At Last. The Suffragist, Saturday, June 21, 1919, Bryn Mawr College Library


The President in the Fight. The Suffragist, Saturday October 19, 1918, Bryn Mawr College LibraryIn September 1918 President Wilson endorsed the amendment granting women the right to vote. Nonetheless, the NWP and the NAWSA continued their activities. The NWP maintained its public demonstrations at the White House and Capitol Building; the NAWSA launched a massive drive to encourage state support of the amendment and increased its lobbying efforts in Congress.

Ceremony ratifying the 19th Amendment in Tennessee. C.C. Catt Albums, Bryn Mawr College LibraryIt took nine months from Wilson's endorsement until Congress passed the amendment in June 1919. A major effort was required to obtain a sufficient number of states' ratifications, especially the final one, that of Tennessee's, but the 19th Amendment became law on August 26, 1920. This, at least on paper, ended the 72 year long struggle for women's suffrage in the United States.

The end of the campaign did not end the political and social activism of Bryn Mawr's suffragists. Many of them continued to work for other social causes and civic organizations. Katharine Houghton Hepburn, for example, became a well-known activist in the struggle to secure birth control rights, serving for many years as the legislative chair of the American Birth Control League.

Campaign advertisement, Susan Walker FitzGerald Papers, Special Collections, Bryn Mawr College LibrarySome alumnae such as Susan Walker FitzGerald ran for office or participated in individual political campaigns. FitzGerald was elected in 1922 as the first female Democrat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, the same year as the first female Republican representative. Other Bryn Mawr women, including Edna Gellhorn and Caroline McCormick Slade, were leaders in the struggle for voter's rights for all American citizens, particularly through their roles in the League of Women Voters.

Slade also helped conclude the story of the historic NAWSA. Two months before Carrie Chapman Catt died, and at Catt's request, Slade became the group's the last president. Four years later and only two weeks before her own death, Slade donated the last of Catt's records to the Library of Congress, an act that officially dissolved the association.

Edna Gellhorn also became involved in the League of Women Voters. In an eighty-fifth birthday interview, she spoke about the consequences of women's suffrage, the idea of human rights and the concept of citizenship:

If we'd [women] never done anything of particular notice in politics - and of course we have - the thing that was important was that women should have the right to vote, the right as people. As long as we have it in our Constitution that we believe in the inalienable right of the citizen, then women too should be citizens. It seems to me that thought was the underpinning of it all. We weren't second class citizens; we simply weren't citizens at all . . . .

I don't like to draw the line between what a man can do and what a woman can do. . . .That isn't the issue. The issue is citizenship - conscientious, equipped, effective citizenship for men and women. There aren't enough of either who are equipped to take that citizenship seriously.

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Bryn Mawr Women and the Right to Vote

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Suffrage ribbon. Women's Suffrage Ephemera Collection, Bryn Mawr College Library