Ohio History Journal

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Frances Jennings Casement and the Equal

Rights Association of Painesville, Ohio:

The Fight for Women's Suffrage,







The history of the national struggle for women's suffrage is well chroni-

cled.1 While the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 is generally accepted as

the starting point of the campaign for women's voting rights, women's civil

and political rights advanced slowly. Although several states granted women

the right to vote in municipal and school elections, only the Territory of

Wyoming, in 1869, granted full political equality prior to 1890. Colorado,

Utah, and Idaho enfranchised women in the 1890s, but few other states per-

mitted women's suffrage in state elections before 1910.2

This slow pace of change did not reflect a lack of organization. The suf-

fragists organized grassroots movements in extremely imaginative ways, of-

ten attempting to link their cause with those of other movements.3 At times,

women involved in the abolition and temperance movements also became in-



Sam Tamburro is a historian with the National Park Service and works in the Cuyahoga

Valley National Recreation Area. He wishes to thank the staff at the Lake County Historical

Society for its assistance in locating research materials and Dr. Carol Lasser of Oberlin

College for her thoughtful and observant comments on the article.

1. The campaign for women's suffrage is amply described in Eleanor Flexner, Century of

Struggle: The Women's Rights Movement in the United States (Cambridge, Mass., 1959);

Aileen S. Kraditor, The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890-1920 (New York,

1965); William O'Neill, Everyone was Brave: The Rise and Fall of Feminism in America

(Chicago, 1969) and Feminism in America: A History (New Brunswick, N.J., 1989); Janet

Zollinger Giele, Two Paths to Women's Equality: Temperance, Suffrage, and the Origins of

Modern Feminism (New York, 1995); The Concise History of Woman Suffrage, Mari Jo and

Paul Buhle, eds. (Chicago, 1978); and Ellen Carol DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage: The

Emergence of an Independent Women's Suffrage Movement in America, 1848-1869 (Ithaca,

N.Y., 1978); and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Joslyn Gage, et al.,

History of Woman Suffrage, vols. 1-6 (Rochester, N.Y., 1881-1902).

2. For a detailed description of the progression of the women's suffrage cause after the

Civil War, see Flexner, Century of Struggle and DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage.

3. According to DuBois in Feminism and Suffrage, Stanton and Anthony attempted to estab-

lish women's suffrage as an independent political movement by linking it with the emerging or-

ganized labor movement. The result was the formation of the Working Women's Association

(WWA), a female wing of the National Labor Union (NLU).