Votes for Women! That slogan is synonymous with a large movement that occurred throughout the country and abroad during the mid-19th century through the early 20th century. With focus on big name women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Chapman Catt, and Alice Paul, it can be easy to overlook the importance of local women in the struggle for women’s suffrage. In our new exhibit Roaring Lakewood: The 1920s & Lakewood we highlight the contribution of many Lakewood citizens in the advancement of women’s right to vote.
Like other areas throughout the United States, Lakewood was a city where women earned the right to vote before the national amendment. While the first states to grant women the right to vote were in the Western portion of the country, they did so to challenge growing populations of immigrants and to provide greater representation of the population on issues.
However in Lakewood, its citizens campaigned for the inclusion of women voters starting in 1912. Organizing in 1912, the Lakewood Women’s Suffrage Party advocated for the inclusion of women in the democratic process. Nnot only women participated in this organization, but women’s husbands campaigned as well to grant their wives and daughters the right to vote. In 1917, the people of Lakewood put before the City Council the issue of women’s suffrage. The council passed in Lakewood, but a similar bill failed at the state level. The issue statewide on women’s suffrage failed again a year later. It was not until the ratification of the 19th Amendment that Ohio voted for the rights of its women to vote.
After The First World War the issue of women’s suffrage was again put before the nation and in 1920, states voted to ratify the 19th Amendment. After the 19th Amendment went into law, the Lakewood Women’s Suffrage Party transformed into the Lakewood League of Women Voters. This organization, like countless others across the country, is still active today. Its purpose is to educate the public on political issues not only about women, but political issues in general. It can be a source of unbiased information about local, state, and national issues that appear on the ballot. Many women who urged for the inclusion of women went on to serve in other areas of politics that will be discussed in future posts.
Photo: Across the state, Ohioans sought to grant women the right to vote. Pictured here is a group of suffragettes from Columbus rallying for the right to vote. (Credit: Ohio History Connection)