Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Women's Suffrage: Important Figures

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony (February 15, 1820- March 13, 1906)

“Suffrage is the pivotal right.” – Susan B. Anthony

Anthony led the women's suffrage movement for more than 50 years before her death in 1906. She was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and worked tirelessly for the passage of laws, both at the state and federal level, which would grant American women their full rights as citizens. In 1872, almost fifty years before women were legally granted the right to vote by the Nineteenth Amendment, Anthony managed to both register to vote in her hometown of Rochester, New York, and cast a ballot on Election Day. However, she was arrested for what authorities called an act of civil disobedience.

"Anthony, Susan B." American Social Reform Movements Reference Library, edited by Carol Brennan, et al., vol. 3: Biographies, UXL, 2007, pp. 11-19. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Alice Stokes Paul

Alice Stokes Paul (January 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977)

“There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.” - Alice Paul

Alice Stokes Paul was one of the foremost women's rights activists of the twentieth century.  She energized the movement for women's suffrage and led the fight for an Equal Rights Amendment. Through aggressive protest strategies she learned while visiting England, she was instrumental in getting the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in 1920. She came close in obtaining ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) over a half century later in the 1970s. Her tireless work and dedication influenced many governmental policies and was a model for feminists worldwide.

"Paul, Alice." Prejudice in the Modern World Reference Library, vol. 3: Biographies, UXL, 2007, pp. 185-193. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Alice Stone Blackwell

Alice Stone Blackwell (September 14, 1857 – March 15, 1950)         

“Justice is better than chivalry if we cannot have both.” Alice Stone Blackwell

Blackwell, the daughter of Lucy Stone, was an important figure in early American feminism, women’s suffrage, and was also a pioneer of what would later be called human rights activism.  Blackwell succeeded her mother as editor of Boston's Woman's Journal, a key publication in the fight for woman suffrage that culminated in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920.

Blackwell, Alice Stone." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 29, Gale, 2009, pp. 61-63. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt (January 9, 1859 – March 9, 1947)

“In the adjustment of the new order of things, we women demand an equal voice; we shall accept nothing less.”  -Carrie Chapman Catt

A key architect of the woman-suffrage victory in 1920, Carrie Chapman Catt was an activist-lecturer. In 1917, she edited her first book, Woman Suffrage by Federal Constitutional Amendment, a series of six essays, four of which she wrote herself. Here she analyzed briefly the political obstacles women faced and focused on the practical reasons why the federal amendment route seemed the only truly feasible one.

BYERS, INZER. "Catt, Carrie (Lane) Chapman." American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present, edited by Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf, 2nd ed., vol. 1, St. James Press, 2000, pp. 179-180. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch

Harriot Eaton Stanton Blatch (January 20, 1856 – November 20, 1940)   

The daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Blatch infused the movement with new life at the start of the twentieth century. The elders of the movement, such as Stanton and Anthony, began to realize that it would be their daughters, and not themselves, who would finally exercise the right to vote.

"The Women's Suffrage Movement." American Social Reform Movements Reference Library, edited by Carol Brennan, et al., vol. 2: Almanac, UXL, 2007, pp. 407-441. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Jeannette Pickering Rankin

Jeannette Pickering Rankin (June 11, 1880 – May 18, 1973)

“We're half the people; we should be half the Congress.” -  Jeannette Rankin

Rankin was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She served two terms, one beginning in 1917 and the other in 1941. A pacifist, she was the only congressperson to vote against both World War I and World War II. She was active in the women's suffrage movement and in peace movements throughout her life.

"Jeannette Pickering Rankin." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 13, Gale, 2004, pp. 35-37. Gale eBooks, Accessed 16 Mar. 2020.

Mary Eliza Church Terrell

Mary Eliza Church Terrell (September 23, 1863 – July 24, 1954)


Terrell became an active member of the National American Suffrage Association and focused her attention on the special concerns of African American women. In “The Progress of Colored Women,” Terrell noted the “almost insurmountable obstacles” that had confronted African American women. Not only were “colored women with ambition and aspiration handicapped on account of their sex, but they are everywhere baffled and mocked on account of their race.”

"Terrell, Mary Eliza Church." Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, edited by Donna Batten, 3rd ed., vol. 10, Gale, 2010, pp. 2-3. Gale eBooks, Accessed 16 Mar. 2020.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797 – November 26, 1883)

“If women want any rights more than they's got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it.” - Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was a former black slave who traveled widely throughout the United States, and advocated the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of women.

"Truth, Sojourner." Gale Contextual Encyclopedia of American Literature, vol. 4, Gale, 2009, pp. 1578-1582. Gale eBooks, Accessed 16 Mar. 2020.

Rachel Foster Avery

          Rachel Foster Avery (December 30, 1858 – October 26, 1919)

Rachel Foster Avery was active in the American women's suffrage movement during the late 19th century, working closely with Susan B. Anthony and other movement leaders

Retrieved from:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1818- October 26, 1902)    

“The right is ours. Have it we must. Use it we will.” - Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Stanton was one of the most prominent women's rights activists of the nineteenth century. Suffrage was the cause most dear to her heart. She dedicated her life to ensuring that women's voices were heard. In 1851, she met another tireless activist, Susan B. Anthony.  Together the women spearheaded the suffrage movement. Although neither would live to see women get the vote, their dedication and courage were the basis for the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, in 1920.

"Stanton, Elizabeth Cady." Gilded Age and Progressive Era Reference Library, edited by Lawrence W. Baker and Rebecca Valentine, vol. 2: Biographies, UXL, 2007, pp. 203-210. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Lucy Stone

 Lucy Stone (August 13, 1818 – October 18, 1893

“The idea of equal rights was in the air.” - Lucy Stone

Lucy Stone was one of the first leaders of the Women’s Rights movement in the United States. A noted lecturer and writer, Stone spent most of her life working for women’s suffrage. She is also believed to be the first married woman in the United States to keep her maiden name.

"Stone, Lucy." Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, edited by Donna Batten, 3rd ed., vol. 9, Gale, 2010, pp. 389-390. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Anna Howard Shaw

Anna Howard Shaw (February 14, 1847 – July 2, 1919)

“If we ever get to the polls once, you will never get us home.” - Anna Howard Shaw

American suffragist leader, reformer, and feminist, was the fourth president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.   Shaw spent most of her life as a champion of women's rights and was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for an unequaled eleven years.

"Anna Howard Shaw." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 14, Gale, 2004, pp. 162-163. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 2, 1860 – August 17, 1935)

“To attain happiness in another world we need only to believe something, while to secure it in this world we must do something.” - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A distinguished social reformer and feminist, Gilman produced several works of nonfiction devoted to her social and economic theories, as well as fictional texts embodying those principles. Her most famous works are The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), depicting a young mother's descent into madness, and the utopian fantasy Herland (1915).

"Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: Introduction." Feminism in Literature: A Gale Critical Companion, edited by Jessica Bomarito and Jeffrey W. Hunter, vol. 5: 20th Century, Authors (A-G), Gale, 2005, pp. 485-487. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard

   Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard (September 28, 1839- February 17, 1898)

“The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.” - Frances E. Willard

Willard was a prominent American temperance crusader and women's suffrage leader. She appreciated the power of the ballot and was a lifelong supporter of suffrage for women. Willard argued that having the right to vote would further enable women to protect their homes and families. In 1888, she testified before a Senate committee, presenting herself as a conservative woman devoted to the idea of the ballot.

"Willard, Frances (1839–1898)." American Eras, vol. 8: Development of the Industrial United States, 1878-1899, Gale, 1997, pp. 323-324. Gale eBooks, Accessed 14 Mar. 2020.

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931)     

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett was a prominent and often controversial African American reformer who spoke out against racial oppression in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century.                                             

Lucrettia Coffin Mott

Lucrettia Coffin Mott (January 3, 1793 – November 11, 1880)     

“There is nothing of greater importance to the well-being of society at large - of man as well as woman - than the true proper position of woman.” -  Lucretia Mott

An American Quaker, Mott was a pioneer feminist leader and radical abolitionist.

"Lucretia Coffin Mott." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 11, Gale, 2004, pp. 212-213. Gale eBooks, Accessed 16 Mar. 2020.

Maud Wood Park

Maud Wood Park (January 25, 1871 – May 8, 1955)

Park became first president of the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization to educate new voters following the passage of woman's suffrage in 1920

"Maud Wood Park." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 12, Gale, 2004, p. 102. Gale eBooks, Accessed 16 Mar. 2020.

Lucy Elmina Anthony

Lucy Elmina Anthony (October 24, 1859 – July 4, 1944)                

Lucy Elmina Anthony was an internationally known leader in the Woman's Suffrage movement. She was the niece of American social reformer and women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony and longtime companion of women's suffrage leader Anna Howard Shaw.