A Look Inside the American, British, and Russian Women’s Suffrage Movements

A Woman's Suffrage Parade in Long Island, 1913. Time

Women’s suffrage in the United States, the legal right for women to vote, was established over the course of several decades, first by states’ rights, and then federally in 1920.

In 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention, the first women’s rights convention, passed a resolution in favor of universal suffrage.

In 1872, Susan B. Anthony illegally voted and her arrest revitalized the Suffrage movement. In 1890, with Susan B. Anthony at the head of the organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Association was formed (NAWSA).

Carrie Chapman Catt the lead NAWSA final push, with two million members, to make universal suffrage a reality. The Nineteenth Amendment became a part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920. It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Hedwig Reicher as Colombia at the March 3, 1913, Suffrage Parade in Washington, D.C. Time
Inez Milholland Boissevain, wearing a white cape, seated on a white horse, at the National American Woman Suffrage Association parade. Time
Margaret Vale Howe, a participant in the suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. March 1930. Time
Mrs. Charles Lewis Tiffany, Katrina Brandes Ely, carrying a flag in suffrage parade, New York City, October 27, 1917. Time
Mrs. Suffern wearing a sash and carrying a sign that says Help us to win the vote, surrounded by a crowd of men and boys at a Women’s Suffrage Parade in 1914. Time
National American Woman Suffrage Association parade held in Washington, D.C., March 3, 1913, photograph showing (left to right) Mrs. Russell McLennan, Mrs. Althea Taft, Mrs. Lew Bridges, Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, Alberta Hill and Miss F. Ragsdale. Time
Suffrage hikers who took part in the suffrage hike from New York City to Washington, D.C. which joined the March 3, 1913, National American Woman SUffrage Association parade. Time
Suffragist Susan Walker Fitzgerald, Emma Bugbee, Maggie Murphy and Harriot Stanton Blatch at a women’s suffrage parade in New York City, July 30, 1913. Time
Women’s Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917. Time
Women’s Suffrage picket parade in Washington, D.C., 1917. Time
This 1915 pin showed support for the movement for a woman’s right to vote. Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection
The Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association promotes a 1915 referendum which would have allowed women the right to vote. The referendum did not pass, and women waited another four years before the 19th Amendment guaranteed their right to vote. Ann Lewis Women’s Suffrage Collection

Women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom succeeded through two laws passed in 1918 and 1928.

The movement started in the Victorian era. In 1872, the National Society for Women’s Suffrage was formed which later turned into the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

In 1913, Parliament passed the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) Act, commonly referred to as the Cat and Mouse Act. This allowed for the release of those whose hunger strikes, while imprisoned for the sometimes violent tactics of the Women’s Social and Political Union, until they were fed and healthy so the striking women would not become martyrs.

The outbreak of World War I resulted in a pause of all political movement. In 1918, a coalition in Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act, granting all men, as well as women over the age of 30 who met the minimum property qualifications the right to vote. In 1928, the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act was passed, which gave women over the age of 21 the right to vote on equal terms with men.

The Women’s Social and Political union stand, probably at Caxton Hall, London, during the women’s parliament, February 1908. Christina Broom: Museum of London
Suffragettes taking part in a pageant organized by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, June 1908. Christina Broom: Museum of London
Nurses and midwives marching to the Royal Albert Hall, London, April 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
Suffragettes in a procession to promote the Women’s Exhibition, in London, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
Younger suffragettes promoting the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A procession of people promoting the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
Barbara Ayrton-Gould dressed as a fisher girl representing Grace Darling, promoting the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
Christabel Pankhurst, co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Union, inside the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst (front row, third from left), at the flower stall of the Women’s exhibition, London, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A suffragette in costume at the Green, White and Gold fair, organized by the Women’s Freedom League, 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) drum and fife band at the Women’s exhibition, May 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
A suffragette meeting, with WSPU leaders including Emmeline Pankhurst, at Caxton Hall, June 1909. Christina Broom: Museum of London
The Putney and Fulham WSPU shop and office, London, 1910. Christina Broom: Museum of London