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Discussing Suffrage 1848–1876

In order to understand historical movements, it is important to listen to the voices of those who were present at the time. This exhibit opens with the work of three well-known American woman suffrage leaders of the nineteenth century: Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902), Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906), and Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826–1898). Their two-volume History of Woman Suffrage covering the years 1848 to 1876 was published in New York City by Fowler and Wells in 1881.

In the preface, Stanton, Anthony, and Gage note their closeness to the subject matter and defend the writing of history from a subjective view point:

"To be historians of a reform in which we have been among the chief actors, has its points of embarrassment as well as advantage. Those who fight the battle can best give what all readers like to know--the impelling motives to action; the struggle in the face of opposition; the vexation under ridicule; and the despair in success too long deferred."

"As an autobiography is more interesting than a sketch by another, so is history written by its actors, as in both cases we get nearer the soul of the subject."

Evidently their approach was a success. Four more volumes would follow by 1922. Nearly one hundred years later, the History has been criticized as racist for intentionally ommitting discussion of the work of African American suffragists. Today's scholars look upon the set as a compilation on white middle class woman suffrage, not a comprehensive review of the entire suffrage movement.

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History of Woman Suffrage, Vol.1, 1848–1861

Curio 324.3 S792h v.1            Read the full text online.


“Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (title page)

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History of Woman Suffrage, Vol.2, 1862–1876

Curio 324.3 S792h v.2            Read the full text online.


“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” (title page)

Discussing Suffrage 1848–1876