WOW Museum: The Struggle for Women's Suffrage


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1849-   California statehood.

1893-   State legislature approves suffrage for women; governor vetoes bill as unconstitutional.

1896-   Statewide referendum defeats suffrage.

1902-   Woman's Socialist Union founded.

1906-   The Yellow Ribbon suffrage newspaper founded.

1910-   Progressive Party submits suffrage issue to voters via referendum.

1911-   Male voters approve full women's suffrage.

Maud Younger in auto

Maud Younger, legislative chairman of the National Woman's Party, seated at steering wheel of her automobile, on her arrival in Washington, D.C., from California, with her dog.
Library of Congress

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Maud Younger was born in the bustling city of San Francisco on January 10, 1870. Wealthy parents sent her to the best private schools, and she took many trips to the East Coat and Europe. By the time she was college-aged, Younger had visited New York City several times, where she met many social reformers who worked in the poor, immigrant slums helping women and children survive. Younger worked for five years at the New York Settlement House, where she became a dedicated suffragist, labor union supporter, and political activist.

Younger became known as the "millionaire waitress" upon her return to San Francisco, where she helped organize that city's first waitresses' union. She helped push through California's first eight-hour-day law for women, and other labor laws. When women from all over the state joined California's suffrage campaign, Younger encouraged working women and union members to join. She spoke at union halls and published pamphlets aimed at male working-class voters, such as "Why Wage-Earning Women Should Vote." Despite her union activism, Younger's wealthy background enabled her to act as an important bridge between different groups of women in the victorious campaign in 1911. She was also flamboyant and attracted lots of press coverage when she drove the Wage Earners Equal Suffrage League's float-- a wagon pulled by six white horses down Market Street in San Francisco's Labor Day Parade in 1911.

Alice Paul, leader of the Congressional Union (forerunner of the Woman's Party), liked Younger's style, and brought her to come to Washington, D. C. to help win passage of the federal suffrage Amendment in 1913. Younger worked with Paul for the next seven years. She drove with her dog in a stylish convertible, attracting attention in the early days of the adventurous "flapper" trend. After passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Younger continued to work for trade unions, as well as the Woman's Party, and National Consumers' League. She died in 1936 in California. Her final cause, passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, has still never been won to this day.