are among the more unique items in this subseries. A whimsical collection of suffrage ephemera can be found in the Memorabilia subseries. Stickers, buttons, playing cards, and sewing accessories advertising "Votes for Women," and photographs of memorabilia, as well as a large collection of pro-suffrage postcards and greeting cards provide a sense of the interplay between political activism and popular culture. Several oversize items, such as a suffrage pennant, veil, and "Votes for Women" tote bag, were removed to the Flat File. The States subseries contains an eclectic mix of materials documenting state-oriented suffrage fights. Many state files contain clippings, publications from local organizations, and histories of state campaigns, while the files for Massachusetts and New York contain more in-depth documentation. A range of materials pertaining to the New York State Woman Suffrage Association, including election tabulations and Suffrage Correspondence School lessons, have been collected, and several Massachusetts state organizations are represented. The final subseries concerns Anti-suffrage activities and includes memorabilia, publications, organizations, and state campaigns in opposition to woman suffrage. Also included is a set of anti-suffrage tracts entitled, Why Women Do Not Want the Ballot.

Note: photographs are interspersed throughout SERIES I. UNITED STATES, especially under Subjects--Parades, and in the Individuals subseries.

SERIES II. ENGLAND documents the English suffrage movement and follows the arrangement of SERIES I. UNITED STATES with the following subseries: Subjects, Printed materials, Organizations, Individuals, and Memorabilia. The bulk of the series dates from the 1890s to the 1910s. The Organizations include publications of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and the St. Joan's Alliance; and files in Individuals contain publications, correspondence, and photographs of the Pankhurst family and Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence that document militant resistance to voting restrictions. Researchers interested in English suffrage may also wish to consult the Alice Morgan Wright Papers in the SSC. Wright participated in the militant suffrage campaign of 1912 and was jailed in Holloway Prison.

SERIES III. INTERNATIONAL contains small amounts of material, primarily newspaper clippings, documenting the struggle for women's suffrage in other countries. Files for France, Germany, Denmark, and a few others, contain more diverse types of materials such as publications and photographs.

Oversize materials that were removed from the above series are at the end of the collection and in the Flat File. These include fifteen scrapbooks (1909-20) of Mary Bartlett Dixon Cullen, who collected clippings and printed materials pertaining to suffrage in Maryland and on the national scene; a scrapbook of the Pennsylvania Men's League for Woman Suffrage; posters; newspapers; and memorabilia such as pennants and banners. Over twenty-five volumes of books and suffrage periodicals complete the collection and are listed at the end of this finding aid. A small number of the journals and the fifteen scrapbooks of Mary Cullen are available on microfilm.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1851-2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1880s-1920s


Language of Materials

English, French, German

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.


29.001 linear feet (66 containers)


Feminists, Suffragists. Comprised largely of printed materials such as pamphlets, newspaper clippings, petitions, legislative documents, articles, periodicals, and books pertaining to the enfranchisement of women primarily in the U.S., but also in England and there are small amounts of material on other countries. There are also manuscript materials including unpublished writings and correspondence. Photographs document suffrage parades, demonstrations, groups, and individuals. Suffrage memorabilia and ephemera includes broadsides, fliers, cartoons, postcards, buttons, pins, stickers, banners, playing cards, songbooks, a novel, poetry, scrapbooks, and a cookbook. U.S. and British suffrage organizations, such as the National American Woman Suffrage Association, the National Women's Party, and the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies are well represented; and there are biographical materials, speeches, photographs, and writings by and about prominent suffragists including Carrie Chapman Catt, Jane Addams, Alice Stone Blackwell, Ida Husted Harper, Gertrude Foster Brown, Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, Emmeline Pankhurst, Anna Howard Shaw, and many others.


This collection is arranged as follows:


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials in this subject collection were either purchased or given to the Sophia Smith Collection by various donors.

Additional Formats

Scrapbooks of Mary Bartlett Cullen are available on microfilm. Selected volumes of the Woman's Journal; Jus Suffragii; and Women's Suffrage Pilgrimage Journal are available on microfilm.

Related Material

Researchers should consult the Suffrage Subject Guide (on the SSC Web site) and the card catalog for numerous other sources related to women's suffrage in the Sophia Smith Collection.

Processing Information

Reprocessed by Amanda Izzo, 2005.

Finding aid to the Suffrage collection
Amanda Izzo
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:12-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-04-25: Made paper FA pencil edit changes.
  • 2020-12-07: Updated over 25 flat files, updated dates and extents

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063