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Suffragette Parade - 1913 USA
Suffragette Parade, 1913

It is hard to imagine that not that long ago, women did not have the right to vote in the United States. Although giving women the right to vote had been proposed by many philosophers and reformers as far back as the 18th century, the concept did not gain momentum until various feminists and women’s organizations began pushing for equal rights.

Starting in the late 1890s, several women’s leagues were organized to try to change the law and gain voting rights for women. Their members, nicknamed suffragettes, agitated and protested to change the discriminatory laws which restricted voting rights to men. One of the methods employed by the suffragettes was to hold parades in major cities in order to bring attention to their cause.

This is a photo of a typical suffragette parade in 1913. Here a group of young women dressed in white march past a procession stand set up by the N.A.W.S.A., one of the leading suffragette organizations of the day. The mood is festive and gay. Some of the women are holding helium balloons; many are smiling and skipping along.

The National American Woman Suffrage Association was formed in 1890 through the merger of two rival suffragette organizations. Although progress was initially slow, N.A.W.S.A. would play a leading role in securing passage of the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution which enshrined voting rights for women. Having achieved its main objective, N.A.W.S.A., transitioned into the League of Women Voters, which remains active to this day.

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