Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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Far-reaching Changes: Virginia’s Woman Suffrage Movement

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  • Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Records, 1909–1935. Accession 22002, Organization Records, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Lila Meade Valentine Suffrage Lecture in Norfolk
  • Harriet Whitney Frishmuth, Lila Meade Valentine Memorial Plaque, State Artwork Collection. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Lila Meade Valentine Memorial Plaque
  • “Mrs. John H. Lewis of Lynchburg, Va. 1st Vice-President of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia Will Make An Address on Woman Suffrage.” Richmond: Pizzini Show Print, ca. 1915. Broadside.

“Open-Air Speaking at Deep Creek. Monday, April 10th, 1916.” 1916. Broadside. Equal Suffrage League of Virginia Papers, Acc. 22002. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Public Speeches on Woman Suffrage
  • Cell at Occoquan [Workhouse] and Mrs. Pauline Adams in the prison garb she wore while serving a sixty-day sentence. Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., LOC
    Cell at Occoquan Workhouse and Pauline Adams
  • Pauline Forstall Colclough Adams, Papers, 1917–1990, Accession 37402, Personal Papers Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Letter From Occoquan Workhouse
  • Broadside 1920 .S73 BOX, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Virginia League of Women Voters
  • Carroll Kem Shackelford Papers, 1954–1985, Accession 32577, Personal Papers Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Republican Woman's Club Workshop
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« Return to The Nineteenth Amendment

Far-reaching Changes:
Virginia’s Woman Suffrage Movement

The woman suffrage movement, which succeeded in 1920 with the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment, coincided with major national reform movements seeking to improve public education, create public health programs, regulate business and industrial practices, and establish standards agencies to ensure pure food and public water supplies. Public debate on these issues and simultaneous demands for better roads and public services transformed politics in Virginia and brought into the political process people who had not been active participants earlier.

Women in the United States began agitating for the right to vote in the 1840s, long before all the men in Virginia gained the franchise. In 1870, Anna Whitehead Bodeker, of Richmond, formed the Virginia State Woman Suffrage Association, and twenty years later Orra Gray Langhorne, of Lynchburg, also attempted to rally proponents. In 1909 a group of Richmond women formed the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia to educate Virginians and win their support. The League argued that Virginia women were citizens and taxpayers, that they had special interests that were being poorly addressed by male legislators, and that the spheres of home and world overlapped. Although Virginia women gained the right to vote in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Virginia General Assembly did not ratify the amendment until 1952.

People Featured in This Unit:

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  • Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906)
  • Sojourner Truth (1797–1883)
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902)
  • Lucretia Mott (1793–1880)
  • Anna Whitehead Bodeker (1827–1904)
  • Lila Meade Valentine (1865–1921)
  • Pauline Adams (1874–1957)
  • Elizabeth Bermingham Lacy (1945–)
  • Mary Sue Terry (1947–  )
  • Mary Church Terrell (1863–1954)
  • Maggie Lena Walker (1864–1934)
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