A hundred years ago, women in most of the United States could not vote.
August 18th marks the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – which gave women nationwide the right to vote in every election.
Generations of women fought for more than seven decades to achieve their rights. They fought to be heard, and were often told they needed to be patient, and wait while other, more pressing, problems were resolved.
In celebration of their achievement, here are some books featuring suffragists in both the United States and Great Britain:
From its eighteenth century beginnings, women’s suffrage in the United States was inextricably combined with the fight to abolish slavery, and many people worked on both issues at the same time.
Sarah and Hetty grow up together in South Carolina, but Sarah is a Southern planter’s daughter, and Hetty is her personal slave. Their experiences inspire both girls towards a lifetime of rebellion as suffragists and abolitionists in this novel by the author of The Secret Life of Bees.
Many suffragists in both countries were members of the upper class, who benefitted from more education, and greater freedom, than women from other groups.
When a veteran of the Boer War commits suicide, suffragette Lady Frances Ffolkes is pulled into a search for his missing manuscript – a manuscript Scotland Yard and the British Secret Service also desperately want. Followed by Death among Rubies
Women who agitated for the vote, especially in Britain, were often accused of exacerbating the already turbulent political events of their era.
Eighteen year old Kitty Challoner, about to make her London debut, has no interest in the politics and upheavals of 1911. Only when her half-Russian mother is murdered and the clues point to her mother’s previously secret links to both suffragists and anarchists, does Kitty begin to question the events that surround her. This is a standalone title from a prolific author, suggested for fans of Victoria Thompson and Rhys Bowen.
When World War I began, women in both the United States and Britain were told that patriotism required that women’s suffrage once again be delayed in favor of more important issues.
When Great Britain enters World War I, suffragist Thea Brissenden must choose between her cause and her country. This is a standalone title by the author of the Maisie Dobbs series.
By the time World War I had ended women were unwilling to continue waiting, knowing that their contributions and sacrifices demanded full citizenship.
In 1918, Molly Murphy’s detective work is interrupted by a request from suffragist friends to march with them in New York City’s famous Easter Parade, even though their cause is vehemently opposed by her fiancé, Daniel Sullivan. This is the eighth title in Bowen’s Molly Murphy series. Bowen is also the author of the Royal Spyness mysteries.
For an immersive experience into the lives and struggles of the suffragists check out these DVDs:
The youngest, most radical members of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States are willing to sacrifice almost anything for their cause.
A working wife and mother finds her life transformed when she secretly joins other British women fighting for equality.