Women’s suffrage did not happen in a vacuum, rather it was the result of decades of women moving out of the home and into the schools and workplaces. The Philadelphia region has a strong tradition of progressing women’s rights and opportunities for education, work, and other activities. Additionally, the city’s role as a center for African-American politics and culture, as well as institutions such as the world’s first medical college for women, mark the region as a significant center for civil rights.
HSP is proud to be a partner to a digital initiative called In Her Own Right: Women Asserting Their Civil Rights, 1820-1920. Focused on more than 45 collections from 8 regional repositories, this project showcases archival materials that explore women’s work leading up to the passage of the 19th Amendment. The project is digitizing these materials and making them searchable through a single online interface and include contextual essays for researchers.
HSP holds a large amount of historically significant material on suffrage and women’s history. Collections include the Caroline Katzenstein papers and the Dora Kelly Lewis correspondence, among others. Katzenstein's first foray into the woman's suffrage movement occurred when she was hired to be secretary of the Pennsylvania branch of the National American Woman's Suffrage Association (NAWSA). After proving her ability to publicize NAWSA's events and goals, she joined the organization's national membership committee and became executive secretary. She helped found the National Woman's Party (NWP) which led the suffrage movement to the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Dora Kelly Lewis was an ardent supporter of women’s suffrage. She was active in the
National American Woman Suffrage Association before joining the National Woman’s Party, where she served as chairman of finance, national treasurer, and head of the ratification committee. Her correspondence to family members and other suffragists details her advocacy and experiences while campaigning for women's rights. She was a close friend and confident of Alice Paul, the leading figure of the National Women’s Party.
As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we invite you to click here to check out this exciting new resource! Please continue to check back as we will be adding new materials in the coming months.