Beyond Domesticity: U.S. Women Writers, 1770-1915


Introduction l True Womanhood l New Women l Growing Up Female l Political Women l Suffrage l Abolition l Women and War l Work Outside the Home l Cookery and Fancy-Work l Work Inside the Home l Mothering l Marriage l Marriage and Divorce l Regionalism l Travel l Bestsellers l Highlights l English 437: Students Research Rare Books




lucy boston
“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.”

The nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1920, after nearly 80 years of struggle for – and against – female suffrage. Writing was a crucial weapon in this battle. Activists wrote novels, poems, songs, essays, plays, biographies, and more, trying to persuade the American public that women, too, held the inalienable right to political voice.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902,
Suelizabeth cady stantonsan B. Anthony, 1820-1906, and
Matisusan b anthonylda Joslyn Gage, 1826-1898.
matilda joslyn gage






The History of Woman Suffrage.
Rochesthe history of woman suffrageter, NY: Charles Mann, 1887.

Stanton, Anthony and Gage labored for a decade to produce this massive work, anthologizing speeches, biographies, and recollections by key figures from the women’s rights movement about the early years of organizing. After Stanton’s death, the History would be doubled in length by additional volumes compiled by her protégé, Ida Harper. This particular volume was a gift: the inscription reads: “To the Political Study League of Columbia, SC from Susan B. Anthony. Rochester, NY. Jan 10/95.”





“The great subject of Wimmin’s Rites”

Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811-1896.

My Wife and I: or, Harry Henderson’s History.
New York: J.B. Ford and Company, 1871.
my wife and i or harry henderson's historyAnd:

Fred Folio [anonymous]

Lucy Boston; or, Woman’s Rights and Spiritualism, illustrating the Follies and Delusions of the Nineteenth Century.
suffrage meetingAuburn and Rochester: Alden and Beardsley, 1855.

Women’s rights advocates made easy targets for satire, as in this slapstick rendition of a suffrage meeting by the pseudonymous “Fred Folio.” Stowe never committed herself to either suffragism or antisuffragism – though both sides lobbied for her support. But she often expressed a concern that women would sacrifice their moral superiority by involving themselves too directly in political life.

Women’s Social and Political Union Cup, ca. 1903-1915.
English porcelain, Williamsons (manufacturer).
Gift of Dr. Ann Kelly.
women suffrage teacup
The transfer seal on this commemorative teacup shows the Women’s Social and Political Union seal with an angel blowing a horn and waving a flag with the word “freedom.” The WSPU was founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia to recruit more working-class women into the struggle for the vote. The group engaged in demonstrations, which sometimes turned violent, and active protest. After the declaration of war in August 1914, the WSPU entered into negotiations with the British government and agreed to end their militant activities and to support the war effort.

“Votes for Women Souvenir Program.”

London: Mrs. S. Burgess, 1910.
Gift of Dr. Ann Kelly.
votes for women souvenir program
This thin crepe paper commemorative program, printed in 3 colors at a woman-owned print shop in London and a rare surviving copy, lists the order of a grand suffrage parade from Whitehall in central London to the Royal Albert Hall on June 18, 1910, where the assembled crowd heard addresses from Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst, Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, and Lord Lytton. The parade, which was composed of 10,000 women and their supporters, was in support of the Women’s Suffrage Bill, which had just been introduced into the House of the Commons the previous week.

Maria Jane McIntosh, 1803-1878.

Woman in America: Her Work and Her Reward.
New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1850.
woman in america
McIntosh was a true domestic fiction writer; this is her only nonfiction book which was written to combat the suffrage movement of the time and preach the Christian model of what a true American woman was in the 1800s. Though she believed in women having power she warned against going too far in exercising it. This arose from her own experience struggling to live without a man. In this passage from chapter six titled, “Social Evils-Woman their Reformer”, McIntosh paints two distinct sides of the suffrage movement. Flirtilla, the woman who married for money and lives for pleasure (often away from her husband), is presented as the reformer while Egeria (which is also the name of a famous nun) is the perfect Christian Republican Mother figure: always gracious, kind, pleasant to others, and fiercely protectective of her children. Flirtilla’s fate is what McIntosh saw as the rightful end for all reformers and gives insight into the anti-suffrage movement which isn’t given much study in today’s time.

Label: Michelle Metzler.

Annie G. Porritt and Frances M. Bjorkman, eds.

Woman Suffrage: History, Arguments, Results.
New York: National Woman Suffrage Publ. Co., Inc., 1917.
woman suffrage
"Women are too emotional to vote.”
“Women will turn into men if granted suffrage.”

These statements are just a few of the ludicrous arguments that were used to keep women away from the ballots in the early 20th century. This book dismantles such fallacies, along with any other possible argument against woman suffrage. It includes a brief but thorough, history of the suffrage movement, several letters and essays written by prominent suffragists, and a complete study of suffrage states and their successes before the federal amendment in 1920. In short, this is the suffrage “bible,” and was meant to convert all, from the simply uninformed to avid anti-suffragists.

Label: Anna Rogers.


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