Love My Vote

Marking a century of women's voting rights

A headshot of Case Western Reserve student Helen Stevens, who graduated in 1919 Helen Stevens

To mark the 100th anniversary of passage (1919) and ratification (1920) of the 19th amendment, which prohibits the denial of voting rights based on sex, Think is looking back at the suffrage campaign on campus with an indispensable assist from Case Western Reserve University Archives.

A valentine showing a child and the words 'Love Me Love My Vote'

Students pressed for national suffrage for at least a decade before ratification, and some formed a College Equal Suffrage League chapter in 1911 at the College for Women of Western Reserve University, according to articles in the student newspaper, The Reserve Weekly.

Six years later, even as Ohio defeated a referendum to give women the right to vote for presidential electors, the measure won in a mock vote at the college, 308-13.

This school year, Einav Rabinovitch-Fox, PhD, a visiting assistant professor of history, is offering an undergraduate course in which students will curate a campus exhibition on the suffrage struggle and its local legacies. They'll also create a website with information and resources. The project is supported by the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at the university's Kelvin Smith Library. It provides a way "to think about the history of the struggle and how the fight for equal rights is not finished," said Rabinovitch-Fox.

A valentine (above right) from the college scrapbook of Helen H. Stevens (FSM 1919; LYS '30, '55; GRS '38, English) who served as president of the campus Equal Suffrage League at the College of Women in 1917-1918. Stevens, shown above left in a yearbook photo, later married Lauren Robert Moffett (ADL 1919) and was a Western Reserve University librarian for 45 years. Below: Election notice and results from a campus mock vote on a state bill that would have provided Ohio women voting rights for presidential electors.

An election notice indicating where to vote for presidential suffrage in Ohio
The results from a mock campus vote, with a large majority of respondents voting in favor of women's suffrage