If you think about it, the motto of the Three Musketeers is just as applicable to the women who lobbied for the right to vote, throughout American history. These women hoped that they were fighting for their own right to vote, but knew that in reality the change might not come in time to affect them…yet they marched, spoke out, wrote editorials, and agitated for change anyway. It truly was a fight for all women– past, present, and future– who deserved the right to have a say in the governance of our nation. Stories from Suffragette City focuses on a single day in the fight to ratify the 19th Amendment: October 23, 1915, the day when approximately 50,000 women (and men) marched through New York City in support of the women’s suffrage movement.
The publication of this book is obviously timely, as we head into one of the most contested and divisive election seasons in recent memory. And although it might be jarring to think about, a woman’s right to cast a ballot is only 100 years old, and was as hot button an issue then, as many of our most debated issues are today. Stories from Suffragette City does an excellent job of painting the historical landscape from the Upper East Side, to Hell’s Kitchen, and everywhere in between. We meet Irish immigrants, Chinese Americans, a woman who fled the Armenian Genocide, African American suffragists (most notably Ida B. Wells-Barnett), and wealthy patrons of the movement like Katrina Ely Tiffany and Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. The anthology is not at all partisan; if it pushes any agenda at all, it is merely to appreciate the hard fought privilege to vote that American women enjoy today. Yet at the same time, it reminds us of the barriers that remained in place even after the passage of the 19th Amendment, for women of color to vote… and indeed, that many in America still face challenges in casting a ballot, despite the efforts of generations of reformers.
It is not enough to have the vote. We must exercise that right with conviction and keep in mind the great power that lies within the right to vote. Simply, we must honor the women who fought for this right by voting in our elections and continuing the fight for equal rights. – Kristin Hannah, Introduction, Stories from Suffragette City
As someone who is passionate about American History, and about the evolution of civil rights in our country, I thought this book was excellent. It presents a solid cross section of the viewpoints regarding women’s suffrage, and of the types of people (ethnically, culturally, and economically) who were part of the movement. Although this is a work of fiction, it raises important questions about the right to vote, and the right to protest in America, and about how those rights are impacted by where a person is from, by what color their skin is, and by what gender they are. It really is a remarkable collection, and I highly recommend it.