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Wheeling Suffragettes, 1916 | by Ohio County Public Library
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Wheeling Suffragettes, 1916

On November 14, 1896, the Women's Suffrage Movement in Wheeling was for the first time formally organized in the home of Dr. Harriet B. Jones as the Political Equality League. Dr. Jones was elected president, Miss Jennie B. Wilson, corresponding secretary, and Mrs. George K. Wheat treasurer. Among the Charter members were Mrs. Ada Barr, Mrs. W. T. Burt, Mrs. Elliott, Mrs. Henry Ott, Miss Sue Rice, and Miss Lizzie Swift.


This photo, taken nearly two decades later, May 2, 1916, shows Wheeling suffragists selling copies of a special suffrage edition of the Intelligencer. The proceeds from the sale went to support the suffrage movement in Ohio County.


"Among the prominent suffragists who 'manned' the automobiles were: Mesdames George A. Laughlin, Robert Hazlett, Gibson Caldwell, W. D. McCoy and E. S. Romine, and Misses Elizabeth Cummins, Mary Clifford, Ruth Mason, Gladys Dexter, Anne Cummins and Florence Hoge. . ."


It would be another four years before the 19th Amendment granting American women the right to vote would be ratified, August 18, 1920. The federal amendment for women’s suffrage passed Congress in 1919. For an Amendment to be ratified, it must pass by a three-fourths vote in all individual State legislatures. Following Governor John Jacob Cornwell's inclusion of the ratification measure on the agenda of a special legislative session in February of 1920, the House of Delegates quickly ratified the amendment, but the Senate deadlocked. In a dramatic effort to end the stalemate, Sen. Jesse Bloch of Wheeling returned from a California vacation in a "cross-country dash" to break the tie, and on March 10, 1920, West Virginia became the 34th state to ratify the 19th Amendment. This provided a crucial victory in the fight to win the 36 states needed to achieve women’s suffrage nationally.


Today, March 8, 2016, on International Women's Day, we recognize the courage and determination of these early leaders in Wheeling's suffrage movement. #IWD2016 #WomensDay


- image from "The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer," May 2, 1916, Ohio County Public Library, Microfilm Collections


Visit the Library's Wheeling History website


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Uploaded on March 8, 2016