In the early 1900s, suffragists staged public protests like parades and pickets. Newspapers across the country printed photographs of their events, which kept their cause in the news and on the minds of voters
In the early 20th century, suffragists designed protests to attract attention from the public, photographers, and journalists. News photographs spread evidence of their dedication to the cause. These images captured white women wearing white dresses and marching with elaborate floats. They also featured women carrying banners in the first-ever pickets of the White House. Some women of color, like Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, did participate in marches, but many were excluded or marginalized and so prioritized other strategies.
In these years, the halftone printing process allowed photographs to appear alongside text. For the first time, newspapers featured photographs rather than engraved illustrations. Suffragists like Alice Paul of the National Woman’s Party organized spectacular protests. She and many others had participated in British suffrage protests, and they brought militant British strategies to America. Paul wanted to ensure that the new ranks of photojournalists captured the cause.
By the 1910s, many popular publications endorsed women’s suffrage. Newspapers printed publicity materials generated by the press committees of suffrage organizations. Journalists also designed their own materials. Americans were buying new ideas about women and politics. The postcard above was created from a documentary photograph of a suffrage parade which was then distributed.
Before 19th Amendment’s passage, suffragists fought for the vote in each state. This rare crepe paper banner came from the 1915 campaign in New York, the Empire State. Suffragists might have used the banner to decorate shop windows or even hang it on wire across streets.