Hege Library & Learning Technologies

Election: Resources to Vote

This guide is to help Guilford student connect to resources they need to knowledgeably cast their ballots in U.S. elections, including methods to vote locally or by absentee ballot and how to find reliable information about candidates.

History of the Women's Suffrage Movement

2020 was the 100 year anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment which granted white women in America the right to vote. 

The suffrage movement officially began in America with the first ever women rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in the summer of 1848. Although women has been vocal for decades before this about earning women the vote, this convention marked the first widespread acknowledgment of the movement. Many Quaker women were responsible for the success of the convention, including Lucretia Mott and Mary Ann McClintock, as well as other non-Quaker leaders within the suffrage movement like Elizabeth Cady Stanton. 

After the Civil War the 14th and 15th Amendments were passed, extending the Constitutions rights to all citizens and giving the right to vote to black men. The women’s suffrage movement saw this as an opportunity to grant suffrage to both women and black men. However, citizens were defined as “male” in these amendments, and many women chose not to support the 15th Amendment at all because of it. This was perhaps the beginning of a long history of the women rights movement prioritizing the rights of white women over the rights of black men and women. 

In 1869 Elizabeth Cody Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the National Women Suffrage Association with the goal of adding a universal suffrage amendment to the Constitution. Women protested, lobbied, lectured and wrote extensively in support of the cause. Some western states like Idaho and Utah granted women the right to vote well before the 19th Amendment was passed, but the eastern and southern states refused. 

In the 20th century Alice Paul founded the National Women’s Party, a suffrage group that approached the movement with more aggressive tactics. They organized hunger strikes and White House picketing, which was a very unpopular move during the first World War. 

Finally, on August 18, 1920 the 19th Amendment was passed, granting white women the right to vote. In that years presidential election, more than 8 million women voted for the first time.