This photograph by the Associated Press depicts a woman’s suffrage parade in New York on Saturday, May 4, 1912. Harriot Stanton Blatch, the daughter of feminist pioneer Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had begun popularizing the tactic of urban suffragist parades as way to demonstrate the diversity of the suffrage coalition and to pressure eastern states, such as New York, to join the movement toward woman’s suffrage that had begun earlier in the nineteenth century in territories and states west of the Mississippi River. According to historian Alexander Keyssar, 1910 had marked an important turning point in the struggle because it was “the first time in history” that “woman’s suffrage became a mass movement.” The 1912 New York parade helps illustrate that trend. A new generation of suffragist leaders, like Blatch, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Alice Paul, were making a determined effort to broaden their coalition and professionalize their strategy. They did not prevail, however, at first. New York, for example, rejected a woman’s suffrage measure in 1915. But suffragists only redoubled their efforts, and in 1917, New York adopted voting rights for women, just about three years before the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified in August 1920.
Details to Consider
- Why do you think the photographer was attracted to this particular group of parade participants?
- How might some Americans of that era, male or female, perceive this type of parade down Fifth Avenue on a Saturday afternoon to be dangerously provocative?