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Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote

MHS Resources Relating to this Topic

The Massachusetts Historical Society's collections include manuscript collections relating to people and organizations involved with the anti-suffrage and suffrage movements, as well as many assorted cartoons, broadsides, and ephemera conveying both pro-suffrage and anti-suffrage messages.


  • Explore the following fully digitized collection available online: Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women records.
  • Portraits of many figures involved in the suffrage debate are available in the fully digitized collection of Portraits of American Abolitionists.
  • Caroline Healey Dall manuscripts and published editions

    Caroline Healey Dall (1822-1912) was a prominent 19th-century reformer and essayist. Dall, a feminist and Unitarian Church liberal, played a significant role in the antislavery and women's suffrage movements. The Massachusetts Historical Society holds a large collection of her personal papers and they are described in the collection guide to the Caroline Wells Healey Dall papers. The MHS is also working on a documentary edition of the Selected Journals of Caroline Healey Dall, edited by Helen R. Deese. Please see the Publications, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society webpage for details about these volumes. Read more about Dall's life and the documentary project here.

  • Papers of Judith Winsor Smith

    Judith Winsor Smith (1821-1921) was involved in numerous social and political organizations and causes. She was an abolitionist, a member of the Congregational Society, a founder and the first president of the Home Club of East Boston (the second women's club in Massachusetts), and an officer in state and national women's suffrage associations. Smith remained active in the suffrage movement until the nineteenth amendment was passed in 1920. The collection guide to the Papers of Judith Winsor Smith is available through the MHS website.

  • Papers of Mary Bowditch Forbes

    Mary Bowditch Forbes (1878-1961) was an anti-suffragist, anti-socialist, and anti-pacifist lobbyist. For more information, examine the collection guide to the Papers of Mary Bowditch Forbes.

  • Manuscripts relating to Mary C. Smith

    Mary C. Smith was involved with the woman's suffrage movement in Massachusetts from 1892-1900. She wrote many letters to influential people asking them to make statements on the woman's suffrage question. She was married to Calvin W. Smith and her letters are within the Calvin W. Smith papers; (refer to the collection guide).

Web Features

"A big baby always having to be fed and never growing up": Lucy Stone and The Woman's Journal
Learn about Lucy Stone, the American Woman's Suffrage Association and its publication, The Woman's Journal, in this online feature.

"A rash and dreadful act for a woman": The 1915 Woman Suffrage Parade in Boston
This web feature describes the state of the Massachusetts suffrage movement in 1915, when supporters of women's suffrage held a parade and rally on 16 October 1915, just weeks before the majority of Massachusetts men voting on 2 November 1915 voted against an amendment to the state constitution that would have struck the word "male" from the article that gave men the right to vote

The Biblical View of the Great Question of Woman’s Suffrage
Read about a letter written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1869 requesting Edward Morris Davis, a wealthy merchant who supported many social reforms, to speak about woman's suffrage at the annual meeting of the American Equal Rights Association.

The Role of Massachusetts Women in the Abolition and Suffrage Movements (Lesson plan)
Explore lessons and handouts developed by Brianna M. Murphy, Advanced Math & Science Academy Charter School, Marlborough, MA, that focus on the evolving role of women in reform movements.

Printed Materials (Online)

"Woman's Suffrage"
Engraving by Fredrikke S. Palmer
What Breaks Up the Home?
Broadside by Mary Ellen Sigsbee
To the Male Citizen
Broadside by Mary Ellen Sigsbee

Votes for Women: “Let the People Rule”
Broadside by Clifford K. Berryman
"Make Way!"
Cartoon by [Laura E. Foster]
Madam, Who Keeps Your House?
Broadside by National American Woman Suffrage Association

Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Victory Parade : Instructions for Marchers
Representative Women
The South's Battalion of Death
Broadside, n.d.

The Remonstrance
January 1908
Anti-Suffrage Calendar, 1917
Anti-suffrage calendar-1916. Including page for January and February.

The anti-suffrage rose
Words and music by Phil Hanna
Shall the Tail Wag the Dog?
Count the Cost
Circular by the Women's Anti-Suffrage Association of Massachusetts

Postcard with rose
Postcard by Massachusetts Anti-Suffrage Society
Population Votes, Not Area
Broadside, [circa 1913]
Stop! Look! Listen!
Pamphlet by the Pennsylvania Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, January 1915

Mr. Voter!
Circular by the Women's Anti-Suffrage Association of Massachusetts
To the Working Man
Circular by the Women's Anti-Suffrage Association of Massachusetts
Some Reasons Why Women Oppose Votes for Women
Circular by the Women's Anti-Suffrage Association of Massachusetts

Vote No on Woman Suffrage
Professional jealousy
Broadside by E. Voos
The Remonstrance
January 1908

Papa Minds the Baby
Photogravure J.A. Desmond. Dorchester
"Her Mother's Voice"
Cartoon by Harold Bird, January 1912
Hugging a Delusion
Postcard by Laura E. Foster, 1915

Two Sisters of the Future
Engraving by R. F. Schabel?
The Pity Of It!