A Guide to the Equal Suffrage League Collection, 1909-1938 Equal Suffrage League Collection, 1909-1938 22002

A Guide to the Equal Suffrage League Records, 1909-1938

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 22002


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Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
USA
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2003 By the Library of Virginia.

Processed by: Jennifer Davis McDaid

Repository
Library of Virginia
Accession number
22002
Title
Records, 1909-1938
Extent
17.43 cu. ft. (22 boxes)
Creator
Equal Suffrage League
Physical Location
Organization records collection, Acc. 22002
Language
English

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Box 5, Folders 346-354 are fragile, serve duplicates only.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Equal Suffrage League. Records, 1909-1938. Accession 22002, Organization records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Ida Mae Thompson, 1942.


Biographical/Historical Information

The Equal Suffrage League of Virginia was formed in 1909 by a small group of Richmond activists. The League elected Lila Meade Valentine as its president and included writers Ellen Glasgow and Mary Johnston, artists Adele Clark and Nora Houston, and Dr. Kate Waller Barrett among its members. Through canvassing, distributing leaflets, and public speaking, the Equal Suffrage League intended to educate Virginias citizens and legislators and win their support for womens suffrage. Nearly 120 members joined during the Leagues first year of existence.

By 1911, state headquarters for the Equal Suffrage League had been established in Richmond. Despite the fact that the League was one of the most vital suffrage organizations in the South, womens suffrage resolutions were defeated in the Virginia legislature in 1914 and 1916. After the 1916 defeat, Virginia suffragists worked primarily for the passage of a federal amendment. Membership in the League grew dramatically from 9,662 in 1916 to nearly 16,000 in 1917. By the time the Nineteenth Amendment was passed by Congress in June 1919, the Equal Suffrage League boasted 30,000 members.

Despite the efforts of the Equal Suffrage League, Virginia was one of the nine southern states which refused to grant the vote to women. Within a few weeks of the national victory in 1920, the Equal Suffrage League disbanded. The Virginia League of Women Voters, as its successor, shortly afterwards began work to make the new vote an informed one. Virginia did not ratify the Nineteenth Amendment until 1952.

For a description of the suffrage movement in Virginia, see Carol Jean Clare, The Woman Suffrage Movement in Virginia: its Nature, Rationale, and Tactics (M.A., University of Virginia, 1968); Sara Hunter Graham, Woman Suffrage in Virginia: the Equal Suffrage League and Pressure Group Politics, 1909-1920, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 101 (April 1993): 227-250; Trudy Jean Hamner, A Divine Discontent: Mary Johnston and Woman Suffrage in Virginia (M.A., University of Virginia, 1972); Charlotte Jean Shelton, Woman Suffrage and Virginia Politics, 1909-1920 (M.A., University of Virginia 1969); and Marjorie Spruill Wheeler, New Women of the New South: the Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States (Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1990).

Scope and Content Information

Papers, 1909-1938, of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Includes correspondence, organization records for both the Equal Suffrage League and the League of Women Voters, printed materials, newspaper clippings, "Votes for Women" buttons, and postcards. The publications relate to womens suffrage and related issues of government, organization, education, child and economic welfare, and the legal status of women. The collections correspondence includes a sizable number of letters by Jessie Townsend and Mary Elizabeth Pidgeon, along with those of Adele Clark, Edith Clark Cowles, and Lila Meade Valentine.

The collection was received by the Virginia State Library in 1942 from Ida Mae Thompson, a clerk with the WPA Historical Records Survey. Thompson had previously served as office secretary for the Equal Suffrage League and the League of Women Voters.

The researcher is advised to consult the finding aid before examining the records. Due to the artificial nature of the collection, certain types of material will appear in more than one location, with original order taking precedence; for example, Ida Thompsons Historic Records Survey requests for information on local suffrage leagues are filed in Box 3 by locality, along with letters and materials sent in response, while the majority of correspondence is filed chronologically in Boxes 1 and 2.

The suffrage crusade was complementary to other reform movements of the early twentieth century. While mobilized to win the vote, suffragists fought for changes in child labor laws and food and drug regulations. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the League directed their efforts to patriotic relief, advocating domestic food production and seeking subscribers for Liberty Loans. The materials in the Equal Suffrage League collection reflect this diversity of effort.

Related collections in the Virginia State Library and Archives include the organization records of the League of Women Voters, 1950-1970 (Accession 27804). Additional related collections are at the Virginia Historical Society (Adele Clark Papers, Houston Papers, and Lila Meade Valentine Papers) and the Cabell Library, Virginia Commonwealth University (Adele Clark Papers).

Arrangement

Much of the original order of the Equal Suffrage League collection has been lost. Where possible, the processors maintained the order established and noted by Thompson. Elsewhere, the processors supplied an order that seemed most consistent with the evidence available.

Contents List

Box 1
Folder 1-55
Correspondence, 1909-1933
Box 2
Folder 56-60
Correspondence, undated and fragile
Historical Records Survey (Inquiries and Responses, 1936-1937)
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Organization Records, Equal Suffrage League, National
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Organization Records, Equal Suffrage League, Virginia
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Organization Records, Equal Suffrage League, Virginia, Petitions
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Equal Suffrage League, Newport News
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Equal Suffrage League, Norfolk
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Equal Suffrage League, Richmond
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Equal Suffrage League, Roanoke
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University Suffrage League, Albemarle County
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League of Women Voters, Virginia
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League of Women Voters, National
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League of Women Voters, Norfolk
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Legue of Women Voters, Richmond
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League of Women Voters, New York
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Men's League for Women Suffrage
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Men's Equal Suffrage League, Virginia
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National American Woman Suffrage Association
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National Woman's Party, Norfolk
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National Women's Trade Union League
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Equal Suffrage League, Virginia
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League of Women Voters, Virginia
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Subject files
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Equal Suffrage League, Virginia
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League of Women Voters
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National American Woman Suffrage Association
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Stationary
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Suffrage materials, miscellaneous
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World War I
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Postcards
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Publications, Business Women's Equal Suffrage League
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Publications, Equal Suffrage League, Virginia
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Publications, Equal Suffrage League, Non-Virginia

Including Alabama, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New England, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

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Publications, League of Women Voters
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Publications, League of Women Voters, National
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Publications, League of Women Voters, Virginia
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Publications, Men's League for Women Suffrage
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Publications, National Consumer's League
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Publications, National Federation of Federal Employees
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Publications, National Motion Picture League
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Publications, National Municipal League
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New York City Consumers' League
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Publications, National Woman's Party
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Publications, National Women's Trade Union League of America
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Publications, National American Woman Suffrage Association
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Publications, Progressive Party
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Publications, Suffrage, England
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Publications, Suffrage, Miscellaneous
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Publications, State Central Committee of Suffrage Amendment Alliance, Illinois
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Publications, Suffrage School, Maine
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Publications, Virginia Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage
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Publications, Wage Earner's Suffrage League
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Publications, Women's Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor
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Publications, Woman Citizen
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Publications, Woman's Club, Richmond
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Publications, Woman's Journal and Suffrage News
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Publications, Woman Suffrage Party
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Publications, Virginia
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Publications, Miscellaneous
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Publications, Duplicates
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Index cards
Box: 13

Each card includes a brief history of the delegates opinion and voting record on the suffrage question recorded by a member of the Equal Suffrage League. Photographs of the delegates are attached to some of the cards.

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Scrapbooks, 1914-1919
Box: 14
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Box 15
The Woman's Journal, 1909-1912
Box 16
Newspaper clippings, unarranged
Box 17
Newspaper clippings, unarranged
Box 18
Oversize newspaper clippings, unarranged
Box 19
Oversize newspaper clippings, loose scrapbook pages, unarranged
Box 20
Oversize maps and posters, 1934
Box 21
Vote for Women buttons and printing plate of U.S. map
Box 22
Buttons, name badges, ribbons, ink stamps, glass negatives