The Women's March to the Ballot Box

Celebrating  the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment Granting Women the Right to Vote
What might have been on the mind of the average young woman, living and working in a small town like Ann Arbor in the early 1910s?  Her name is Edith.

Edith was a member of a large working-class family.She was about to graduate from high school and was working to save money for her further education. 

 

Edith was hired to serve at a tea party for women’s suffrage hosted by Mrs. Anna Botsford Bach.  She found the discussion about voting rights as they awaited the arrival of the 4th guest fascinating and listened intently throughout the party. 

Family discussions around the dinner table often debated the suffrage movement.  Her mother had voted in school elections and the local affairs but had not been able to vote in national elections. 

 

Her father suggested she attend the meeting set up by the University for women her age to find ow what she could do to get involved.  One of her sisters encouraged her to enroll at the University of Michigan but the family was not able to help pay her tuition.

 

Instead, she attended the Stenographic Institute on North University and was able to secure a job as a secretary and later a bookkeeper.

She continued to be interested in women’s suffrage and joined the Ann Arbor Equal Suffrage Association. She attended local women’s rights events, joined in marches and handed out flyers. 

With the passage of the 19th amendment, Edith was able to vote for the first time. She volunteered at the 4th ward polling site, working at the voting desk registering voters and handing out ballots. At the end of the day, Edith cast her own ballot

We will take a look at the passage of the 19th amendment through the lens of historic events, video,photographs, first person accounts, documents and letters. 

Silver tea service, china, small tables, rug, tablecloth, painting, purple dress on the right are from the Bach Family. Dresses and hats also from the WCHS collection

White dresses and hats from the collection, photo of William Jennings Bryant 1908 visit to Ann Arbor, loaned by Will Hathaway

Dresses, hats, men's clothing, eye glasses, ledger, inkwell, Novy family pram, baby blanket and  doll are also part of the WCHS collection. Photo of  women on the mantle and the metal 4th Ward ballot box were, loaned by Will Hathaway. Wooden chairs and red quill loaned by Karen Jania.

The Photo: A March 3, 1913, photo taken at the suffrage parade showing the marchers (left to right) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Mrs. Althea Taft, Mrs. Lew Bridges, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, Alberta Hill, and Miss F. Ragsdale