Women's Suffrage in Vermont Collection
The Women’s Suffrage in Vermont Collection documents Vermonters’ efforts to obtain voting rights for women. With contributions from the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, the Leahy Library at the Vermont Historical Society, and...
Show moreThe Women’s Suffrage in Vermont Collection documents Vermonters’ efforts to obtain voting rights for women. With contributions from the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration, the Leahy Library at the Vermont Historical Society, and Silver Special Collections at the University of Vermont, the collection focuses on the period from 1870 to 1920.
The Women’s Suffrage in Vermont Collection include VESA annual meeting reports and correspondence, legislation, promotional materials such as broadsides and leaflets, and photographs.
In 1870, the Vermont Council of Censors proposed an amendment to the state constitution calling for full suffrage for women. A group of men formed the Vermont Woman Suffrage Association to support the amendment, which failed by a vote of 231 to 1 at the constitutional convention. Ten years later, taxpaying women did obtain the right to vote and hold office in school districts. The Vermont Woman Suffrage Association (VWSA) reorganized in 1884 and focused on achieving woman suffrage in municipal elections by introducing voting rights legislation, advocating in newspapers, and holding meetings and rallies with local and national speakers. The VWSA, which became the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association (VESA) in 1907, worked closely with the American Woman Suffrage Association, later the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Anti-suffragists formed the Vermont Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage in 1912, and by 1917, when the Vermont legislature passed a law that allowed taxpaying women to vote in local elections, the organization claimed over 5,000 members.
VESA continued to push for full suffrage, and came close in 1919 when the legislature passed a bill allowing women to vote in presidential elections. Governor Clement refused to sign the bill, and the House of Representatives upheld his veto. After Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919, VESA members campaigned vigorously to have the legislature consider state ratification, but Governor Clement refused to call a special session and the amendment was ratified in 1920 without Vermont’s support. With the right to vote obtained, VESA dissolved and the new Vermont League of Women Voters took on the task of educating Vermont women about civic responsibilities.
Clifford, Deborah P. The Drive for Women's Municipal Suffrage in Vermont 1883-1917. Vermont History 47, no. 3 (1979): 173-190.
Clifford, Deborah P. An Invastion of Strong-Minded Women: The Newspapers and the Woman Suffrage Campaign in Vermont in 1870. Vermont History 43, no. 1 (1975): 1-19.
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