Votes for Women!: American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot by Winifred Conkling. February 13, 2018. Algonquin Young Readers, 312 p. ISBN: 9781616207342. Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 1100.
For nearly 150 years, American women did not have the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, they won that right, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified at last. To achieve that victory, some of the fiercest, most passionate women in history marched, protested, and sometimes even broke the law—for more than eight decades.
From Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who founded the suffrage movement at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, to Sojourner Truth and her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, to Alice Paul, arrested and force-fed in prison, this is the story of the American women’s suffrage movement and the private lives that fueled its leaders’ dedication. Votes for Women! explores suffragists’ often powerful, sometimes difficult relationship with the intersecting temperance and abolition campaigns, and includes an unflinching look at some of the uglier moments in women’s fight for the vote.
By turns illuminating, harrowing, and empowering, Votes for Women! paints a vibrant picture of the women whose tireless battle still inspires political, human rights, and social justice activism.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence, Domestic violence
Booklist (March 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 13))
Grades 7-10. Looking for a comprehensive, well-written history of women’s fight for the right to vote? You’ve found it. Conkling draws readers in with the dramatic story of how the nineteenth amendment’s ratification came down to a Tennessee state congressman who voted yes—because his mother told him to! She then goes on to detail—in great detail—how women’s suffrage evolved; the way the movement fought side by side, and then sometimes against, abolitionists; the prejudice, often topped with scorn and incredulity, that the suffrage movement suffered; and the incredible inventiveness, tenacity, and bravery it took to finally get women the right to vote. This history is filled with women who stepped up, most notably movement architects Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Their enduring friendship (as well as their philosophical difference) is highlighted here. But other fascinating supporting characters, like flamboyant Victoria Woodhull and clear-headed Lucretia Mott, as well as many others, get their due. Illustrated with photographs and historical memorabilia, this is great for research as well as a good read.
Kirkus Reviews starred (November 15, 2017)
Spanning multiple centuries, this work may be the most comprehensive account for young readers about the founders, leaders, organizers, and opponents of the American suffragist movement. Conkling takes readers back to a time when giving birth to a girl elicited sighs of pity. Women did not have the right to own property, could not enter into contracts or sign legal documents, could not keep their wages, had limited options for work, and had few legal rights overall. Over half of this thorough account focuses on the first wave of the suffragist movement, exploring the lives—personal and activist—of key players; coverage of the second wave moves faster, as women protest nonviolently, march, picket in silence, and endure unjust prison sentences. From hunger strikes to cruel and deplorable jail conditions, women endured much to get Congress to consider their vote. History buffs won’t be surprised when reading about the multiple occasions in which suffragists would put their needs before others’, getting tangled in racial and class tensions with abolitionists and African-Americans who were fighting for similar rights. With black-and-white portraits, newspaper clippings, historical renderings, and photographs interspersed, the well-documented narrative is propelled by diary and autobiography accounts, speeches, newspaper articles, and conventions and court records. Almost a century after women’s right to vote was secured, Conkling delivers a tour de force—fairly neutral, at times infuriating, occasionally graphic, and reminiscent of disturbing news today. (selected sources, timeline, bibliography, notes) (Nonfiction. 12-16)
About the Author
Winifred Conkling studied journalism at Northwestern University and spent the next 25 years writing non-fiction for adult readers, including for Consumer Reports magazine and more than 30 books. As part of her transition to writing for young people, she is working toward her Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Her website is www.winifredconkling.com.
Women’s Suffrage Lesson Plans from the Library of Congress
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