Timeline and Map of Woman Suffrage Legislation State by State 1838-1919

In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution required all states to allow women to vote on the same basis as men, but the fight for voting rights had started more than a century earlier and had steadily piled up victories beginning in 1838 when the Kentucky legislature agreed that widows and unmarried women who owned property subject to taxation for school purposes would be allowed to vote in elections relating to schools. The maps and charts below show the campaign year by year and state by state as suffrage activists and their allies introduced legislation that often failed and at other times yielded only partial voting rights, typically limited to school elections or the right to vote in only municipal or presidential elections. Here we show the outcome of 249 measures and the changing map of voting rights for women. The maps are hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page.

Move between four maps and timelines

 

 

Research and data compilation: Katie Anastas

Maps: James Gregory

Sources:

  • Harper, Ida H., ed. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. 6. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. History of Woman Suffrage was edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda J. Gage, and Ida H. Harper. It was published by the National American Woman Suffrage Association in six volumes. Volume six is divided into chapters by state. The authors describe legislative decisions and the activities of suffrage organizations year by year. This volume was accessed through the “Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000” site from Alexander Street Press, edited by Kathryn Kish Sklar and Thomas Dublin.
  • Keyssar, Alexander. The Right to Vote: A Contested History of Democracy in the United States. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Print. In this book, Alexander Keyssar discusses how voting rights have changed throughout American history. Included in the woman suffrage section is a list of years when states allowed women to vote in school elections, municipal elections, and presidential elections prior to the Nineteenth Amendment.
  • Lunardini, Christine. From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, 1910-1928. New York: toExcel, 1986. Print. This book focuses on Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party. The first chapter of the book, titled “Breaking with the Past: The New Suffragists,” discusses the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s early work outside of Washington D.C. as individual states began to enfranchise women.
  • Mead, Rebecca J. How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914. New York: New York University Press, 2004. Print. In this book, Rebecca Mead discusses tactics, victories, and shortcomings of the early suffrage movement in the Western U.S., including California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Nevada. She explains suffragists’ reliance on support from labor groups, socialists, and the working class in states like California, and outlines voting patterns in several legislative events in each state.
  • Pearce, Stella E. “Suffrage in the Pacific Northwest: Old Oregon and Washington.” The Washington Historical Quarterly, vol. 3, no. 2, 1912, pp. 106–114 This journal article by Stella Pearce provides a history of early suffrage laws in the territories of Oregon and Washington, beginning in 1840. Pearce explains each suffrage law and major legislative decision.

 


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